Each week, I gather a wide variety of links to education and education technology articles. All this feeds the review I write each December on the stories we are told about the future of education.

(National) Education Politics

Via The Hill: “Betsy DeVos’s $40 million yacht set adrift by vandals.” Don’t worry. Her nine other yachts were unharmed.

More on the Trump Administration’s plans to eliminate the “gainful employment” rules for for-profit higher ed in the for-profit higher ed section below.

More on the Trump Administration’s plans to make it harder for students defrauded by for-profit colleges to get their loans forgiven in the financial aid section below.

Conservative High Schoolers Want to ‘Own the Libs’,” The Atlantic’s Adam Harris reports from the Turning Point USA’s conference. Among the speakers: Betsy DeVos and Peter Thiel.

Via Wired: “Congress Has a $65 Million Proposal to Study Tech’s Effect on Kids.”

Via The Guardian: “The great academy schools scandal.” (Academy schools in England are somewhat similar to charter schools in the US – publicly funded by not locally controlled.)

(State and Local) Education Politics

More about Florida’s plans to prevent school shootings – which, surprise surprise have nothing to do with gun control – down in the surveillance section below.

Via Chalkbeat: “Just like their parents, Chicago students will soon have to learn cursive.”

Via The Oregonian: “With toxic lead out, Portland Public Schools plans to turn on drinking fountains.”

News out of LAUSD is in the courts section below.

There’s a profile of NYC schools head Richard Carranza down in the Betteridge’s Law of Headlines section below.

Immigration and Education

Via ProPublica: “Why Russian Spies Really Like American Universities.”

Education in the Courts

Via The LA Times: “L.A. school board’s Ref Rodriguez pleads guilty to conspiracy and resigns.”

Via The New York Post: “The founder and president of a for-profit Brooklyn college tasked his employees with steering attractive young women to his office – ‘so he could proposition them for sex,’ according to a new sexual harassment lawsuit.” The school in question: ASA College.

Via them: “Trans Students in Bathrooms Don’t Violate Anyone’s Privacy, A Federal Court Says.” More via the AP.

Via “Former PA Cyber CEO Nick Trombetta gets 20 months in prison for tax fraud.” That is the former CEO of the Pennsylvania Cyber Charter School.

Via The New York Times: “Brock Turner Wanted Only ‘Outercourse,’ Lawyer Argues in Appeal.” My god, that guy.

Via Wired: “Users Sue Juul for Addicting Them to Nicotine.” (Juul is an e-cigarette that markets its product to teens and peddles social emotional learning content.)

An update on Mark Janus of Janus v. AFSCME Council 31 fame in the “labor and management” section below.

“Free College”

Via MarketWatch: “20,000 preschool teachers just got offered a free education.” That is, the daycare company Bright Horizons will pay for its employees to get their degrees at four institutions – three of which are for-profits (including Ashford University and Walden University, which have been targets of lawsuits claiming they misled students).

The Business of Financial Aid

Via Inside Higher Ed: “The U.S. Department of Education on Wednesday unveiled a proposed overhaul of a federal rule on student loan forgiveness, with a plan to possibly make the process more restrictive for defrauded borrowers.” More via The Chronicle of Higher Education.

The “New” For-Profit Higher Ed

Via The New York Times: “DeVos to Eliminate Rules Aimed at Abuses by For-Profit Colleges.”

More on the Trump Administration’s plans to make it harder for students defrauded by for-profit colleges to get their loans forgiven in the financial aid section above.

There’s more for-profit related news in the “free college” section above and in the “courts” section above.

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

Via Edsurge: “Coursera’s First Ivy League Degree: An Online Master’s From the University of Pennsylvania.” (Not mentioned: Penn was one of the very first investors in Coursera.)

There’s more MOOC news from Edsurge in the “job training” section below.

Via The Economist: “Universities withstood MOOCs but risk being outwitted by OPMs.”

Via “National e-school figure to test new approach to online learning here in Ohio.” That figure is K12 Inc founder Ron Packard.

Meanwhile on Campus…

Via The Guardian: “The free speech panic: how the right concocted a crisis.”

Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “What Is Academic Freedom? Statement That Alarmed Professors at U. of Texas Sets Off Debate.”

Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “There’s a New Scholarly Take on Mizzou’s Race Crisis, and Its Former Leaders Don’t Fare Well.”

Via Campus Technology: “Columbia U Opens Research Center Devoted to Blockchain Tech.”

Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “Paul Quinn, Lauded for Its Work-College Model, Will Open a Second Campus.”

Coleman University will close, IHE reports.


Two testing-related stories appear in the Betteridge’s Law of Headlines section below.

Go, School Sports Team!

Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “More Than 100 Ohio State Alumni Allege Abuse by Former University Sports Doctor.”

