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(National) Education Politics


“15 Ways Taylor Swift’s Lyrics Solve Education Policy’s Most Pressing Issues” is, no doubt, the most godawful white lady thing I’ve seen this week in education news. And that is saying a lot.

“The House Just Voted to Bankrupt Graduate Students,” says Erin Rousseau in The New York Times. “House Republicans on Thursday pushed through tax reform legislation widely opposed by higher education leaders who say many of its provisions will make a college degree less attainable and hurt the financial strength of institutions,” says Inside Higher Ed.

More on the Republicans’ tax plansVia Education Week: “New Senate Tax Plan Doubles Teachers’ Deduction for Buying Classroom Supplies.” Via CNN: “House tax plan allows unborn children to have college savings accounts.”

This is terrible and will hurt poor people. Via the press release: “Congressmen Francis Rooney (FL–19) and Ralph Norman (SC–05) introduced the Pell for Performance Act. This legislation seeks to motivate students to graduate within six years. If students are not able to complete their degree within six years, this act would compel them to repay the grant in the form of an unsubsidized Stafford Loan.”

Via Chalkbeat: “Trump education nominee pleads ignorance about high-profile voucher studies showing negative results.”

Via Politico: “The Education Department’s Office for Civil Rights could lose 45 employees because of early separation offers – a big hit to an office that many argue is understaffed to handle the number of complaints it receives each year. In fiscal 2017, the office was funded to employ 569 staff members, according to the department’s budget request from earlier this year.”

From the Bloomberg Editorial Board: “A Raw Deal From Betsy DeVos” – “Rolling back regulations on the for-profit college industry will cause the public pain.”

Education Week reports that, in front of a room full of CEOs, Secretary of Education Betsy "DeVos argued that 65 percent of today’s kindergartners will end up in jobs that haven’t even been created yet." That’s fake news, Betsy – a completely made-up statistic. But weirdly there’s a ton of that in edu.

“Schools across the country are about to be held accountable for student attendance – attaching stakes to a measure that previously had much less significance and increasing the risk that schools will try to manipulate that data,” according to Chalkbeat’s Matt Barnum.

Via Inside Higher Ed: “The Department of Education on Monday released the names of 16 negotiators and their alternates who will look to reach agreement on a new gainful-employment regulation.”

Via Inside Higher Ed: “Breaking with longstanding tradition – through Democratic and Republican administrations – President Trump will not host a meeting with this year’s American Nobel laureates.”

Via The Washington Post: “ Trump personally asked Xi Jinping to help resolve case of UCLA basketball players arrested in China.”

For those keeping track of how great social media is for the future of education and knowledge and civics and such: “Last Year, Social Media Was Used to Influence Elections in at Least 18 Countries,” says the MIT Technology Review.

Via The Wall Street Journal: “Mueller Probes Flynn’s Role in Alleged Plan to Deliver Cleric to Turkey.” I’m including this in this weekly round-up of education news because the cleric in question, Fethullah Gulen, runs a chain of charter schools in the US.

(State and Local) Education Politics


Via The Mercury News: “Working homeless forced to move in East Palo Alto.”

The housing crisis has shown acute symptoms in East Palo Alto schools. Ravenswood City School District Superintendent Gloria Hernandez-Goff said the homeless student population in the district has swelled from 25 percent at the start of last school year to 58 percent today. The district has stepped up efforts to feed children at school and distribute groceries to families in need.

Homeless families are being forced to move in order to make way for The Primary School, a new school founded and funded by the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative. How’s that “whole child” thing working for you, Zuck?

Via Education Week: “Baltimore County School Officials in Hot Water Over Ed-Tech Contracts.”

Google Is Being Investigated By Missouri Attorney General,” Fortune reports. Oh and look at this: “Google Critic [Peter] Thiel Gave Money to Official Probing Search Giant,” Bloomberg reports.

More shadiness from Thiel in the campus news section below.

Via Education Week: “Even When States Revise Standards, the Core of the Common Core Remains.”

Via Maine Public Radio: “What Proficiency-Based Education Looks Like Inside One Maine District.”

Via Chalkbeat: “Parent files complaint saying New York City improperly shared student information to aid with charter recruitment.”

