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(National) Education Politics


From the White House Press Office: “President Donald J. Trump Proclaims October 15 through October 21, 2017, as National Character Counts Week.” The irony.

“The U.S. Senate’s education committee on a party-line vote Wednesday advanced the nomination of Carlos Muñiz for general counsel at the Department of Education,” Inside Higher Ed reports.

Via Inside Higher Ed: “The Federal Trade Commission on Thursday announced a proposed settlement with a website whose ‘military-friendly’ rankings of colleges and universities allegedly promoted institutions that paid to be included.” The website: Victory Media.

Also via Inside Higher Ed: “The Federal Trade Commission and a group of states last week announced a coordinated law-enforcement action against deceptive student loan debt-relief scams. The crackdown so far has featured new cases and a judgment against scammers who allegedly used deception and false promises to reel in more than $95 million in illegal fees in recent years.”

Via the BBC: “Tuition fee rise to £9,295 in Wales is scrapped.”

Via The Hechinger Report: “India tries coding camps, craft centers and all-girls schools to fight illiteracy.”

Via The New York Times: “To Inspire Young Communists, China Turns to ‘Red Army’ Schools.”

(State and Local) Education Politics


Via WBEZ: “CPS Secretly Overhauled Special Education At Students’ Expense.” CPS, for those not up on their edu acronyms, is the Chicago Public Schools.

Via The Los Angeles Times: “New law puts California on path to offering first year free at community colleges.”

Via Chalkbeat: “Eva Moskowitz looks back at her turn away from district schools, as she plans for 100 schools of her own.” Moskowitz is the founder of the Success Academy charter school chain.

Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “Bill Would Bar U. of Wisconsin Employees From Working at Planned Parenthood.”

Calling him an “unexpected ally” of Betsy DeVos, The Atlantic reports that “Jerry Brown, California’s Democratic governor, has vetoed a bill that would’ve codified into law Obama-era guidance on Title IX.”

Via The LA Times: “ What Ref Rodriguez’s latest legal problems mean for the charter school movement.” The story notes that the LAUSD school board member does have support from Netflix’s Reed Hastings who has contributed $75,000 to his legal defense fund.

New York City libraries have announced they plan to forgive the late fees of all children aged 17 and under in a one-time amnesty event,” The AP reports.

Via CBS Minnesota: “Philando Fundraising Campaign Clears All St. Paul School Lunch Debt.”

Via Edsurge: “The Makings (and Misgivings) of a Statewide Effort to Personalize Learning in Massachusetts.”

Via The Atlantic: “The Decline of the Midwest’s Public Universities Threatens to Wreck Its Most Vibrant Economies.”

Bryan Alexander posits “One path forward for public higher education: ending in-state tuition discounts.”

Immigration and Education


Via Inside Higher Ed: “A federal judge in Hawaii issued a temporary restraining order Tuesday blocking the implementation of a new iteration of the Trump administration’s travel ban. The ban, which was scheduled to fully go into effect today, would block all would-be travelers from North Korea and Syria, in addition to prohibiting all immigrant travel and imposing various restrictions on certain types of nonimmigrant travel for nationals of Chad, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Venezuela and Yemen.”

Education in the Courts


Via Inside Higher Ed: “Attorneys general in 18 states have sued the U.S. Department of Education over the Trump administration’s move to pause enforcement of the so-called gainful-employment rule, which applies to vocational programs at nonprofit colleges and to all programs at for-profit institutions.” More via Buzzfeed.

Via CNET: “Verizon to pay $17M to resolve FCC, Justice E-Rate probes.”

“Free College”


There’s more about free college plans in the state politics section above.

The Business of Student Loans


Via Reuters: “SoFi withdraws U.S. banking application, citing leadership change.” “Leadership change” is really a nice way of putting a series of sexual harassment scandals. Anyway, looks like we’re back to referring to SoFi as a “student loan provider” and not some other new-fangled fin-tech darling. (SoFi is the ed-tech company that has raised the most venture capital. Pay attention.)

More research on student loans in the research section below. And more on crackdowns on those who try to scam students into repayment plans in the politics section above. And more on who’s buying student loan companies in the “business of ed-tech” section below.

The “New” For-Profit Higher Ed


Via Edsurge: “Woz U? Apple Co-Founder Steve Wozniak Launches Online School to Teach Software Development.” I suppose I could put this in “the business of job training” section, but as Woz U has partnered with the for-profit Southern Careers Institute, it probably should remain here in this section despite the glowing press it received from tech publications about how this venture is going to unlock tech careers. The school is listed in this 2015 story by Inside Higher Ed on for-profits “where more than half of federal student loan borrowers had not made a single dollar of progress in paying down their loans seven years after they became due.” Good job, Woz. And good job, tech journalists, on checking into the background of this for-profit and not just rewriting the press release. Oh wait… LOL.