Labor and Management

An update, via The Chicago Sun-Times, on Mark Janus, who just won his anti-union court case before the Supreme Court: “Mark Janus quits state job for conservative think tank gig after landmark ruling.”

Via Chalkbeat: “New documents show what KIPP told Mike Feinberg leading up to his firing.”

Via Bloomberg: “Inside Google’s Shadow Workforce.” Just make a note of this for the next time you hear someone tout how great the hiring process and work environment are at Google.

The Business of Job Training

Via Edsurge: “How Udacity Decides What Subjects To Offer Courses In (And Why It Isn’t Doing New University Partnerships).”

The New York Times Magazine has an incredible profile of Gwyneth Paltrow’s “Goop” empire. Why is this in the job training section of the Hack Education Weekly News, you ask? Because her cousin is the founder of WeWork, and I’m keeping track of how all this “wellness” and mindset snake oil is shaping the future of education and work, kids.

Contests and Awards

Village Capital’s ongoing social entrepreneurship programs is like a friendlier – and perhaps more impactful – version of Survivor,” says Edsurge. So, it’s like some sort of imperialist fantasy that provides a feeding ground for a culture of “fake news”? Sounds amazing.

This Week in Betteridge’s Law of Headlines

Can We Make Non-Racist Face Recognition?asks Gizmodo.

Can Richard Carranza Integrate the Most Segregated School System in the Country?asks The Atlantic.

Can a $49 English Test Pass Muster?asks Inside Higher Ed.

Can We Save AP World History?asks Pacific Standard.

Are Universities Training Socially Minded Programmers?asks The Atlantic.

Was It Ethical for Dropbox to Share Customer Data with Scientists?asks Wired.

(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

“An open letter to Mark Zuckerberg: our child died at** Sandy Hook** – why let Facebook lies hurt us even more?” – this, in The Guardian – was written by the parents of Noah Pozner.

Via The Atlantic: “Teens Are Debating the News on Instagram.”

IBM Watson Reportedly Recommended Cancer Treatments That Were ‘Unsafe and Incorrect’,” says Gizmodo. Good thing IBM Watson isn’t making any claims about “personalized learning” or partnering with beloved shows like Sesame Street. Oh. Wait. Shiiiiit.

Via the CBC: “Sesame Street to enter U.S. classrooms in new deal with McGraw-Hill Education.” More via the AP.

“The RISE Package for R: Reducing Time Through the OER Continuous Improvement Cycle” by Lumen Learning’s David Wiley.

Blackboard’s Debt Grows While Canvas Gains Contracts,” says ELearning Inside News.

Via Edscoop: “YouTube’s latest initiative aims to foster educational content.”

Via Techcrunch: “SuperAwesome now offers kids brands an alternative to YouTube.” Or, SuperAwesome has launched an app that features kid-friendly video content with a ton of advertising.

Via the Google blog: “What’s happening next for G Suite Enterprise for Education.” Among the updates: “Now, institutions with data location requirements can choose where to store primary data for select G Suite apps.” It’s not clear what counts as “primary data” from the marketing copy.

Via The Verge: “Kano tries to make learning code magical with its new Harry Potter Coding kit.”

Via Inside Higher Ed: “Forbes has pulled an essay by a professor that advocated that Amazon stores replace public libraries and thus save the taxpayers money. Librarians and library supporters responded by saying that the article was ill informed and didn’t reflect the many roles libraries play.” I can’t believe we have to repeatedly engage with these unworthy ideas. It’s one of the terrible things about the Internet, quite frankly. It’s a dumb idea. Don’t link to it. Ignore it. Talking about it expands that overton window, if nothing else. And it feeds the clickbait machine at Forbes.

Via Motherboard: “This VR Founder Wants to Gamify Empathy to Reduce Racial Bias.” You cannot hear me screaming as I type this bullshit up. But know that I am screaming.

From the Oculus Rift marketplace: “Teacher’s Lens Beta is an Oculus Launch Pad winning project that strives to mitigate unconscious bias in classroom education.” S.c.r.e.a.m.i.n.g.

Robots and Other Education Science Fiction

Via Quartz: “How AI could transform the way we measure kids’ intelligence.”

IHE blogger Joshua Kim predicts there is “1 technology, 2 futures” as he writes aboutRobot Burger Makers and Adaptive Learning Platforms.”

(Venture) Philanthropy and the Business of Education Reform

Via The Wall Street Journal: “Charles Koch Foundation to Publish Future University Grant Agreements.”

Edsurge says it’s received $1.45 million in grant funding from the Gates Foundation and the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative to write about personalized learning and other specific topics but also claims it has “sole editorial control over all the content” which seems pretty contradictory to me.