Immigration and Education


Post Office Fails to Deliver on Time, and DACA Applications Get Rejected,” The New York Times reported last Friday. The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services initially said that there was nothing they could do, but the agency appears to have changed its mind and will review the applications.

Via NPR: “As DACA Winds Down, DREAMers Turn Toward Different Futures.”

Education in the Courts


Via Inside Higher Ed: “Frustrated with the slow resolution of loan forgiveness claims at the Department of Education, two borrowers have filed a lawsuit against Education Secretary Betsy DeVos and loan servicing company Navient in federal court.”

The Business of Student Loans


Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “Student-Loan Borrowers Await Debt Relief on Nearly 100,000 Claims That They Were Defrauded.”

Via The New York Times: “Behind the Lucrative Assembly Line of Student Debt Lawsuits.”

Via Inside Higher Ed: “Recently released federal data show that 17 percent of federal student debt holders are over the age of 50. This group of older borrowers collectively hold $247 billion in student debt, an amount that has roughly tripled since 2003.”

Via the BBC: “BBC Panorama spent 10 months investigating dishonest education agents and bogus students who are committing frauds that target private colleges – also known as alternative providers – which offer courses approved for student loans.”

Still more student loan news in the legal section above.

I’m not including these in my calculations of ed-tech funding, but it is worth noting how much attention (and money) the private loan industry is attracting at the moment. Here are a couple of headlines from the week from Techcrunch – This one boasts no human decision-making on applications: “Kabbage gets $200M from Credit Suisse to expand its AI-based business loans.” And this one is really something: “Kinder, gentler debt collector TrueAccord raises $22 million.”

The “New” For-Profit Higher Ed


The Chronicle of Higher Education with a look “Inside the Scramble to Save Ashford U.” And following that investigation, “Ashford University announced this week that it has temporarily suspended new enrollment of veteran students who receive the Post–9/11 GI Bill, ” Inside Higher Ed reports.

Via The Economist: “For-profit colleges in America relaunch themselves as non-profits.”

From the press release: “William Hansen Joins Career Education Corporation Board of Directors.” Hansen is one of those figures that really demonstrates the political and financial networks that govern education. He was Deputy Secretary of Education under George W. Bush. He was the chairman of Scantron. He has been the president of the student loan org Strada Education Network (formerly known as USA Funds) since 2013.

Via Inside Higher Ed: “Legal education observers say accreditation issues at Florida Coastal School of Law – whose graduates have struggled to pay off loans – should lead to tougher look at its parent company, InfiLaw.”

All the fraud and all the deceptive practices and all the people that are hurt by for-profit higher ed and you still get headlines like this: “4 For-Profit Education Stocks to Enrich Your Portfolio.”

More on debt relief for students defrauded by for-profits in the student loan section below. And there’s more on regulating the industry (or ya know, not) in the national politics section above.

Online Education and the Once and Future “MOOC”


Via Edsurge: “Are You Getting a Pay Bump For Student Completion? Virtual Schools Dish Out the Dough.”

Via Chalkbeat: “Former Indiana schools chief Glenda Ritz: Virtual schools ‘prey’ on vulnerable students.”

“Whatever Happened To MOOCs?” asks Stanford’s Larry Cuban.

Coursera announces on its blog that it’s expanding to Brazil.

It’s good to shake up your “everyone should learn to code” messaging sometimes, I guess. Here’s Coursera arguing “Why Everyone Should Learn Sales.”

The Chronicle of Higher Education examines faculty objections to online education at Eastern Michigan University.

Via Inside Higher Ed: “California community colleges look to create a new statewide​, online-only college that will focus on helping adult students earn credentials.”

Meanwhile on Campus…


“Harvard Business School professor: Half of American colleges will be bankrupt in 10 to 15 years,” says CNBC. Clayton Christensen made the same prediction – “half of colleges will be bankrupt in 10 to 15 years” – five years ago.

Perhaps I need to start a new section in this article where I look at these sorts of bullshit predictions and proclamations and cliches. “The industrial model of education is failing” and whatnot.

Inside Higher Ed calls recent school closures “Days of Reckoning.” If you repeat these stories enough, it’s almost as if you can convince people to make it a trend.

Via Ars Technica: “University could lose millions from ‘unethical’ research backed by Peter Thiel.” The details: “Questionable herpes vaccine research backed by tech heavyweight Peter Thiel may have jeopardized $15 million in federal research funding to Southern Illinois University School of Medicine.”

