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(National) Education Politics


The Republican War on College,” by The Atlantic’s Derek Thompson.

Tax bill reflects rift between many Republicans and higher education,” The Washington Post reports. And perhaps it’s not just higher ed. The education reform-minded publication The 74 says that “Educators Warn of ‘Devastating’ Consequences for Charter Schools in New GOP Tax Bill.”

Via Buzzfeed: “Graduate Students Are Freaking Out About The New Tax Bill.”

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai – formerly of Verizon – has announced that “net neutrality” will be dismantled. That could give telecoms – hey! like Verizon! – the ability to throttle or block content online.

Via The New York Times: “Net Neutrality Repeal: What Could Happen and How It Could Affect You.”

Network Neutrality Can’t Fix the Internet,” Ian Bogost argues in The Atlantic.

“Will Reversal of FCC’s ‘Net Neutrality’ Policy Help or Hurt Schools?” asks EdWeek’s Market Brief. I mean, I guess it depends in part on your financial relationship to a telecom, right?

In other bad news from the FCC, this via The Verge: “FCC begins scaling back internet subsidies for low-income homes.”

“Education Dept. Restores Pell Eligibility to Nearly 300,000 Students,” The Chronicle of Higher Education reports.

Via Chalkbeat: “To back up claim that schools must change, DeVos cites made-up statistic about the future of work.”

Via Education Week: “DeVos’ Team Hears Criticisms of Obama-Era Guidance on Student Discipline.”

Via The Washington Post: “Education Department withdraws ‘bomb threat checklist’ that used ‘ebonics’ as an identifier.”

An op-ed in Bloomberg says that “China’s Top Economic Risk? Education.” For what it’s worth, venture capitalists have heavily backed Chinese ed-tech startups this year. (Mostly tutoring companies.)

(State and Local) Education Politics


Via Fredericksburg.com: “Virginia will require computer science education in high school.”

Via The Detroit Free Press: “Vendor Norman Shy, convicted in Detroit school kickback scheme, cuts $1.5M restitution check.”

Via Carolina Public Press: “Emails shed light on school canceling activist’s appearance.” The activist in question is Bree Newsome, best known for scaling the flag pole at the South Carolina State House to take down the Confederate flag.

Note the completely unbiased headline here. “Despite Startling Achievement Gaps, San Francisco Board Rejects Bid to Bring KIPP School to Poor Neighborhood,” says The 74.

Immigration and Education


ICE officials have invited tech companies, including Microsoft, to develop algorithms that will track visa holders’ social media activity,” ProPublica reports. Schools should consider the ways in which their own social media surveillance re-inscribes these sorts of violent, nationalist policies.

Via Longreads: “The True Story of Refugees in an American High School.”

Education in the Courts


Via Politico: “The New Mexico Supreme Court will reconsider a case that could end up as voucher proponents’ next best shot at scrapping provisions in most states that prohibit public money from supporting religious schools. That’s especially the case now that another high-profile legal challenge, to a Colorado voucher program, is in question after anti-voucher candidates swept a recent school board race.”

Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “Justice Dept. Says Harvard Is Not Complying With Probe on Race in Admissions.” More via The Wall Street Journal and via Buzzfeed.

Via The Root: “Virginia Mother Charged With Felony After Putting Recording Device in Daughter’s Backpack to Catch Bullies.”

The Business of Student Loans


Via The New York Times: “When Unpaid Student Loan Bills Mean You Can No Longer Work.”

Via Politico: “The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau on Tuesday accused Citibank of misleading student loan borrowers about tax benefits, incorrectly charging late fees and other practices it says violated federal consumer protection law. Citibank has agreed to pay a $2.75 million civil penalty, pay $3.75 million in borrower refunds and make changes to its servicing practices to resolve the allegations.”

There’s more research on student loan fraud in the for-profit higher ed section below.

The “New” For-Profit Higher Ed


Via The Chicago Tribune: “Almost all student loan fraud claims involve for-profit colleges, study finds.”

Online Education and the Once and Future “MOOC”


The University of Iceland has joined edX.

Via Chalkbeat: “Policymakers agree virtual schools should get more teachers and less money. Will they make it happen?” Perhaps this headline is better suited for the Betteridge’s Law section below.

Meanwhile on Campus…


Here’s the Mashable headline: “This school plans to create an ‘unsafe space’ and it’s causing controversy.” “This school” is a grammar school in Kent. And it’s “announced plans to create an ‘unsafe space’ to discuss texts including Mein Kampf and topics such as the infamous memo by ex-Google employee James Damore, who claimed there are ‘biological causes’ that prevent more women from getting jobs in tech.” “Unsafe space” is the phrase used by many men of the alt-right to talk about ways in which they can continue to keep people of color and white women out of male-dominated spaces.

Via Inside Higher Ed: “After a special meeting of the University of Michigan Board of Regents, the university announced late Tuesday that it would permit – if certain conditions are met – the white supremacist Richard Spencer to appear on campus.”

“White nationalist Richard Spencer banned from 26 European nations,” The LA Times says. But he’s still welcome on college campuses and Twitter. What a time to be alive.

