(National) Education Politics

The GOP passed their tax plan. Various education-related updates – via The New York Times: “How the Republican Tax Plan Uses School Savings to Hurt States.” Via Education Week: “Final Tax Bill Keeps Teacher Deduction at $250, Cuts State and Local Deductions.” Via Inside Higher Ed: “Final GOP Deal Would Tax Large Endowments.” Via Buzzfeed: “A Small College That Mostly Accepts Poor Students Is A Last-Minute Loser In The New Tax Plan.” (That’s Berea College. More on the Kentucky college in The Chronicle of Higher Education.)

US Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos gave a commencement speech in at the University of Baltimore this week. Via The Atlantic: “The Significance of Betsy DeVos’s Speech in Baltimore.”

Via Chalkbeat: “Four takeaways from Betsy DeVos’s summit on innovation in K–12 education.”

Via The Washington Post: “Education Department proposes delaying Obama-era rule on racial disparities in special education.”

More news on student loans in the student loan section below.

Via Edsurge: “What’s In? What’s Out? And What’s Likely? Decoding Higher Ed Act Reauthorization.”

More thoughts on the revocation of “Net Neutrality” regulations – from “Dean Dad” Matt Reed: “Net Neutrality and Online Teaching.” Via Edsurge: “From Neutrality to Inequality: Why the FCC Is Dismantling Equal Access and What It Could Mean for Education.” “Net Neutrality Was Never Enough,” says Ian Bogost in The Atlantic.

(State and Local) Education Politics

New York Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña will step down from her position in the new year. More on the news in the HR section below.

Two school districts in two states are scaling back their use of the Facebook-built Summit Public Schools’ learning management system. Via Edsurge: “Connecticut School District Suspends Use of Summit Learning Platform.” Via The Indiana Gazette: “Directors vote to scale back Summit Learning program.” That’s the Indiana Area School District in Pennsylvania.

Via Inside Higher Ed: “New York Governor Andrew Cuomo vetoed legislation Tuesday that would have extended the state’s tuition-free scholarships to for-profit institutions.”

Via Education Week: “A Cheating Scandal Rocked Atlanta’s Schools. Ten Years Later, Efforts to Help Affected Students Fall Short.”

São Paulo has approved a bill that would allow companies to manufacture school uniforms and sell branding and sponsorship opportunities on the clothing.

Via Motherboard: “New York City Passes Bill to Study Biases in Algorithms Used by the City.” The city uses algorithms, for example, to place students in public schools.

Via Wired: “Koch Brothers Are Cities’ New Obstacle to Building Broadband.”

From Chalkbeat’s Indiana newsroom: “Parents and educators worry about how new graduation rules will affect students with disabilities.”

Education in the Courts

Via NPR: “Grand Jury Report On Penn State Hazing Finds ‘Indignities And Depravities’.”

The Business (and Politics) of Student Loans

Betsy DeVos Is Slashing Student Loan Relief For Defrauded Students,” writes Buzzfeed’s Molly Hensley-Clancy. “A new Education Department policy will dramatically limit the amount of student loan relief some students get after being misled by their schools.” More via Inside Higher Ed.

The “New” For-Profit Higher Ed

NPR reviews the year in for-profit education.

Online Education (and the Once and Future “MOOC”)

A call to rebrand MOOCs, from Edsurge.

Via Education Week: “Cyber Charters’ Struggles: An Update Showing New Troubles in 8 States.”

Meanwhile on Campus…

Via The New Yorker: “A Conservative Nonprofit That Seeks to Transform College Campuses Faces Allegations of Racial Bias and Illegal Campaign Activity.” Why, it’s almost as if “free speech” is a smokescreen used by Turning Point USA.

Via The Atlantic: “The Changing Landscape of Student Protest in Higher Education.”

“The Education of Lyle Clinton May” – Inside Higher Ed on prison education.

Via Edsurge: “The Possibilities for Tech (and Screentime) in the Preschool Classroom.”

Via Inside Higher Ed: “Sweet Briar College is eliminating more than 10 percent of its faculty, including tenured faculty positions, as it puts in place a new core curriculum and restructures academic programs.”

Accreditations and Certifications and Competencies

Via Edsurge: “​Blockchain, Bitcoin and the Tokenization of Learning.”

Testing and Measuring

Via Inside Higher Ed: “The Association of American Colleges and Universities on Wednesday announced the creation of the VALUE Institute, which will help colleges ‘leverage learning outcomes evidence to improve student success and ensure quality and equity in student learning.’”