Via Business Insider: “Elon Musk launched a secretive LA private school for his kids 4 years ago and there are still almost no details available.”

“Film company behind Love Actually to open school in London,” The Guardian reports.

Via the NEA: “Follow the Money: The School-to-(Privatized)-Prison Pipeline.”

CNN, following another school shooting this week: “How active shooters are changing school security in the US.” Many of these measures, I’d argue, do fall under the umbrella of “ed-tech,” but let’s see if it gets positioned that way by Silicon Valley-backed journalism.

Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “Sexual Harassment and Assault in Higher Ed: What’s Happened Since Weinstein.”

Via The Huffington Post: “Grad Student Says Princeton Prof Who Sexually Harassed Her Was Given Slap On The Wrist.”

Inside Higher Ed looks at how Notre Dame is changing its policies and practices regarding campus sexual assault.

Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “Dozens of Spelman Professors Support Student Campaign That Has Named Harassers.”

“Professors from around the world say they won’t advise students to study or work at Rochester in light of institution’s alleged attempts to downplay serious harassment case. Is this next tactic in battle against discrimination?” Inside Higher Ed asks.

Via The Columbus Dispatch: “Ohio State accuses 83 students of cheating in a business class.” The students allegedly used the group messaging app GroupMe to collaborate. Sounds scandalous.

Via Education Dive: “Gordon Gee: For higher ed to survive, we’ve got to ‘blow up the box’.” Gee is the president of West Virginia University. “The box,” I guess, is what Gee believes universities fail to think outside of.

Valparaiso University says it will no longer admit new students to its law school (but insists that the law school isn’t closing).

The Wall Street Journal criticizes student protesters at Williams College. (They were protesting frequently WSJ contributor and anti-feminist Christina Hoff Sommers.)

Williams College President Adam Falk in WaPo: “Don’t ignore the real threats in the debate over free speech.”

Inside Higher Ed on Richard Spencer’s speech at Stanford.

Via The 74: “Educators Report Being Surprised by a Homecoming Surge in Hate Speech at Their Schools.”

Inside Higher Ed has Judith Butler’s reaction to having an effigy of her burned outside a talk she gave in Brazil.

Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “A University’s Free-Speech Committee Pledges Transparency – Then Closes Its Meetings to the Public.” The university in question: Ohio.

Via Radio Free Asia: “University in China’s Guizhou Cancels Outspoken Economics Professor’s Classes.”

In other news about academic freedom – via Inside Higher Ed: “The University of Memphis is reportedly investigating Judy Cole, a professor of nursing, for comments she made on Twitter about Sarah Huckabee Sanders, White House press secretary.”

Via The Columbus Dispatch: “Activities suspended at all Ohio State fraternities governed by IFC.”

Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “How a Defense Dept. Program Equips Campus Police Forces.”

“Willing, able and forgotten” – a series on high school students with disabilities in The Hechinger Report.

“The Ivory Tower Can’t Keep Ignoring Tech,” says Cathy O’Neil in a NYT op-ed, arguing that no one in academia is paying attention to algorithms. “Yeah, pretty sure we don’t, but thanks for minimizing our contributions and perpetuating ‘ivory tower’ stereotypes,” scholars responded.

Accreditations and Certifications and Competencies


Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “Accreditor Apologizes for Suggestion That UNC Might Be Investigated Again.”

Questions about the accreditation of for-profits in the for-profit higher ed section above.

Testing, Testing…


Via Chalkbeat: “Fired testing company seeks $25.3 million for work on TNReady’s bumpy rollout.”

Go, School Sports Team!


More about the UCLA basketball players arrested in China in the national politics section… because Trump.

From the HR Department


More sexual harassment accusations in venture capitalism. Via Techcrunch: “VC Steve Jurvetson is leaving Draper Fisher Jurvetson.”

Via Essense: “Being Black In Tech: A Black Female Engineer Says Google CEO Mistook Her For An Assistant.” Eric Schmidt told her to put a sign on her door explaining her role at the company. WTF.

The Business of Job Training


There’s often a pattern to the education news – or at least, to the stories that get shouted the loudest and spread the widest in any given week.

Via The 74: “Report: 30 Million Well-Paying Jobs, Mostly in the West and South, Exist for Workers Without Bachelor’s Degrees.”