Via The Washington Post: “ A self-proclaimed Nazi is banned from his college campus in Florida – but allowed to remain a student.” That’s Ken Parker, former KKK grand dragon, who’s banned from the University of North Florida.

“A recording of the way professors at Wilfrid Laurier University questioned a teaching assistant about her use of a debate video in class has set off a major dispute about academic freedom in Canada,” says Inside Higher Ed.

Via The New York Times: “Questioning Evolution: The Push to Change Science Class.”

Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “Prominent Creative-Writing Professor at UVa Is Accused of Sexually Harassing Students.” The professor in question: John Casey.

This isn’t a “meanwhile on campus story,” but I’m not sure where else to put articles about sexual harassment and sexual assault. So it’ll go here. From The Verge’s Sarah Jeong: “In chatlogs, celebrated hacker and activist confesses countless sexual assaults.” The celebrated hacker in question: Morgan Marquis-Boire.

Oh look. Another story about harassment. Via The Washington Post: “ The TED talks empire has been grappling with sexual harassment, interviews and internal emails show.”

Education Dive profiles Khan Academy’s Khan Lab School. (It will be interesting to compare the success or failure of Khan Lab School with the failure of AltSchool. Or the school below…)

Via The New York Times: “Disrupting the World of Private School With Tech and Guinea Pigs.” That’s the Portfolio School.

Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “‘Ring by Spring’: How Christian Colleges Fuel Students’ Rush to Get Engaged.”

Accreditations and Certifications and Competencies (and Dreams of the Blockchain)


“Thanks To Blockchain, You Can See What Your Thanksgiving Turkey Looked Like As A Child,” Buzzfeed tells us. So just imagine the education applications!

From the EU’s JRC: “Blockchain in Education.”

Smartdiploma.io – “Blockchain Anti-Falsification Solution for Academic Diplomas and Certificates.”

Pearson, WTF? Badges, patents, and the world’s ‘least popular’ education company” by Doug Belshaw.

More research on a GED program – the GED is one of the original competency-based education efforts – in the research section below.

Via Getting Smart: “How Competency-Based Education Can Lead to A More Equitable Classroom.” Just like the GED has done. Cough.

Via Inside Higher Ed: “Luna CC Faces Loss of Accreditation.”

Testing, Testing…


Via The Houston Chronicle: “Cancelling STAAR tests in Harvey’s wake could wipe out federal funding, TEA leader says.”

From the HR Department


Via Mindwires Consulting’s Phil Hill: “Big Changes at Unizin: CEO and COO resign after board meeting.”

Via Inside Higher Ed: “Diane Auer Jones, a former assistant secretary of education in the George W. Bush administration, has joined the U.S. Department of Labor as a senior policy adviser.”

The Business of Job Training


Via The MIT Technology Review: “Finally, a Useful Application for VR: Training Employees.” Starring Walmart. (I don’t understand this at all. Why VR?)

Via Techcrunch: “HBCU.vc trains students become venture capitalists.”

Coding Boot Camps Are in Trouble, but New York City Has a Plan to Shape Them Up,” says MIT Technology Review. (“The Plan” is really more of “a report.”)

Via the Google blog: “Investing £1 million in training for computing teachers in the U.K.

Learning to code will eventually be as useful as learning Ancient Greek,” Quartz claims.

Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “A Challenge for Higher Ed: Modernize Manufacturing, but Protect Jobs.”

This Week in Betteridge’s Law of Headlines


Can Online Credit Recovery Recover?asks Michael Horn in Edsurge, perpetually hopeful that disruptive innovation will save the day.

Are Parent-Teacher Conferences Becoming Obsolete?asks The Atlantic.

(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


“A Silicon Valley startup is quietly taking over U.S. classrooms,” Axios claims. Apparently the startup is Kiddom. And frankly it blows my mind that people want to chastise me for calling out the terrible PR that poses as ed-tech journalism.

Via Edsurge: “Modeled on Zillow, Edmit Wants to Help Families Make Financially Savvier College Decisions.”

More coverage of AltSchool in the tech press – via Business Insider: “Tech billionaires spent $170 million on a new kind of school – now classrooms are shrinking and some parents say their kids are ‘guinea pigs’.” And via Techcrunch: “AltSchool wants to change how kids learn, but fears have surfaced that it’s failing students.” “Fears have surfaced” – LOL. Here’s me, three years ago… “surfacing fears” or something.

Remember how Apple recently claimed that its stores were like “the public square”? Yeah. About that vision of “the public.” As The Outline notes, “Apple only wants to put its stores where white people live.”

YouTube Is Addressing Its Massive Child Exploitation Problem,” says Buzzfeed. YouTube gets little credit for this clean-up in my book, however, as it took journalists to uncover and talk about the problem.

Speaking of child exploitation, this via The Financial Times: “Apple’s iPhone X assembled by illegal student labour.”

Via ProPublica: “Facebook (Still) Letting Housing Advertisers Exclude Users by Race.” “Personalization.”

(Related, this assignment from Davidson College’s Mark Sample: “Hacking Facebook’s Ad Network for Justice.”)

