torches are coming

Education Law and Politics

Former CNN and NBC news anchor Campbell Brown is leading a group that filed a lawsuit in New York this week to challenge teacher tenure rules in the state. (The Shanker Institute’s Matthew Di Carlo has a good look at some of the “research” being cited by the group, Partnership for Educational Justice, as rationale for ending tenure.)

The Louisiana Board of Elementary and Secondary Education is suing Governor Bobby Jindal over steps he’s taking to sever ties with Common Core-related vendors. Jindal filed a countersuit because that’s how we roll in America.

Senators Edward Markey and Orinn Hatch have introduced the Protecting Student Privacy Act which will offer an update to FERPA (one that doesn’t seem to address any aspects of the law that make it such a horrible mess. It doesn’t address, for example, the changing meaning of “educational record” and it doesn’t address the “death penalty” provisions, which tie privacy violations to the loss of all federal funding).

Abigail Fisher, who sued the University of Texas for denying her admission, is appealing the recent ruling of the 5th Circuit Court that upheld UT’s affirmative action program.

Senator Dick Durbin has sponsored the Adjunct Faculty Loan Fairness Act, which would make contingent instructors eligible for student loan forgiveness.

Tennessee’s Department of Education “is moving toward standards that would reinvigorate the teaching of cursive handwriting.”

The American Institutes for Research says it is appealing a recent decision that okayed the awarding of the major PARCC testing contract to Pearson, a process that AIR claims was unfair.

Missouri Governor Jay Nixon has signed a bill extending existing privacy laws for library records to include materials related to e-books, streaming video, and downloadable audiobooks. More via School Library Journal.

A Senate report finds that for-profit colleges are increasingly targeting military veterans. Buzzfeed’s Molly Hensley-Clancy writes, “Overall enrollment in for-profit colleges has been in steep decline since 2009. In that same time frame, the report says, veteran enrollment at the country’s largest for-profit colleges has ‘dramatically increased,’ with almost a third of veterans using GI Bill funding now attending for-profit colleges, up from 23% in 2009.”

In order to stop cheating, the Air Force dropped grading as part of the examination procedures for its nuclear officers. And yay, but let’s drop nukes too. Thanks in advance.


“Reports of MOOCs’ demise have been greatly exaggerated,” writes Craig Weidemann, vice provost for online education at Penn State. Clearly, because people are still writing stories with bullshit headlines like “Will Free Online Courses Ever Replace a College Education?

What 6.9 million clicks tell us about how to fix online education” (the “us” here is MIT’s AI Lab): things like we need to make “‘YouTube for MOOCs’ that seeks to reinvent how online learners watch videos.”

“Can You Really Teach a MOOC in a Refugee Camp?” asks The Chronicle of Higher Education. (I wrote about ed-tech and refugee education this week on EML too. Paywalled, sorry.)

Telefonica and Banco Santander are launching a Spanish-language MOOC platform, MiriadaX.

Thank goodness for the innovation of MOOCs because, according to edX’s Anant Agarwal, "“The last time we gave teachers a new tool was 1862: a piece of chalk and a chalkboard.”

“Inspired by Khan Academy,” Kim Gordon, Yoko Ono, Courtney Love, and others are launching an online art school for girls: the School for Doodle.

Meanwhile on Campus

School puts nearly 100 kindergartners in one class in a teaching experiment.” Guess the city. Guess the socioeconomic class of the children. Guess their race. Go ahead.

A rupture in a water main outside of UCLA shot water 30 feet into the air and released between 8 and 10 million gallons of water into the area. But NBD because it’s not like there’s a drought here in California or anything.

Big-name VCs, others tagged to weigh changes to UC investment policy.” What could possibly go wrong.

In the next phase of the ongoing battles over its future, City College of San Francisco has applied to have its accreditation status restored.

The New York Times looks at “Second Chance Med School”(s) in the Caribbean.

This story from the Hoboken School District of its plans to destroy, yes destroy, all its laptops from its “failed” 1:1 laptop program details an amazing amount of administrative incompetence. And this line, from the district’s network engineer, makes me furious: “There is no more determined hacker, so to speak, than a 12-year-old who has a computer.”

Meet The Sexual Assault Adviser Top U.S. Colleges Have On Speed Dial.”

What are schools doing about e-cigarettes?

Shootings Redefine Beat of School Police Officer

Pacific Standard has a good round-up of various publications’ recommendations of where you should go to college.

Go, School Sports Team!

“The National Collegiate Athletics Association will establish a $70 million fund for testing and diagnosing concussions in current and former college athletes,” reports Inside Higher Ed. But the fund will not pay for treatment. Assholes.

