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(National) Education Politics


“The Education of Betsy DeVos” – a profile of the Secretary of Education in Politico Magazine.

Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “DeVos Falsely Suggests That Student Loans Were Federalized to Pay for Obamacare.”

An op-ed in The New York Times by Gail Collins: “No Profit in Betsy DeVos.”

Via Buzzfeed: “Betsy DeVos May Only Partially Forgive Loans Of Students Ripped Off By Fraudulent Colleges.”

Via The New York Times: “Betsy DeVos’s Schedule Shows Focus on Religious and Nontraditional Schools.”

Via The LA Times: “Betsy DeVos’ Halloween costume is not going over well.” She was Ms. Frizzle, the teacher in “The Magic School Bus.”

Via Education Week: “Trump Moves to Fill Key Civil Rights Post.” That’s Kenneth Marcus, the Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law, who if confirmed would become the assistant secretary for civil rights at the U.S. Department of Education. (Politico runs the number on the steps Trump has taken to fill openings at the Department of Education.)

Via The Washington Post: “DeVos offers buyouts to shrink Education Department workforce.”

Via The Detroit News: “Husband’s donations cloud Betsy DeVos’ pledge.” That is, Betsy DeVos said during her confirmation hearings that she and her husband would suspend their political contributions while she worked for Trump. Of course, Dick DeVos also works for Trump in a way – or at least, he’s now on an FAA civilian panel. Swampy.

The Department of Education rescinds more regulations and subregulatory guidance.

Via The Intercept: “Steve Bannon Tried to Recruit Teachers Union to Trump’s Agenda While in the White House.” I mean, one in five AFT members did vote for Trump after all.

The Republicans in Congress unveiled their tax plan this week, with big cuts in corporate taxes. Education-related changes include the end to the student loan interest deduction and the imposition of a 1.4% tax on some college endowments at private universities. Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “Republican Tax Proposal Gets Failing Grade From Higher-Ed Groups.”

From ACE, one the largest higher ed lobbying organizations: “Statement by ACE President Ted Mitchell on the House Tax Reform Proposal.” tl;dr: He doesn’t like it. (Mitchell was the Under Secretary of Education under Obama and the head of NewSchools Venture Fund before taking on this role at ACE.)

The Department of Education announced some $95 million in grants for “education innovation and research.” It’s always interesting to see which stories like this get picked up by the tech press. Via Techcrunch: “Palo Alto nonprofit Benetech wins a $42.5M Dept. of Education grant, a nod to founder Jim Fruchterman’s quest to help the blind.”

Via The New York Times: “Navy Orders New Training After Deadly Ship Collisions.” Apparently watching CD-ROMs isn’t sufficient training for driving Navy destroyers. Who’d have guessed?!

Lots of details this week as tech executives testified in front of Congress about Russian interference in the 2016 election. Meanwhile, as The New York Times reports: “Facebook, Under Fire in Russia Inquiry, Posts 79% Rise in Profit.”

“Shadowy ‘Professor’ Is at the Center of the Latest Revelation in the Trump-Russia Probe,” says The Chronicle of Higher Education with the higher ed angle on this week’s indictments.

Via Alternet: “Gavin Grimm Wants To Fix The Education System That Failed Him.”

“Who’s Afraid of Title IX?” asks Anne McClintock in The Jacobin.

(State and Local) Education Politics


Via The 74: “Amid Hurricane’s Devastation, Puerto Rico’s Education Secretary Sees an Opportunity for Reform.” When you hear someone invoke New Orleans and Hurricane Katrina as a model, do remember what happened to all the Black teachers

Via the AP: “Philadelphia moves to retake control of city school system.”

Via The Oregonian: “Attorney who served as top Portland Public Schools lawyer during troubled year out.” That’s Stephanie Harper, who as the story notes, who “made high-profile legal calls that came under fire. They included a failed bid to keep secret investigation records about gym teacher Mitch Whitehurst, who was the subject of many sexual misconduct complaints; the choice to sue a parent and a journalist who filed another open records request; and the district lost a $1 million jury verdict on her watch.”

Immigration and Education


Via Pacific Standard: “Trump Calls for End of Immigration Lottery Program After Terror Attack.”