Via The NY Daily News: “Flatiron coding school to pay $375G for operating without a license, making false claims about its graduates.” More from Ars Technica and MarketWatch.

“Who’s Holding Coding Bootcamp Accountability Accountable?” asks Edsurge. (I believe the answer is “New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman.”)

Via The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: “EDMC completes sale of schools to Dream Center.”

More on legal actions surrounding for-profits in the courts section above.

Online Education and the Once and Future “MOOC”


Via The GW Hatchet: “Oversight of online learning programs lacking in some schools, report finds.” The report was undertaken by the George Washington University Faculty Senate.

Via the edX blog: “edX le da la bienvenida a la Universidad Nacional de Córdoba.”

There’s more edX news in the HR section below.

Meanwhile on Campus…


Via NPR: “White Nationalist Richard Spencer Met By Protesters At University Of Florida.” More on the event via Inside Higher Ed.

Penn grad student says she’s under fire on campus and off for using a teaching technique that involves specifically calling on students from underrepresented groups,” Inside Higher Ed reports. More via The Chronicle of Higher Education.

Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “Pro-Trump Protesters Shout Down Democrat’s Speech at Whittier College.”

Via The New York Times: “‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ Removed From School in Mississippi.”

Via The Washington Post: “ N.J. students walk out of high school to protest teacher’s ‘speak American’ comments.”

“The Lure of the Lazy River” – The Chronicle of Higher Education’s Jack Stripling on LSU’s new recreation center.

Via The Clarion-Ledger: “A predominately black public school in Mississippi named after Confederate President Jefferson Davis will be stripped of that moniker next year and replaced with that of another president whose character students, parents and teachers have said is more fitting – Barack Obama.”

Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “When Colleges Use Their Own Students to Catch Drug Dealers.”

Accreditation and Certification


“A Kayak for Credentials” – Inside Higher Ed on Credential Engine’s plans for a big database on post-secondary credentials.

WGU Is Not Off the Hook,” says Mindwires Consulting’s Michael Feldstein, referring to the recent Department of Education report on the school’s status as a correspondence school (rather than a distance education provider).

Via Inside Higher Ed: “The Massachusetts Institute of Technology is offering some students the option to be awarded tamper-free digital degree certificates when they graduate, in partnership with Learning Machine. Selected students can now choose to download a digital version of their degree certificate to their smartphones when they graduate, in addition to receiving a paper diploma.” Because I can’t tell you how many times I have needed to prove I have a college degree but I didn’t have a digital copy of my diploma on my iPhone. So glad someone has solved this problem.

Testing, Testing…


More testing problems in Tennessee. Via The Tennessean: “Thousands of TNReady tests scored incorrectly.”

Go, School Sports Team!


Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “In UNC Case, No Watchdog for Major Academic Fraud.” Also via The Chronicle: “Where the Buck Stopped in the UNC Fraud Scandal (Hint: Not at the Top).”

From the HR Department


EdX has a new COO and president: Adam Medros, formerly of TripAdvisor.

More MOOC job changes: Techcrunch reports that “Coursera’s chief product officer just left to become a VC.” That’s Tom Willerer, who will join Venrock.

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Launches New Leadership Team,” according to EdWeek’s Market Brief.

Changes too at another textbook company as David Levin, the CEO of McGraw Hill Education announced he’s stepping down.

Leonard Medlock, formerly the head of Edsurge’s Concierge product, has moved onto another startup. It’s one of a number of departures from Edsurge recently: Mary Jo Madda is now at Google. And Allison Dulin Salisbury has become president of Entangled Studios.

Grad students at the University of Chicago have voted to unionize.

The Business of Job Training


Once upon a time, Coursera updates went in the MOOC section. Most MOOC news these days more accurately fits here under “job training.” From the Coursera blog: “New on Coursera: start-to-finish learning paths for starting a new career.”

Via Education Week: “CSforAll Announces Computer Science Pledges from Over 170 Organizations.”

This Week in Betteridge’s Law of Headlines


Is blockchain the answer to higher ed’s cybersecurity problems?asks eCampus News.

“​Ohio State Will Give Incoming Students iPads. But Do Tablet Programs Work?asks Edsurge.

Is the Five-Paragraph Essay Dead?asks Edsurge.

Should College Professors Give ‘Tech Breaks’ In Class?asks NPR.

(Reminder: according to Betteridge’s Law of Headlines, “Any headline that ends in a question mark can be answered by the word no.”)

Upgrades and Downgrades


Two different opinions on WIkipedia: “How Social Media Endangers Knowledge” by Hossein Derakhshan in Wired. And “Once Reviled in Education, Wikipedia Now Embraced By Many Professors” by Jeffrey Young in Edsurge.

Internet Archive Hopes to Help Libraries Make Available Books Once Thought Trapped By Copyright,” writes Jen Howard.