You Can Get a Good Job Without a Bachelor’s Degree,” Bloomberg insists. You just need the right training apparently.

Via Education Week: “Betsy DeVos: Stop ‘Forcing’ Four-Year Degrees as Only Pathway to Success.”

Tech Illiteracy Will Get You Fired Long Before Automation Does” – that’s the headline from the MIT Technology Review on a new report from the Brookings Institution: “Digitalization and the American workforce.” Via Education Week: “Jobs of All Types Now Require More Digital Skills, Brookings Report Finds.” This is a particularly hilarious sentence: “It is probably fair to say that the social good of having every high school student in America learn Salesforce might outstrip other trendier agendas in tech.” I think many historians of ed-tech would note that this has long been the argument for teaching Microsoft productivity tools in lieu of computer science. (Related: last week, Edsurge touted Salesforce as helping close the "skills gap.")

Via CNBC: “Trade school, not 4-year college, is a better bet to solve the US income gap, researchers say.”

“Why the U.S. Fails at Worker Training” – according to The Atlantic at least.

“Nearly Everyone Supports Career Education. But What Would Make It Work?” asks The Chronicle of Higher Education.

This Week in Betteridge’s Law of Headlines


Do Professors Need Automated Help Grading Online Comments?asks Inside Higher Ed.

As devices replace textbooks, should students be charged fees?asks Education Dive.

Can These New Colleges Help Solve Higher Education’s Equity Problem?asks Edsurge.

Does Academia Need Another Alternative to For-Profit Scholarly Platforms?asks Edsurge.

(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


Edsurge with the second story on brain-wave monitoring startups in almost as many weeks: “Brainwave Headsets Are Making Their Way Into Classrooms – For Meditation and Discipline.” They’re not really making their way into classrooms, incidentally. This is a story about one experiment conducted with a Muse headset by a Kansas State University researcher. Did you know Ashton Kutcher is an investor in Muse? Must be legit then.

The New York Times lists mind control as one of the “Five Technologies That Will Rock Your World.”

Mindset marketing from Pearson: “3 steps to upgrade your GRIT in education.” GRIT is one of Pearson’s “mindset”-oriented career success programs.

More wishful thinking via Getting Smart: “How Virtual Reality and Embodied Learning Could Disrupt Education.”

Speaking of predictions about the coming disruption, I sure do seem to remember a lot of that hype about Second Life. Wonder what’s going on in that virtual world these days? Oh.

Via Boing Boing: “Dupes gather at sold-out Flat Earth International Conference.”

Digital Polarization on Pinterest Is Scary Aggressive,” says WSU’s Mike Caulfield.

Via The Guardian: “ Tim Berners-Lee on the future of the web: ‘The system is failing’.”

It is not entirely clear to me what, per this Edsurge op-ed, higher ed can learn from precision medicine.

Via Techcrunch: “Facebook, Google and others join The Trust Project, an effort to increase transparency around online news.”

Via Poynter: “Do Facebook and Google have control of their algorithms anymore? A sobering assessment and a warning.”

Edsurge rewrites the news, which is of course the point – it’s clickbait: “Forbes’ 2018 ‘30 Under 30’ Came Early This Year. Here’s Who Made the Education List.” WaPo’s Valerie Strauss is shocked no teachers made the list. No teachers ever make the list, I don’t think, unless they’re affiliated with TFA. TFA’s Wendy Kopp was one of the judges this year, as were venture capitalist Arne Duncan and venture capitalist Stacey Childress and venture capitalist Marcus Noel.

Stephen Downes and David Wiley debate OER: “The Cost Trap, Part 3” by David Wiley. “The Real Goal of Open Educational Resources” by Stephen Downes. “More on the Cost Trap and Inclusive Access” by David Wiley. “If We Talked About the Internet Like We Talk About OER” by Stephen Downes. “If We Talked About the Internet Like We Talk About OER: The Cost Trap and Inclusive Access” by David Wiley. I might have missed some in this back-and-forth.

Pearson Closes DRM-Free eBookstore, Will Delete All eBooks From Customers’ Account,” The Digital Reader reports.

Microsoft is building a new version of Skype for tutors and consultants,” says The Next Web.

Via Techcrunch: “SnapType makes it easy for kids with learning disabilities to do their homework.”

