Education Politics

The NCLB rewrite has made it out of committee on a unanimous vote. Whee.

From the Chicago Tribune: “Federal authorities are investigating Chicago Public Schools CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett and a $20.5 million contract the district awarded on a no-bid basis to a training academy that formerly employed her.” In light of this story and recent concerns over the business dealings of ed-tech VC and CPS board member Deborah Quazzo, it’s pretty great timing for this story from Edsurge: “What Edtech Companies Need to Do To Sell to Chicago Public Schools.”

The European Union is accusing Google of antitrust violations, accusing it of “abusing its dominance in web searches.” More via The New York Times and IHE blogger Tracy Mitrano.

A federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit against the Department of Education filed by student loan debt collectors, who claim that the department unfairly cut ties with them earlier this year. Inside Higher Ed reports that a bill before the Ohio House Finance Committee would “reclassify professors who participate in virtually anything other than teaching and research as supervisors or managers, and therefore exempt from collective bargaining. So serving on a committee, for example, turns a professor into a manager.”

Slate’s Rebecca Schuman excoriates a proposed North Carolina bill that would require all professors at the state’s public universities to teach a 4–4-load.

“The Education Department Is Working On A Process For Forgiving Student Loans,” says Buzzfeed’s Molly Hensley-Clancy. (The loans for students of “troubled colleges,” to be clear.)

Also via Hensley-Clancy (and related to the whole “troubled college” business), “the Department of Education will fine Corinthian Colleges $29.6 million for lying to students at its Heald College chain, citing almost 1,000 examples of defrauding students about job placement rates.”

Rand Paul wants to make college tuition tax-deductible.”

Who’s most excited for Hillary Clinton to replace Obama? Teachers unions.” Ugh.

Education in the Courts

The Atlanta educators recently convicted for their roles in the district’s cheating scandal were sentenced this week. The sentences include up to seven years in prison.

A Virginia judge has rejected a request by alumnae of Sweet Briar College to issue an injunction to prevent the school from moving forward with its plans to close.

Two federal lawsuits have been filed against Dr. Rex L. Mahnensmith, a former professor at Yale Medical School, charging him with sexual harassment.

Testing, Testing…

Nevada schools experienced a computer glitch, halting CCSS testing.

North Dakota schools experienced a computer glitch, halting CCSS testing.

Montana schools experienced a computer glitch, halting CCSS testing. Although it’s now been fixed, the state says districts can continue to opt out of administering the tests because of the problems.

Nearly 15% of New Jersey eleventh graders have opted out of standardized tests this year. Students in New York are also opting out at such a rate that there are concerns the state might not meet the requirement that 95% to take them.

“PARCC and test provider Pearson are trying to trim the time of their Common Core tests by combining the two waves of testing into one,” according to The Plain Dealer. Currently the tests take about 5 hours for math and 5 hours for English.

Pearson is asking the state of California to re-bid a testing contract “potentially worth a quarter of a billion dollars, arguing that a tentative agreement with a rival vendor is misguided, and illegal.”

Privacy and Surveillance

“A 14-year-old Florida boy has been charged with felony computer intrusion after shoulder-surfing his school’s computer network password and using it to play a prank on a teacher,” reports Ars Technica.

An op-ed in the NY Daily News argues that now that NYC has lifted the ban on cellphones in schools, there needs to be a better policy to protect students’ privacy and prevent unreasonable searches of the devices.

Via The Toronto Star: “Toronto’s public school board hid a camera in the office of a principal suspected of misconduct, putting him under surveillance for ‘months’ before a caretaker found the device in a clock, says the Ontario Principals’ Council in an email to all Toronto administrators.”


A bit of an accreditation hiccup in Yale’s plans to offer its Physician Assistant degree online via 2U. In the words of the Yale Daily News: “Online PA Program Proposal Rejected.” “Delayed” might be a more accurate verb.

“MIT Launches Online Education Policy Initiative,” reports Inside Higher Ed, to study “the impacts of online learning on the higher education community from a policy perspective.”

What Harvard Business School Has Learned About Online Collaboration” (That "MOOC-related news still gets headlines" was not included, but we all knew that already.)

Meanwhile on Campus

The faculty at UCLA “approved, by a large margin, a controversial new policy that requires most future undergraduates to take a course on ethnic, cultural, religious or gender diversity,” reports The LA Times.

NPR examines the student-led efforts on college campuses to push for divestment from the fossil fuel industry.

Struggling HBCU Knoxville College is suspending its fall classes in order to reorganize.

Virginia tops nation in sending students to cops, courts,” says The Center for Public Integrity.

“Back in 2010, Education Secretary Arne Duncan called Hurricane Katrina the best thing to happen to public education in New Orleans because it gave reformers a rare chance to reset the entire system.” That’s the lede in Caitlin Emma’s story in Politico: “The New Orleans model: Praised but unproven.”

Read a professor of medicine's outraged tweets from her son's abstinence-only sex ed class.”

LAUSD’s iPads: The Saga Continues

Shocking, I know, but LAUSD is “‘extremely dissatisfied’ with the work of Pearson on its technology initiative.” Local NPR affiliate SCPR reports that the district is asking for a refund from Apple for the Pearson software that came bundled with its massive iPad purchase.

“L.A. schools iPad program subject of inquiry by SEC.” reports The LA Times. But hey, it’s just an “informal inquiry” so nbd.

