Education Politics

WTF, Wisconsin. First, it was the $300 million slashed from the budget for public higher ed. Now, the state’s Joint Finance Committee voted (12 to 4) to eliminate tenure from state statute. It also moved to limit faculty’s role in shared governance. More coverage from The New York Times and from the Milwaukee-Wisconsin Journal Sentinel.

What Obama’s New Military-Equipment Rules Mean for K–12 School Police.”

Meanwhile in Texas: it’s now okay to carry a concealed weapon on college campuses in the state, thanks to a Senate vote.

Starting next year, parents in Nevada will receive vouchers – about $5000 – that they can use to pay tuition at private or parochial schools if they opt not to send their child to public school.

Washington State Passes Bill Strengthening Computer Science Education.”

Education in the Courts

Four people were arrested for disturbing the peace after cheering for a family member at a high school graduation in Clovis, Mississippi.

Two North Carolina high school students were arrested and are facing felony charges for pulling the ol’ "alarm clock in the locker" prank.

A North Carolina Court of Appeals has ruled that the state’s repeal of its teacher tenure law in 2013 was unconstitutional.

Clovis Unified School District has agreed to allow Christian Titman, who is Native American, to wear an eagle feather to his high school graduation, settling a lawsuit brought by the ACLU.

Via the NSBA’s Legal Clips blog: “Utah Court of Appeals rules that video from school camera was subject to FERPA disclosure restrictions because it was an ‘education record.’

Via Inside Higher Ed: “New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman on Thursday announced a lawsuit against the College Network, an Indiana company. The suit charges that the company duped students in the state into thinking that the College Network had an affiliation with Excelsior College and then selling various services that were in theory designed to help with Excelsior programs. But the services were unrelated to Excelsior, and the College Network’s products did nothing to prepare students for Excelsior exams, the suit says.”

Testing, Testing…

The free SAT test prep website from Khan Academy (built in partnership with the College Board) is now live. There have been lots of predictions that this will “disrupt” the test prep industry and “level the playing field.” Akil Bello, who works in test prep, offers his thoughts.

Starting in 2017, students who take the NAEP – “the nation’s report card” – will be asked questions about their level of grit and their mindset.

11th graders in Connecticut might be able to take the SAT next year instead of the Common Core tests, if a bill that passed the state Senate gets approval in the House.

The Missouri legislature has “directed the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education to sever ties with the test developer, Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium, which provided 17 other states with exams aligned with the Common Core. The provision is part of an appropriations bill that Gov. Jay Nixon signed into law. It eliminates $4.2 million the education department needed to pay Smarter Balanced for next year’s tests.”


Another news tidbit that strengthens my argument that MOOCs are really just the latest in educational TV: A UVA MOOC – “The Kennedy Half Century” – has been nominated for an Emmy.

edX has made it possible for instructors on its platform to add CC licenses to their courses. Open!

A musical interlude: “When the MOOC is Over.”

Google Teams with Udacity to Offer Nanodegrees.” “Thrun sees nanodegrees as key to ed democratization.”

An Increasingly Popular Job Perk: Online Education.” – “A partnership between Southern New Hampshire and Anthem Inc., a health-insurance company, will allow some 55,000 Anthem employees to earn associate or bachelor’s degrees through the university’s College for America, a competency-based assessment program.”

Meanwhile on Campus

Westmont College is scanning its students’ brains to see if they’re learning. I love this quote:

“I was trying to think of something more ridiculous, but I couldn't,” said Robert A. Burton, a neurologist and author of A Skeptic's Guide to the Mind: What Neuroscience Can and Cannot Tell Us About Ourselves.

“The Garden Valley School school district in Idaho purchased four rifles and 2,000 rounds of ammunition to help school officials protect students against potential threats,” says TPM. The school district will post signs warning that its staff is armed.

Evan Young has been blocked by his high school, Twin Peaks Charter Academy High School, from giving a valedictorian speech in which he planned to out himself as gay.

Every Time a Fraternity or Sorority Got in Trouble This Year.”

Carnegie Mellon Reels After Uber Lures Away Researchers.”