Among the sponsored content on Edsurge this week paid for by the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative is this on data science and gym class and this on the “science of learning.”

(Related, from CJR: "We need a new model for tech journalism.)

Via Education Week: “Gates Foundation Gives $2.2M to For-Profit Company Tackling School Schedules.” The company: Abl Schools.

Venture Capital and the Business of Education

Guild Education has raised $40 million from Bessemer Venture Partners, Redpoint, Silicon Valley Bank, Felicis Ventures, Salesforce Ventures, Harrison Metal, Cowboy Ventures, Rethink Education, and Workday Ventures. The company, which helps other companies offer employee education benefits, has raised $71.5 million total.

Skillshare has raised $28 million from Union Square Ventures, Burda Principal Investments, Amasia, and Spero Ventures. The online education company has raised $50.8 million.

RaiseMe has raised $15 million from Teamworthy Ventures, the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, Salesforce Ventures, and Strada Education Network. The financial aid company has raised $31.5 million total.

Preply has raised $4 million from Point Nine Capital, RTAventures VC, Diligent Capital Partners, SMRK, Mariusz Gralewski, Arthur Kosten, and Przemyslaw Gacek. The tutoring company has raised $5.6 million total.

ACT has acquired the National Research Center for College and University Admissions.

Data, Surveillance, and Information Security

Via Education Week: “To Stop School Shootings, Fla. Will Merge Government Data, Social Media Posts.”

Via The Outline: “Tracking devices are required in this French high school.” The BBC writes that “French school in row over tracking pupils electronically.” The tracking device comes from a French startup called NewSchool.

Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “Temple U. Says Several Programs Submitted False Data to ‘U.S. News’.”

“Who Gets Access to Data About D.C.’s Public Schools?” asks Rachel Cohen in the Washington City Paper.

Wired on the surveillance product that just won’t die: “Google Glass Is Back – Now with Artificial Intelligence.”

Via Ars Technica: “Amazon’s Rekognition messes up, matches 28 lawmakers to mugshots.” More on the facial recognition fail via The New York Times.

“Internal Review Finds Portland State University Researchers Broke Federal Law,” Willamette Week reports. “The university now concedes the project did not have proper authorization to use the data from public school classrooms.”

Venmo Is the Best Place to Stalk Your Children” is a completely fucked up headline – thanks Bloomberg.

Also stalking you and your children, retail stores. That’s according to Chain Store Age which claims that “Location data could improve back-to-school campaigns.”

Via Medianama: “Personal and academic data of millions of Indian students is up for sale online.”

What Happens in the Classroom No Longer Stays in the Classroom. What Does That Mean for Teaching?” asks The Chronicle of Higher Education.

Research, “Research,” and Reports

“Your Tweets Are Somehow Worthy Of Scientific Study,” FiveThirtyEight marvels. (See also: the story in the Betteridge’s Law of Headlines section above about a study based on Dropbox usage.)

Via Inside Higher Ed: “New study shows that splitting attention between lecture and cellphone or laptop use hinders long-term retention, and those in class suffer from others’ use of devices.” Prepare for many “takes” on why this study is right and/or wrong and justifies the authors’ tech policies in their classrooms.

Via Motherboard: “Two Researchers Challenged a Scientific Study About Violent Video Games – and Took a Hit for Being Right.”

Via Inside Higher Ed: “A new study by Morning Consult for Cengage, an educational technology and services company, asked 1,651 current and former college students how purchasing textbooks figures into their financial picture. Forty-one percent of those students said that textbooks and other course materials had ‘somewhat of an impact’ on their financial situation, and 46 percent said that it had ‘a big impact.’”

According to the World Bank (as written up by EdWeek’s Market Brief), “The Cost of Not Educating Girls: $30 Trillion.”

Via Education Week: “Pearson Studies Seek to Shine Light on Cyber Charter Student Mobility.”

Private Schools Are Becoming More Elite,” says The Atlantic, with a look at the decline in enrollment in Catholic schools.

Via Inside Higher Ed: “Private college closures have risen to a rate of about 11 per year, and the rate at which campuses are shut down is expected to increase in the future, according to a new report published by Moody’s Investors Service Tuesday.”

Ed Yong on “An Enormous Study of the Genes Related to Staying in School.” (I could link to lots more coverage of this, most of it pretty bad. When in doubt about a major scientific study, read Ed.)

Genetics, big data science, and postgenomic education researchby Ben Williamson. “Why We Shouldn’t Embrace the Genetics of Educationby John Warner. And the obligatory NYT op-ed: “Why Progressives Should Embrace the Genetics of Education.” Of course, let’s remember that education progressives have long been supporters of eugenics.

Icon credits: The Noun Project

Audrey Watters


Hack Education

The History of the Future of Education Technology

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