Go, School Sports Team!

The Denver Post reports that “Bowl games paid more than a half billion dollars to college football conferences and schools last season, the most ever and an increase of almost $200 million from the final season of the Bowl Championship Series to the first of the College Football Playoff.”

Eastern Maine Community College is suspending its athletics program for 2015–2016.

FSU quarterback Jameis Winston is being sued by the woman he allegedly raped in 2012.

“All 3 Oregon Basketball Players Suspended Over Sexual Assault Find New Teams,” reports Inside Higher Ed.

From the HR Department

As part of its deal with the NY State Attorney General, Cooper Union will not renew the contract of its president Jamshed Bharucha.

“Where Are the Teachers of Color?” asks NYT’s Motoko Rich.

Via The New York Times: “About one-third of the migrant construction workers employed at New York University's campus in Abu Dhabi - or about 10,000 people - were excluded from the protections of the university's labor guidelines ensuring fair wages, hours and living conditions.”

Someone Calculated How Many Adjunct Professors Are on Public Assistance, and the Number Is Startling.” (It’s 25%. I saved you a click.)

Meanwhile, according to the AAUP, faculty salaries are up slightly.

Upgrades and Downgrades

McGraw-Hill and Microsoft “embrace open learning,” the Ed-Tech Magazine headline reads. The story contains the phrase “compound learning object,” which when I read it I just knew was going to make David Wiley freak out. Here’s his response, a little history lesson about learning objects (die die die) and the Reusability Paradox.

Google is launching a “Designed for Families” program to help parents find “pre-approved, child-appropriate apps on the Google Play store.” Google’s YouTube Kids promised the same sort of thing, but has recently come under fire for “unfair and deceptive marking.”

From Wired’s Klint Finley: “Internet of Anything: Simple Tools Make It Possible for Anyone to Hack Robots.” The “simple” and “anyone” rhetoric is usually really irksome but a) I like Klint and think he’s one of the smartest tech writers working today so I’ll give him a pass and 2) this story is about Ron Evans, who worked on Hypercard, so nostalgia probably gets the best of me here.

The Library of Congress is looking for people to build educational apps. Congress has earmarked $950,000 for the initiative. Bonus points if someone makes an app that teaches the head of the LOC to use email.

Learn-to-code startup Tynker will be offering classes at some 600 Sylvan Learning locations. Well, there's a business opportunity, I'm sure.

Indian Internet companies are withdrawing from Facebook’s, its organization that claims to help improve access to the Internet Facebook in the developing world. The companies are pulling out in part over concerns over net neutrality and’s corporate partners deciding “who gets access to what and how fast.”

Funding and Acquisitions

Ellucian has acquired Helix Education’s comptency-based education LMS. Here’s Mindwire Consulting’s Phil Hill pragmatic take on the deal: “will it matter?” And via Edsurge, here’s the breathless excitement from the Clayton Christensen Institute’s Michael Horn and Entangled Ventures’ Paul Freedman: “Ellucian’s Acquisition and the New LMS Wars.”

Entangled Ventures (see above and/or see last week’s CHE article on founder Paul Freedman) has raised $2.5 million “from founders and friends.”

Blackboard has acquired Moodle hosting/consulting company Remote Learner UK. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

TES Global has acquired the higher ed job network Unijobs. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

EBSCO has acquired Learning Express. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Sheet music app Tonara has raised $5 million from Baidu, Carmel Ventures, and Lool Ventures. The startup has raised $9.75 million total.

The Flatiron School has raised $9 million from Thrive Capital, CRV, and Matrix. The startup, which offers coding classes in NYC, has raised $14.5 million total.

“Brain training” startup Peak has raised $7 million from Creandum, DN Capital, London Venture Partners, and Qualcomm Ventures. The company has raised $10 million total.

Singapore based VivaLing, which offers online language classes for children, has raised $365,000 from “respected local investors.”

Data and “Research”

Once again, Sherman Alexie’s The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian tops the ALA’s list of the most challenged library books.

Drawing on research from Northwestern University, Mother Jones says “Kids Who Have to Share iPads Learn Better Than Kids Who Have Their Own.” Me, I’ve got lots of questions about the research design and conclusions, but hey, nice headline.

“Tutors aren't just for underachieving kids anymore,” according to Macleans. “They're the new normal.” Considering the story highlights parents who spend $700 to $800 a month on tutoring, I do have questions about who exactly can afford “normal.”

Via Education Week: “Blended Learning Research: The Seven Studies You Need to Know.”

The Chronicle of Higher Education has a summary of the latest Gallup / Lumina Foundation poll on “what people think about college.”

According to the CDC, teens’ use of e-cigarettes now outpaces their use of any other tobacco product. Hooray, technology!

Wikileaks has posted a searchable archive of the hacked Sony documents. I'm only including this in my news roundup because "Harvard" is an interesting search query.

Via Education Week: “Writing in Google Docs Doesn’t Affect Student Test Scores, Early Research Finds.” So ya know, why bother.

Barbara Ericson looks at increasing enrollment in CS programs and asks “Is Computing Just for Men?”

Considering all the new education technology incubators that keep popping up, this headline made me chuckle: “Research Questions Whether Or Not Incubators Help Startups.”

Via Edsurge: “How Edtech Companies Can Invest in the Educations of All Students.” (tl;dr: by privatizating education.)

Audrey Watters


Hack Education

The History of the Future of Education Technology

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