“The University of Sydney plans to increase its undergraduate courses from three to four years and cut many of its double degrees in a radical overhaul of education that would see the number of degrees reduced by at least 100,” says The Age. (The university would only offer 22 degrees.)

Billionaire hedge fund manager John Paulson has given $400 million to Harvard. Malcolm Gladwell weighs in, as does “Dean Dad.”

The Cast, Crew and Co-Creator of 'The Big Bang Theory' Endow an Undergraduate Science Scholarship Fund at UCLA.”

Anxious students strain college mental health centers.”

Via Vox: “Why Northwestern investigated a professor for writing an essay about ‘sexual panic.’

Barnard College has decided to admit transgender women.

St Benet’s Hall will admit women, the last Oxford University institution to become co-ed.

“Chegg, the textbook and student services company that has long been a nuisance to physical campus bookstores, will this fall take over and run the textbook center at Bowdoin College,” reports Inside Higher Ed.

What’s next for ECMC after buying some of Corinthian Colleges’ campuses?

It’s 2015 and school districts are still freaking out about teachers interacting with students on social media.

The University of Florida will use Yik Yak to deliver campus news updates.

Via The New York Times: “New York City is installing 21,000 audible door alarms at public schools to prevent another tragedy like the disappearance and death of a student with autism in 2013, education officials said on Thursday.”

In other NYC news: the city’s schools will allow condom demonstrations in class.

In still more NYC news, there’s a new database for parents to use to see their children’s attendance and grades, replacing the ARIS system.

Hal Friedlander, the department’s chief information officer, said on Tuesday that NYC Schools was designed internally for less than $2 million and was expected to cost under $4 million for further development over the next four years. By contrast, ARIS, developed by IBM and a group of subcontractors, cost the Education Department $95 million from 2007 to 2014. Department officials said that only 3 percent of parents used it. Teachers and principals used it more often, but a 2012 audit report by the city comptroller found that nearly half of them had not logged into the system during the previous year.

Via the NY Post: “Former Washington Post Publisher Don Graham has raised $81 million for a college-tuition scholarship program for undocumented immigrant students — and attracted gold-plated donors like Bill Gates, Mike Bloomberg and Bill Ackman to the cause. But Graham has raised some eyebrows by quietly sending 5 percent of the scholarship students to his for-profit Kaplan University schools, The Post has learned exclusively.”

Star Wars Stormtrooper arrested outside of elementary school.”

Go, School Sports Team!

The University of Alabama at Birmingham is bringing back its football program. More details from The Chronicle of Higher Education.

The SEC will no longer allow its member colleges to accept transfer athletes who have a history of domestic or sexual violence.

The NCAA has charged the University of North Carolina with five “Level 1” violations following an investigation that found that some 3000 students – mostly athletes – had participated in fake “paper classes.”

“Ten of the 16 institutions with teams facing National Collegiate Athletic Association penalties this year for the NCAA’s idea of poor academic performance are historically black colleges and universities,” Inside Higher Ed reports.

The US Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights will investigate the University of Iowa’s handling of gender bias complaints against athletic director Gary Barta.

From the HR Department

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel has picked four new members who’ll join the CPS school board. Among those stepping down from board positions: ed-tech investor Deborah Quazzo, “whose financial holdings with companies doing business with the school system have come under scrutiny.”

Elsewhere in the CPS: “Barbara Byrd-Bennett has resigned as chief executive of Chicago Public Schools amid a federal investigation into a $20.5 million no-bid contract.”

James Cibulka, head of the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation, has been dismissed, according to Inside Higher Ed.

“Della Curry was fired by the Cherry Creek School District after she decided to give a few school lunches to students who didn't have any money at the time,” The Root reports.

Florida high school science teacher Dean Liptak has been suspended for using a signal jamming device in his classroom in order to block students from using cellphones.

Interns at the AFT have voted to unionize.

Jim Shelton, former deputy secretary of education, is joining 2U as “Chief Impact Officer.”

Upgrades and Downgrades

Dan Meyer’s dissertation!

Disney unveils Playmation, toys that play back.”

Amazon Debuts A $99 Kindle Bundle For Kids Including An E-Reader, Cover And Warranty.”

“A group representing the seven regional accrediting agencies has developed a common framework for assessing and approving competency-based education programs proposed by their member institutions,” Inside Higher Ed reports.