Sprint Rolls Out Effort to Boost Student Connectivity, Tech Access,” says EdWeek’s Market Brief.

Edsurge has two stories on the Network for Public Education’s conference: “Public Educators Share Fallout on Personalized Learning, Privatization and Edtech” by Sydney Johnson and “Why Our Obsession With Edtech and Workforce Prep Concerns Parents and Public Educators” by Tina Nazerian.

Robots and Other Ed-Tech SF


Via MIT Technology Review: “Andrew Ng Has a Chatbot That Can Help with Depression.” After fixing education, I guess these folks are on to now automating mental health care. Whee.

“Teachers Are Finding Innovative Ways to Use Robots in Class,” claims Education Week.

AI-driven tool produces high quality online learning for global company in days not months,” claims Donald Clark.

George Veletsianos asks us to “Imagine a future in which technologies teach humans.”

(Venture) Philanthropy and the Business of Ed Reform


“Our Education Efforts Are Evolving,” says Bill Gates. He told the Council of the Great City Schools that the Gates Foundation would spend some $1.7 billion in U.S. public education in the next five years. Some of the details of this spending:

First, although we will no longer invest directly in new initiatives based on teacher evaluations and ratings, we will continue to gather data on the impact of these systems and encourage the use of these systems to improve instruction at the local level.


Second, we will focus on locally-driven solutions identified by networks of schools, and support their efforts to use data-driven continuous learning and evidence-based interventions to improve student achievement.


Third, we are increasing our commitment to develop curricula and professional development aligned to state standards.


Fourth, we will continue to support the development of high-quality charter schools.

Coverage of Gates’ announcements via Chalkbeat and WaPo’s Valerie Strauss. (It’s noteworthy, I think, that “personalized learning” is not mentioned in Gates’ remarks.)

Venture Capital and the Business of Ed-Tech


The venture capital firm Owl Ventures has raised a $185 million fund to invest in ed-tech. No details on who its investors are. Here’s what we know about what Owl Ventures’ network (including investments and people involved) looks like.

Coding bootcamp Galvanize has raised $7 million in Series C funding from University Ventures and ABS Capital Partners. The company, which laid off 11% of its workforce this summer, has raised over $102.4 million total.

BridgeU has raised $5.3 million in Series A funding from Octopus Ventures, Downing Ventures, and Fresco Capital. The career guidance company has raised $8.2 million total.

Fluent City has raised $3 million “to revolutionize language learning,” says Techcrunch. Participating in the funding round: New Ground Ventures, WorldQuant Ventures, ZG Ventures, John Katzman, Nick Hammerschlag, Matthew Hanson, and Lerner Investments. The company has raised $8 million total.

Student loan servicing Nelnet has acquired Great Lakes Educational Loan Services for $150 million.

It’s not ed-tech, but I’ll make note of it anyway. Facebook has acquired tbh, a 2-month-old app that’s purportedly popular with teens. Facebook paid “under $100 million” for it, says Business Insider. (Wonder how Facebook knew that the app was so popular? It tracks the usage of rivals’ apps through its VPN project.)

Privacy, Surveillance, and Information Security


Via the BBC: “Child safety smartwatches ‘easy’ to hack, watchdog says.”

Via The Kansas City Star: “Easy-to-get hacking device puts KU professors’ information in student’s hands.”

Via Inside Higher Ed: “The Institute for Higher Education Policy on Wednesday issued a set of recommendations on the nuts and bolts of creating a federal postsecondary student-level data system.” Does the Gates Foundation have another $100 million to invest in education data infrastructure?

Via The Hechinger Report: “Who is keeping student data safe in the era of digital learning?” Trick question.

Research, “Research,” and Reports


Via Chalkbeat: “The $100 million question: Did Newark’s school reforms work? New study finds big declines, then progress.” That $100 million is, of course, the money Mark Zuckerberg gave to help distract folks from an unflattering biopic.

Via WCET: “New Survey Tracks Online and Distance Education in Canada.”

Young Children Are Spending Much More Time In Front Of Small Screens,” says NPR’s Anya Kamenetz (who’s also written a book on the topic).

According to this press release, Technavio says that the global competency-based education spending market will grow by 18% between 2017 and 2021. This fortune-teller will charge you about $1000 to read its “market research.”

Professors’ Productivity Declines With Age, Right? Maybe Not,” says The Chronicle of Higher Education on a study out of UC Boulder.

The latest Pew Research Center report asks “experts” about “The Future of Truth and Misinformation Online.”

Via Inside Higher Ed: "Half of all black students who took out federal student loans defaulted in 12 years, according to two analyses of new federal data on student borrowers. More via Buzzfeed.

Parent Notifications Have Become the Norm in K–12 Market,” EdWeek’s Market Brief claims.

The New York Times on psychology’s “replicability crisis: “When the Revolution Came for Amy Cuddy.”

Icon credits: The Noun Project

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Audrey Watters


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