Education in the Courts


Via The New York Times: “Hartford Student Charged After Boasting About Contaminating Roommate’s Belongings.” White student. Black roommate. Racism kills.

Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “3 Dartmouth Professors Are Target of State Attorney General’s ‘Sexual Misconduct’ Investigation.”

Juvenile Justice (Or Lack Thereof)


Via Teen Vogue: “Youth Incarceration in the United States, Explained.”

Via ProPublica: “Concern Grows Over Youths at Juvenile Correctional Facility Being Sent to Adult Prison.”

“Free College”


Free Community College Picks Up Steam,” says Inside Higher Ed.

The Business of Student Loans


Via the CFPB press office: “CFPB Report Finds Consumer Complaints Spurred Actions That Brought More Than $750 Million in Relief for Student Loan Borrowers.”

Via The New York Times: “A Student Loan Nightmare: The Teacher in the Wrong Payment Plan.”

There’s lots more student loan news in the politics section above.

The “New” For-Profit Higher Ed


Strayer and Capella, two for-profit colleges, will merge in a $2 billion deal. More via The Chronicle of Higher Education, Mindwires Consulting’s Michael Feldstein, and The Wall Street Journal.

Via Inside Higher Ed: “DeVry Parent Company Makes Pledges to Students.”

Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “John Grisham’s Latest Villain? For-Profit Colleges.”

Online Education and the Once and Future “MOOC”


Chalkbeat investigates the Indiana Virtual School: “As students signed up, online school hired barely any teachers – but founder’s company charged it millions.”

Online Schooling: Who Is Harmed and Who Is Helped?” asks Susan Dynarksi in Education Next.

“Clarity into the successful transition of UF Onlinefrom Mindwires Consulting’s Phil Hill.

Meanwhile on Campus…


Inside Higher Ed profiles Liberty University’s Jerry Falwell Jr.

Liberty U. President Says Trump Could Be ‘Greatest President Since Abraham Lincoln’,” says The Chronicle of Higher Education’s Adam Harris. What sort of history does Liberty teach!? (Don’t answer that.)

Via Buzzfeed: “Here’s How A Picture Of Protesters Became A Misleading Far-Right Story.” The picture is from a speech at Columbia University by conspiracy theorist and Trump promoter Mike Cernovich.

Via Inside Higher Ed: “Columbia University on Tuesday dropped its disciplinary investigation into 16 students who disrupted a campus speaker last month.”

The Chronicle of Higher Education’s Steve Kolowich examines the student protests at Evergreen College.

Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “7 Are Arrested Outside Milo Yiannopoulos Speech at Cal State-Fullerton.”

Via In These Times: “The Breitbart-Fueled War on Leftist Academics.”

Speaking of Breitbart, “The Mercers Wash Their Hands of Milo,” says The Atlantic. Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “Billionaire Says Supporting Milo Yiannopoulos’s Campus Tours Was a Mistake.” Via NPR: “Billionaire Investor Robert Mercer To Step Down From Firm, Selling Stake In Breitbart.” (Selling it to his daughters, that is.)

Via Inside Higher Ed: “University of Oregon officials offer to pardon students who drowned out the president’s speech last month if they meet with administrators.”

“Colleges Should Protect Speech – or Lose Fundsby Frederick Hess and Grant Addison in The Wall Street Journal. Whose speech?

Via The East Bay Times: “Amid backlash, National Park Service yanks $98,000 grant for Black Panther Party legacy project.” The grant was to UC Berkeley professor Ula Taylor. Free speech, or something.

Do keep an eye on how education reformers talk about (speech, academic freedom, and) the curriculum now that it, apparently, is the new key to fixing things. e.g. “Social justice miseducation in our schools” by J. Martin Rochester in The Fordham Institute’s Flypaper.

Speaking of controlling the curriculum, via WDIO: “The University of Wisconsin-Superior is suspending nine academic majors, 15 minors, and one graduate program in what university leaders call an effort to ”remain responsive to regional needs." The majors include sociology, media studies, and political science.

Via NPR: “Italy Takes Aim At Fake News With New Curriculum For High School Students.”

The Columbian and NPR both cover the work that Mike Caulfield is doing on digital polarization and fact-checking online with students at Washington State University - Vancouver (and beyond).