Introducing Blackboard’s New School Design Language System,” which among other things supports the “emotional needs of learners.” LOL. has new curriculum partners, including Code Studio, ScratchEd, Codeacademy, Amplify Education, Beauty and Joy of Computing, Bootstrap, CodeHS, Globaloria, National Math and Science Initiative, Project Lead the Way, Technology Education And Literacy in Schools, and Tynker.

From Engadget: “Lego’s ‘Minecraft’ competitor is real and ready to download.” The Daily Dot ever-so-helpfully reminds us that Lego Worlds is not a Minecraft killer.

“Raise a Glass,” says Edsurge. “It's Now Possible to Become a Thiel Fellow and Legally Drink.” That is, those 22 and under can now apply for the $100,000 fellowship.

The University of Guelph has trademarked “OpenEd” – because, ya know, “open.” Brian Lamb and Clint Lalonde respond.

Funding and Acquisitions

Udemy has raised $65 million for its marketplace of classes. Investors in this round were Stripes Group, Upwork (the company formerly known as Elance-oDesk),, Pond5, Norwest Venture Partners, and Insight Venture Partners. Udemy has raised $113 million total.

Orbotix, maker of the programmable robot Sphero, has raised $45 million from Mercato Partners, Disney, and Foundry Group. The company has raised $92.2 million total.

Applect Learning Systems has raised $4 million from Info Edge. The test prep company has raised $5.6 million total.

CareDox has raised $900,000 from undisclosed investors. The company, which offers a database to store students’ health records, has raised $4.9 million total.

Oxford University Press has acquired Epigeum for “£10.7 million,” says EducationInvestor.

“Investors Rethink EdTech As Dealflow Declines,” says Techcrunch. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Data, Privacy, and Surveillance

Via The Washington Post: “People's Daily Online wrote that authorities in central China's Luoyang City are using drones during the administration of university entrance exams, gaokao. The score on this exam, usually given in June, is the only measure that most Chinese institutions of higher education use to admit students.”

Parent argues that it’s totally okay to surveil your child online.

Via the BBC: “Schools are being offered new software that helps teachers spy on pupils’ potentially extremist online activity. It alerts teachers if pupils use specific terrorism-related terms or phrases or visit extremist websites on school computers, laptops or tablets.”

Via the Orlando Sentinel: “What Orange County students – and staff – post on social media sites such as Twitter, Facebook and YouTube is now being monitored by their school district to ‘ensure safe school operations.’”

Data and “Research”

“Large-Scale, Government-Supported Educational Tablet Initiatives” (PDF)

A report from Education Week on “life after special education” details, among other things, the graduation rates for students with disabilities.

Via Politico: “A new report from the Center for Community Alternatives finds that nearly 75 percent of colleges and universities collect high school disciplinary information, and the overwhelming majority consider those records in deciding which students to admit.”

An Edsurge op-ed by Nick Sheltrown, VP of analytics at a charter school management company: “Dear Education Data Geeks: Stop Obsessing Over Subgroup Analyses.”

Also via Edsurge: “Do Learning Management Systems Actually Improve K–12 Outcomes?

Can Text Messages and Interventions Nudge Students Through School?” asks HarvardX researcher Justin Reich.

“For the Poor, the Graduation Gap Is Even Wider Than the Enrollment Gap,” writes Susan Dynarski in The New York Times.

A study by the Campaign for College Opportunity calls for the end to the ban on race-based admissions to California’s universities.

Via The Atlantic: “A startling number of Chinese students are getting kicked out of American colleges. According to a white paper published by WholeRen, a Pittsburgh-based consultancy, an estimated 8,000 students from China were expelled from universities and colleges across the United States in 2013–4. The vast majority of these students – around 80 percent – were removed due to cheating or failing their classes.”

Students at Theodore Roosevelt High School have conducted their own research into the LAUSD district’s iPad debaucle.

The Michael LaCour saga continues. (He’s the UCLA graduate student accused of falsifying the results of a study on same-sex marriage.) Some research is retracted, and The New York Times is on it.

Audrey Watters


Hack Education

The History of the Future of Education Technology

Back to Archives