Via Techcrunch: “Pip is a retro games console for kids to learn coding.”

“Why do so few schools try LiveCode? We let industry dictate our tools,” says Georgia Tech’s Mark Guzdial.

Via Boing Boing: “For sale: surplus nightmare fuel vintage manikins from a defunct dental school.”

Robots and Other Ed-Tech SF


Via Edsurge: “Help! This Edtech Company Says It Uses AI. (What Does That Mean? What Should I Ask?)”

Via University Business: “The drone zone in higher education.” “Unmanned aerial vehicles see an increased role in campus safety and security,” the publication claims.

Via Edsurge: “Learning From Algorithms: Who Controls AI in Higher Ed, And Why It Matters (Part 2).”

(Venture) Philanthropy and the Business of Ed Reform


Chan Zuckerberg Backs Personalized Learning R&D Agenda,” says fellow investor Tom Vander Ark.

More on CZI and homelessness in East Palo Alto in the local politics section above.

Via Chalkbeat: “Where do the nation’s big charter boosters send their cash? More and more to charter networks.”

Via Naked Capitalism: “The Super Wealthy Oxycontin Family Supports School Privatization With Tactics Similar to Those That Fueled the Opioid Epidemic.” That’s the Sackler family.

Venture Capital and the Business of Ed-Tech


Chinese online education company Yixue Education has raised $41 million from NGP Capital, SIG China, CASH Capital, New Oriental Education & Technology, and Greenwood Management.

Lessonly has raised $8 million in Series B funding from Rethink Education, Allos Ventures, High Alpha, and OpenView. The corporate training company has raised $14.1 million total.

SAM Labs has raised $6.75 million in Series A funding from Touchstone Innovations and E15 Ventures. The learn-to-code company has raised $11.2 million total.

Night Zookeeper has raised $793,000 in funding from Newable. The storytelling company has raised about $1.5 million total.

School-Pass has raised an undisclosed amount of money from A3 Education.

Tech Shop has closed its doors and filed for bankruptcy. The workshop space for “makers” had raised $4.7 million in venture capital.

ExploreLearning has acquired IS3D.

The Chinese tutoring company Four Seasons Education has gone public.

Privacy, Surveillance, and Information Security


“The Internet of Shit is so manifestly insecure that people are staying away from it in droves,” says Boing Boing. Except in education, of course, where we hear all the time about how IOT will revolutionize school.

Via Techcrunch: “Call to ban sale of IoT toys with proven security flaws.”

Via The Stanford Daily: “Privacy breaches in University file system affect 200 people.”

Via EWA.org: “When Cyber-Hackers Attack, School Districts Are Paying the Ransom.”

Research, “Research,” and Reports


Via The Huffington Post: “Prominent Scholar Calls Growth Mindset A ‘Cancerous’ Idea, In Isolation.” The scholar: San Diego State University’s Luke Wood.

Via Chalkbeat: “Gutting Wisconsin teachers unions hurt students, study finds.”

Via USA Today: “The charter school breakthrough doesn’t work for boys.”

Via The Atlantic: “A new paper argues that using behavioral economics to ease families’ fear of change could help convince them to switch up their children’s routines.”

Via Edscoop: “Report: Rural schools outpace urban, suburban peers in access to technology.” The report is from based on BrightBytes’ customers and data, so caveat emptor.

Via Mindshift: “Increased Hours Online Correlate With Uptick In Teen Depression, Suicidal Thoughts.”

EdWeek’s Market Brief on a report from the National Association of State Budget Officers: “State Spending on K–12 Rises Slightly in 2017, Despite Headwinds.”

From UVA’s Daniel Willingham: “Three versions of personalized learning, three challenges.”

Via Education Week: “Boys Read Better When There Are More Girls in Class, Study Finds.”

Via Inside Higher Ed: “Open Doors survey shows declines in new international students starting in fall 2016, after years of growth. This fall universities report an average 7 percent decline in new international students.”

Via The Hechinger Report: “Better tests don’t lead to better teaching, study finds.”

Via NPR: “New Study Finds That 4.2 Million Kids Experience Homelessness Each Year.” But onward with those corporate tax cuts, Republicans.

More reports, research, and data in the student loan and job training sections above.

Icon credits: The Noun Project

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Audrey Watters


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