Via Chalkbeat: “‘Act of terror’ unfolds steps from New York City high school, injuring two students.”

Via The New York Times: “Opioids on the Quad.”

Via The West Australian: “Navitas to close several colleges.” This includes its affiliation with Western Kentucky University. The Australian company provides courses for schools that decide to outsource their educational services.

Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “After Opposition, U. of Tennessee Campuses Opt Not to Privatize Facilities Services.”

Via the South Bend Tribune: “Notre Dame to end no-cost contraceptive coverage for employees.”

Via Education Week: “Schools Take a Page From Silicon Valley.” That is, some schools are having “scrum meetings,” or something.

Via WKBN: “Youngstown charter school shuts down after running out of funds.” That’s the Mahoning Valley Opportunity Center.

Details about the closure of AltSchool campuses in the “upgrades and downgrades” section below.

Accreditations, Certifications, and Competencies


“In the Era of Microcredentials, Institutions Look to Blockchain to Verify Learning,” says Edsurge. But let’s note this via Vice please, before we get too excited about moving education certification to the blockchain: “One Bitcoin Transaction Now Uses as Much Energy as Your House in a Week.” And elsewhere in blockchain land, “Alex Tapscott’s Crypto VC Firm Going Public With $100M CAD Falsely Touted 4 Blockchain Stars As Advisors,” says Forbes. (Perhaps you’ve heard of his father, Don?) But oh yes. Tell me more about how the blockchain is going to “verify learning.” LOL.

Via Getting Smart: “Digital Promise and Facebook Developing New Micro-Credentials Program.” Because the way to teach people about Facebook according to Facebook is always more Facebook.

Via Inside Higher Ed: “Green Light for Competency-Based Teacher Ed.”

Testing, Testing…


Via Edsurge: “How to Overcome Apathy and Disillusionment When Standardized Tests Fail Kids.” Spoiler alert: find new things to measure.

A testing story uses a question in the headline, so you know where the link to that one is. (Below, in the Betteridge’s Law of Headlines section.)

Go, School Sports Team!


“When School Spirit Is a Slur” – photographs on Native American mascots by Daniella Zalcman.

Via Deadspin: “High School Ref Who Walked Out Over Anthem Protests Worries About Babies Disrespecting Flag, Had Racist Facebook Posts.” Of course he did.

Via Inside Higher Ed: “NCAA president says after two recent scandals in college athletics, the public is losing faith and major reforms are needed.”

From the HR Department


Via Recode: “Coursera has ousted several senior executives along with many rank-and-file staffers.” (See also: Altschool, and just remember: venture capital and education do not mix.)

The Digital Public Library of America has a new head: John S. Bracken.

The Business of Job Training


Via Reuters: “Awaiting Trump’s coal comeback, miners reject retraining.”

The tech industry is still bullish on the business of tech training nonetheless. This, via Techcrunch: “Kenzie Academy is an ambitious project to bring tech jobs to Middle America.”

Via The New York Times: “Where the STEM Jobs Are (and Where They Aren’t).” My favorite part of the graph is how it excludes health care from life sciences jobs, making it appear as though the latter is grossly overproducing graduates when, in fact, that’s where most of the jobs of the future may well be – in health services.

Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “Demand for Pilots Sparks Instructor Shortage at Colleges’ Flight Programs.”

“Education is not where it’s all at in the learning market. We spend only a fraction of our lives in school, less in college and most of it in work. The corporate training and apprenticeship markets have more headroom, offer more room for innovation and have sustainable budgets and revenues,” says Donald Clark.

“​Filling the Other Skills Gapby Trace Urdan writing in Edsurge.

Via The Hechinger Report: “Without changes in education, the future of work will leave more people behind.”

Ed-Tech Events


Educause is holding its annual conference this week. Reports from the field from The Chronicle of Higher Education: “Ed-Tech Professionals Share What Keeps Them Up at Night.” Also via The Chronicle: “At Educause Meeting, IT Professionals Discuss Misconceptions on Campuses.” From Edsurge: “​Invasive or Informative? Educators Discuss Pros and Cons of Learning Analytics.” Inside Higher Ed also looks at how data is being talked about at the higher ed ed-tech event.