From the HR Department

New York Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña will step down from her position in the new year. [Here is the letter](chools Chancellor Carmen Fariña) she wrote to the department, announcing her retirement.

From the New York Times: “Eric Schmidt to Step Down as Alphabet’s Executive Chairman.”

William H. McRaven is stepping down as chancellor of the University of Texas System.

ProPublica with more news about Facebook and discrimination: “Dozens of Companies Are Using Facebook to Exclude Older Workers From Job Ads.” But yes, please do go on about how personalization will make education “more just.”

The Business of Job Training

Via Wired: “Impatient With Colleges, Employers Design Their Own Courses.”

Contests and Awards

From the MacArthur Foundation press release: “Sesame Workshop & International Rescue Committee Awarded $100 Million for Early Childhood Education of Syrian Refugees.”

This Week in Betteridge’s Law of Headlines

Can sadness be good for reading?asks The Hechinger Report.

(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

The New Media Consortium announced in an email to its members that it would be immediately shutting down. Bryan Alexander, who has worked for and worked closely with the organization, has the most thoughtful coverage. More via Edsurge. (I have been busy with my year-in-review, but I will be updating my Horizon Report “data liberation” project with as much data as I can scrape from the NMC website before it all goes away.)

Via Techcrunch: “Parenting Hero helps parents figure out how to talk to their kids.”

Via Buzzfeed: “Facebook Allowed Sellers To Target Teens With Ads For Penis Keychains.” “Personalized learning,” I believe Zuck calls this.

It’s time, apparently, to move beyond “design thinking.”Systems thinking,” I guess, is the new entrepreneurial “mindset.” Or something.

Via Mindwires Consulting’s Michael Feldstein: “Pearson Open Sources Equella – Properly.”

Also via Michael Feldstein: “Cengage Unlimited Draws the Battle Lines in the Curricular Materials War.”

The New York Times promotes what it thinks are “The Best Toys That Teach Kids How to Code.”

Robots and Other Ed-Tech SF

A collection of stories from Education Week: “Artificial Intelligence, Schooling, & Tomorrow’s Jobs.”

Via NPR: “Hi, Robot: Adults, Children And The Uncanny Valley.”

“A robot called Bina48 has successfully taken a course in the philosophy of love at Notre Dame de Namur University, in California,” Inside Higher Ed reports.

In the UK, “Artificial intelligence school inspections face resistance,” says the BBC. (It’s good to note when people describe things as “algorithmic decision making” and when they blame robots.)

(Venture) Philanthropy and the Business of Ed Reform

Mark Zuckerberg describes the “Lessons in Philanthropy in 2017.” Lots to say about “personalized learning,” but amazingly little reflection on if any of that vision actually works.

Venture Capital and the Business of Ed-Tech

Springboard has raised $9.5 million in Series A funding from Costanoa Ventures, Learn Capital, Jyoti Bansal, Blue Fog Capital,, and Moneta Ventures. The company, formerly known as SlideRule, has raised $11.2 million total. The company helps “learners upskill,” says Edsurge, which did not disclose it shares investors with the company.

Career and college counseling startup Connecpath has raised $150,000 in seed funding from undisclosed investors.

iContracts has acquired the EasyCampus LMS from Educadium.

Privacy, Surveillance, and Information Security

Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “A Brief History of Students Secretly Recording Their Professors.”

Via Inside Higher Ed: “Student blasts Georgia Tech for monitoring his social media accounts, including details about his travel plans and activist work on campus.” More via The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Research, “Research,” and Reports

Here are Edsurge’s calculations for the year of venture capital (in the US): “Fewer Deals, More Money: U.S. Edtech Funding Rebounds With $1.2 Billion in 2017.”

Via EdWeek’s Market Brief: “Top Education Foundations Supporting K–12 Schools Score Record Funding, Report Says.”

Via Inside Higher Ed: “College enrollments in the U.S. decline for a sixth straight year – although at a slower rate – while the bachelor’s degree got more popular.”

“Two newly released academic research papers identify negative consequences linked to states’ performance-based funding formulas,” Inside Higher Ed reports. Of course, the Republicans in Congress will probably still push this idea forward even knowing that it doesn’t work and has unforeseen consequences.

The Chronicle of Higher Education on the latest report from the Babson Survey Research Group on OER adoption: “Use of Free Textbooks Is Rising, but Barriers Remain.” More via Inside Higher Ed.

Icon credits: The Noun Project

Audrey Watters


Hack Education

The History of the Future of Education Technology

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