Via Education Week: “Why Neuroscience Should Drive Personalized Learning” – because of “the propagation of myths and misinformation.” As if neuroscience gets you out of that dilemma. Ha.

Via Boing Boing: “Scientist puts his dog on the editorial boards of seven predatory journals as proof of their negligence.”

Mindwires Consulting’s Phil Hill says that “A change in direction and a likely change in culture” is coming. TBH, I still can’t remember what Unizin actually is. There’s more on Unizin in the HR section above.

The business of OER.

The business of Peter Thiel. Via Buzzfeed: “Y Combinator Cuts Ties With Peter Thiel After Ending Part-Time Partner Program.” And Buzzfeed reports that “Peter Thiel May Be Looking To Buy Gawker.com.” (Here’s a story from last year I wrote on Thiel’s ed-tech investment portfolio.)

Mindwires Consulting’s Michael Feldstein continues to fight the LMS fight: “Fear and Loathing in the Moodle Community.”

“​We Don’t Need More Alternatives to College,” says Edsurge. Or more accurately, the advice here is “don’t market your ‘alternative to college’ business as an alternative to college.”

I don’t always include partnership announcements here because they’re typically much ado about nothing. But consider how well-funded these two startups are, I think it’s noteworthy that that’s what they’re resorting to: the ol’ “partnership” press release. From the Edmodo blog: “We’re Partnering with Clever to Give Districts Automatic Digital Classrooms!”

Robots and Other Ed-Tech SF


Via The Washington Post: “When your kid tries to say ‘Alexa’ before ‘Mama’.”

Via Edsurge: “Educators on Artificial Intelligence: Here’s the One Thing It Can’t Do Well.” Spoiler alert: AI doesn’t care.

Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “How Real-World Learning Could Help People Compete With Machines.”

Venture Capital and the Business of Ed-Tech


The student travel abroad company WorldStrides has raised $500 million from Eurazeo and Primavera Capital Group.

UBTech has raised $400 million from Tencent Holdings. The company, which makes educational and entertainment robots, has raised $520 million total.

HopSkipDrive has raised $7.4 million for its “Uber for kids” business. Investors include Upfront Ventures, FirstMark, and Student Transportation Inc. The company, which isn’t just driving is babysitting on demand too, has raised $21.5 million total. Why anyone would let “Uber for” anything near their kids is sorta beyond me.

Edmit has raised $855,000 from Bessemer Venture Partners, Wan Li Zhu, Rob Biederman, Anthony Accardi, Bill Triant, Peter Temes, and Shereen Shermak. The company, which says it will help students find the cheapest college to attend, is profiled by Edsurge in a story above.

Privacy, Surveillance, and Information Security


A special shout-out to all the people who’ve called for an “Uber for Education.” Really, you couldn’t have picked a worse model. This week’s Uber news, via Bloomberg: “Uber Paid Hackers to Delete Stolen Data on 57 Million People.” More via The NYT: “Uber Hid 2016 Breach, Paying Hackers to Delete Stolen Data.”

Via Techcrunch: “Germany bans smartwatches for kids over spying concerns.”

This seems to fly in the face of the library profession’s belief in privacy. But hey. Big data!

Via Quartz: “Google collects Android users’ locations even when location services are disabled.”

Via EdTech Strategies’ Doug Levin: “The COPPA Rule, FERPA, and the Security of Student Data.”

More on surveillance in the courts section above.

Research, “Research,” and Reports


From investors Chian Gong and Jennifer Carolan, writing in Edsurge: “Spotting the 2017 Trends That Fuel Edtech Innovation and Investments.” (No surprise, my review of “2017 trends” will be very different.)

A report funded by Amazon from the Family Online Safety Institute: “Connected Families: How Parents Think & Feel about Wearables, Toys, and the Internet of Things.”

Via Education Week: “What 150 Years of Education Statistics Say About Schools Today.”

More from the Paradise Papers, via ICIJ: “More than 100 universities and colleges included in Offshore Leaks Database.”

Via Education Dive: “Study shows Bridge GED programs help students continue on to college.”

There’s more research on student loan fraud in the for-profit higher ed section above.

“When people move to different jobs, here’s where they go” – as visualized by Flowing Data.

“Where Do Ideas of ‘Success’ and ‘Failure’ in Schooling Come From?” asks Stanford’s Larry Cuban.

Variations on this argument. Again. Via The 74: “New Study Shows American Kids Do Better on Tests If You Pay for Answers.”

This, via The Guardian, isn’t necessarily ed-tech. But my goodness, with all the “brain training” products and neurobollocks that schools are being told they should buy, pay attention nonetheless: “Can brain training reduce dementia risk? Despite new research, the jury is still out.”

New Research Answers Whether Technology is Good or Bad for Learning,” Michael Horn claims. No. No it doesn’t.

Via FOX News: “Rocket launch will prove Earth is flat, California man says.” Project-based learning, FTW.

Via The NYT: “Cockatoos Rival Children in Shape Recognition.” Clearly they also rival people who refuse to believe the Earth is round.

Icon credits: The Noun Project

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Audrey Watters


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