Edsurge is also holding an event this week. Reports from Edsurge Fusion: “The Future Is Always Uncertain. So How Should Educators Prepare Today’s Learners?”

This Week in Betteridge’s Law of Headlines


2 Years After ‘Opt Out,’ Are Students Taking Fewer Tests?asks NPR.

Alexa, Are You Safe For My Kids?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


Via Mother Jones: “Inside Silicon Valley’s Big-Money Push to Remake American Education.” This looks primarily at Summit Public Schools, which works with Facebook to build a learning management system that folks will try to convince you is “personalized learning.”

Via Bloomberg: “Silicon Valley Tried to Reinvent Schools. Now It’s Rebooting.” AltSchool is shutting a school in Palo Alto, Bloomberg reports, so that the company can focus on “strategy, path to growth and finances.” Sucks to be a student at that school, eh? And at this other one too: Business Insider reports that a school in Manhattan’s East Village will also close at the end of the school year. Altschool is one of the best funded education startups – it’s raised some $172 million in venture capital. Its investors include the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, the Omidyar Network, the Emerson Collective, Learn Capital, Andreessen-Horowitz, Founders’ Fund (that’s one of Peter Thiel’s investment firms), John Doerr – you know, the luminaries. Education Week’s Ben Herold has a story that touches on the education, not just the business angle (and, hey, it cites me).

“Why the Best Personalized Learning Programs Start Way Before High School,” according to Edsurge. Not sure what “the best” means here, to be honest. Perhaps not AltSchool though, eh?

“ It’s Time to Take Back Personalized Learning,” says Phyllis Lockett in Edsurge. Take it back from whom? From tech companies, I guess? Although the op-ed was written by the head of a tech company. So I dunno.

Via Techcrunch: “YouTube Kids update gives kids their own profiles, expands controls.” Start ’em young, I guess.

Via Vice: “Google Docs Is Randomly Flagging Files for Violating Its Terms of Service.”

“How Social Media Can Help Teach Good Writing,” according to Edsurge. Nice timing considering all we saw in DC this week about persuasion and Facebook.

Via Education Week: “Fundraising Effort Launches to Help Teachers Forge Connections With Families.” It’s a fundraising effort run through DonorsChoose.org which will fund “family engagement nights.”

Open, Value-Added Services, Interaction, and Learning” by Lumen Learning’s David Wiley.

Math education startup Desmos has updated its “Challenge Creator” to that students can create challenges for one another.

The Boston Globe profiles Edmit, a new startup that promises help finding out what you should pay for college. The company is co-founded by Nick Ducoff, formerly of the OER textbook startup Boundless.

Robots and Other Ed-Tech SF


The IBM Watson PR machine hums along. Via Education Dive: “IBM’s Watson is helping educators choose relevant math lessons.”

“Who’s Ready to Put Their Kid on a Self-Driving School Bus?” asks Wired.

Via Techcrunch: “Sony reboots Aibo with AI and extra kawaii.” The $1700 robot dog also requires a subscription plan. I look forward to hearing people boast about how this puppy will revolutionize education.

Robot stories are also Betteridge’s Law of Headlines stories, wouldn’t you know it?

(Venture) Philanthropy and the Business of Ed Reform


Although there’s been no public announcement, I noticed this in Edsurge’s disclosure on its rewrite of the AltSchool news: apparently the venture philanthopy firm Emerson Collective is now an investor. I’ve updated my Web page tracking Edsurge’s financial ties accordingly.

Via The Dallas Morning News: “Steve Ballmer isn’t trying to re-engineer education, but to support local projects that are already working.”

Via The Non Profit Quarterly: “Gates Foundation Takes Another Hair-Raising Stab at Fixing America’s Schools.”

Venture Capital and the Business of Ed-Tech


Tutoring company Changingedu has raised $55 million in Series D funding from Trustbridge Partners, TAL Education Group, Sequoia Capital, IDG Capital Partners, FREES FUND, and ClearVue Partners.

Wonder Workshop has raised $41 million in Series C funding from CRV, Madrona Venture Group, Tencent Holdings, Sinovation Ventures, WI Harper Group, Softbank Ventures Korea, MindWorks Ventures, TAL Education Group, TCL Capital, and Bright Success Capital. The robotics company, formerly known as play-i, has raised $78.34 million total.