From the HR Department

Pearson said that it will have cut a total of 4000 jobs (about 10% of its workforce) over the last two years, as it reported a sales declines of 6.5% in the first half of 2014.

Jonathan Waters, the director of the Ohio State University Marching Band was fired after an investigation that found he'd ignored a "sexualized culture" of hazing rituals.

University of Warwick professor Thomas Docherty could lose his job after being charged with insubordination because, among other things, “he sighed and made ‘ironic’ comments when interviewing job candidates.” Reason #213523 why I’d never have made it in academia.

Tim Torkildson says he was fired as the blogger for the Nomen Global Language Center after writing a post on homophones. The owner of the business feared the post would associate the company with homosexuality.

Navy Admiral William McRaven will become the next chancellor of the University of Texas system when he retires from the military later this year. McRaven was the head of SOCOM and planned the Navy Seal raid that killed Osama bin Laden.

Education futurist and consultant Bryan Alexander is joining the New Media Consortium as a senior researcher.

Chester E. Finn, Jr. steps down today as head of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute. (Michael Petrilli will become the new president of the conservative think tank.)

Upgrades and Downgrades

Another cool interactive math lesson from Dan Meyer, Christopher Danielson, and Desmos: Central Park.

Happy 9th birthday to Edublogs.

The messaging app Remind [101] is now available to teachers outside the US and Canada.

“The results of the bar exam won’t be available for months, but it’s already painfully clear who failed this year: ExamSoft. The management platform suffered severe technical difficulties Tuesday that prevented thousands of students from uploading their exams upon completion.” Ouch.

The learn-to-program startup LearnStreet informed its users via email that it planned to close its doors on July 31 (although the site still looks functional).

MIT Media Lab has released the ScratchJr iPad app. ScratchJr is a version of the Scratch programming language, but aimed at younger children.

Pearson is partnering with the learn-to-program site Programmr to offer Web-based CS lessons, with titles like “Teach Yourself jQuery and Javascript in 24 Hours.” Sounds legit.

Scholastic is closing its eStoria bookstore and switching to a streaming model. On the company website: “With the launch of Storia School Edition on September 1, Scholastic will transition to a streaming model for children’s eBook delivery. The switch to streaming means that eBooks you’ve previously purchased may soon no longer be accessible.” A reminder that you often don’t “own” your digital stuff; you merely license it. (h/t The Digital Reader)

Via its initiative, Facebook is launching an app to offer free Internet to Zambians. Or “Internet,” I should say, as it’s only access to handful of sites including, duh, Facebook.

Funding and Acquisitions

Blendspace (formerly Edcanvas) has been acquired by TES Global (which recently acquired Wikispaces).

IAC-owned has acquired the test prep company Princeton Review.

Sifteo, maker of learn-to-program “cubes,” has been acquired by 3D Robotics.

Sibling Group Holdings has acquired Blended Schools Network.

Qualcomm has acquired LMS provider EmpoweredU.

The Indian e-commerce company Flipkart has raised $1 billion in investment, and Edukwest suggests that the company will make a move into the e-learning market.

The test-prep company Wanxue has raised a Series C found of funding from the Chinese search engine Baidu, HAO Capital, and Doll Capital Management.

Taamkru has raised $620,000 in seed funding from 500 Startups, M&S Partners, IMJ Investment Partners, Ookbee, and Red Dot Ventures, reports Edsurge, which describes the startup as offering “gamified educational exercises for kindergarten children.”

ABA English has raised $3.4 million in seed funding for its English language learning lessons.


Some 31 million people enrolled in college during the last 20 years left without earning a degree. And via the chart-loving Vox: “7 charts that show what happened to 31 million American college dropouts.”

Back-to-school gets spendier: “The cost of equipping K–12 public school students for the 2014–2015 school year has jumped as much as 20 percent, one of the largest year-over-year increases in the eight-year history of the annual Huntington Backpack Index.”

“Fourth graders are capable of using a computer to type, organize, and write well enough to be assessed, according to a pilot study released July 24 by the National Center for Education Statistics. However, whether the results of a computer-based test offer a true measure of students’ writing abilities has yet to be determined,” reports EdWeek. “The End of Paper-and-Pencil Exams?” asks The Atlantic.


Congratulations to my friend Chris Lehmann, one of the recipients of this year’s Harold W. McGraw Jr. Prize in Education. (The other recipients: Sara Martinez Tucker and Andreas Schleicher.)

Image credits: guendal and The Noun Project

Audrey Watters


Hack Education

The History of the Future of Education Technology

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