Kano Computing has raised $28 million for its learn-to-code robotics kits. Investors in this Series B round include: Index Ventures, LocalGlobe, Collaborative Fund, Marc Benioff, TriplePoint Capital, Breyer Capital, Barclays PLC, Stanford University Venture Fund, John Makinson, and Thames Trust. The company has raised $44.5 million total.

Fire Tech Camp has raised $863,525 in venture funding from Emerge Education and Cass Entrepreneurship Fund for its afterschool coding classes.

Sunlight has raised $653,900 in seed funding from Seedcamp, Speedinvest, and Annection. The British company, which is building a corporate learning platform, has raised $832,700 total.

Language learning company Blue Canoe Learning has raised $1.4 million in seed funding from Kernal Labs.

Discovery Communications reported “mixed results” in its third quarter, in part because of the “dismal show of the Education and Other division.”

Coding non-profits Code/Interactive and Mouse have merged.

There’s more merger news in the for-profit higher ed section above.

Behavior management company HeroK12 has acquired enrollment management company SchoolMint. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

The venture capital firm Brighteye Ventures has raised $58 million in its first fund, which it plans to invest in ed-tech. Investors were not disclosed.

Privacy, Surveillance, and Information Security


Part 3 of EdTech Strategies’ Doug Levin’s look at schools’ data collection and data security: “Ad Tracking & Surveillance.”

Via Campus Technology: “Purdue App Puts Learning Data into Students’ Hands.” It’s not really “learning data”; it’s data that purports to be about productivity.

Via The Vancouver Sun: “Student information hacked at University of the Fraser Valley.”

“Cheap devices, known as keyloggers, are being used by students to steal professors’ passwords on campus and to change grades,” says Inside Higher Ed.

Via Education Dive: “GreatSchools adds more indicators of school quality in new rating system.”

Via Education Week: “Researchers Push Congress for Better Data Sharing in Education Partnerships.” Researchers from the Data Quality Campaign, that is.

Research, “Research,” and Reports


My latest calculations on VC funding in education: “The Business of Ed-Tech: October 2017 Funding Data.”

From the Mozilla blog: “ 10 Fascinating Things We Learned When We Asked The World ‘How Connected Are You?’”

Campus Technology summarizes a report from Gartner: “Most Higher Ed CIOs Expect Digital Transformation to Cause Significant Change to The Business Model.” ORLY. Compare with the story below…

Via Inside Higher Ed: “Many campus investments in information technology aren’t necessarily paying off, according to the National Survey of Computing, eLearning and Information Technology.”

Inside Higher Ed has posted the results of its latest “Survey of Faculty Attitudes on Technology.” Autumm Caines and Maha Bali respond in ProfHacker.

Via Chalkbeat: “When teachers are better at raising test scores, their students are less happy, study finds.”

Via Education Week: “Students Fare Better When Teachers Have a Say, Study Finds.”

“More Districts Getting What They Pay For From Ed-Tech,” says EdWeek’s Market Brief – according to a study by a company of the districts using its product. Seems legit.

A new report from NMC: “2017 Digital Literacy Impact Study: An NMC Horizon Project Strategic Brief.”

Via EdWeek’s Market Brief: “A Snapshot of Students’ Online Coursetaking: Foreign Languages On the Rise.”

From Mindwires Consulting’s Phil Hill: “State of Higher Ed LMS Market for US and Canada: Fall 2017 Edition.”

“Revised Data Shows Community Colleges Have Been Underappreciated,” says Kevin Carey in The NYT. More on community college graduation data in Inside Higher Ed.

The Edtech Edifice Complexby The World Bank’s Michael Trucano.

“From Good Intentions to Real Outcomes: Equity By Design in Learning Technologiesby Justin Reich and Mimi Ito.

Virtual reality headsets could put children’s health at risk,” according to The Guardian. Let’s count up all the things in this week’s “Weekly News” that Mark Zuckerberg has invested in that have really screwed things and could screw things up still for people. Good job, Mark. Good job.

Icon credits: The Noun Project

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Audrey Watters


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