Education Politics

Former US Secretary of Education has joined the Emerson Collective, a venture philanthropy firm run by Laurene Powell Jobs. In his new role as managing partner, according to The LA Times, “Duncan will be looking for ways to help ‘disconnected youth,’ ages 17 to 24, who aren't in school and don’t have jobs. Many have criminal records and haven't graduated from high school.” The Emerson Collective is an investor in Udacity and AltSchool and helped buy Amplify from News Corp.

In other US Secretary of Education news, John King has been confirmed in that role.

Via the BBC: “Every school to become an academy, ministers to announce.” That’s every school in England. And becoming an academy means the end to local control.

The Department of Education is “Getting Ready for Another Corinthian,” says Inside Higher Ed. “Education Department may soon tell more colleges to set aside money to cover federal loan discharges and other costs in case institutions collapse or become financially strapped.”

Meanwhile… “After years of pressure from consumer advocates and some congressional Democrats, the Obama administration is considering banning or restricting mandatory arbitration agreements at colleges and universities that receive federal funding.” More via The Chronicle of Higher Education.

“160 Private Colleges Fail Education Dept.’s Financial-Responsibility Test,” according to The Chronicle of Higher Education.

Via the AP: "The Education Department is removing a law firm hired to oversee the turnaround of schools owned by Corinthian Colleges Inc., a for-profit education company whose financial collapse had placed at risk more than $1 billion in federal student loans.

Via Inside Higher Ed: “The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs suspended DeVry University's participation in a voluntary Obama administration program aimed at highlighting colleges that are friendly to veterans. The VA suspended DeVry as an institution meeting the ‘principles of excellence’ outlined in a 2012 executive order. The agency cited the Federal Trade Commission's lawsuit in January that accused DeVry of misleading students about their employment prospects.”

Via the Courier-Journal: “All students who graduate from Kentucky high schools, home schools or obtain their GEDs in Kentucky will be able to attend community colleges for free under a bill that passed the Kentucky House of Representatives on Thursday.”

Via the AP: “A bill that would require transgender students to use bathrooms that match their sex at birth is gaining momentum in the Tennessee legislature after passing in a House subcommittee.”

Via “Gaps in Cleveland schools’ $500,000 E-Rate investigation baffle watchdog panel.” Baffling!

Via the Hechinger Report: “A bill that would allow teachers in low-performing school districts to grade parental involvement on student report cards has passed the Mississippi House, but it now includes a controversial amendment that would also require daily homework, instruction in cursive writing, and a professional dress code for teachers in those schools.” Gee, that sounds super awesome and and not at all discriminatory, Mississippi.

I have to admit that as a Wyoming native who has seen the boom and bust cycle over and over in her lifetime, I’m really struck that it’s “news” again that minerals industry-dependent communities struggle once the minerals industry revenue dries up. Anyway, there’s a funding crisis in Wyoming and Alaska and The 74, NPR, and The New York Times are on it.

As FCC Auction Looms, Colleges Consider the Value of Their Airwaves.”

From the presidential campaign beat: “Charter school scandal haunts John Kasich.” “There’s a big problem with Bernie Sanders’s free college plan.”

Trump, Trump, Trump

Here’s a student-made video about Donald Trump’s canceled rally at UIC.

Via Inside Higher Ed: “Two Northwestern University freshmen are facing charges that they spray-painted slurs against gay people and black people, a swastika and the name ‘Trump’ in a nondenominational chapel at the university.”

Via The LA Times: “Woman wants out of lawsuit against Trump University, but Trump’s lawyers say no.”

Education in the Courts

President Obama has nominated Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court, but for those keeping track at home “Garland has not written major opinions on higher education law,” Inside Higher Ed reports. “He has, however, played a role in several decisions of importance to academe. Just last week, he was on a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia that rejected a challenge by for-profit colleges of the U.S. Department of Education’s gainful employment rule.”

Via the Chicago Tribune: “Chicago school board seeks $65 million in lawsuit against ex-CEO.”

Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “A federal judge in New York on Friday dismissed a lawsuit against Columbia University by Paul Nungesser, a former student who was accused of rape in a high-profile case that drew national attention.”

The CFPB announced that it had “requested that a federal district court enter a final judgment and order that would shut down a student debt relief scheme that charged borrowers millions of dollars in illegal upfront fees for federal student loan services. If approved by the court, the proposed judgment would ban the company, Student Loan Processing.US, and its sole owner, James Krause, from any future involvement in debt relief and student loan services. The order would also require the company to pay refunds to thousands of harmed consumers and a civil money penalty.”

Testing, Testing…

SHOCKING I KNOW but “The New SAT Won’t Close the Achievement Gap.”

From Jesse Hagopian: “Six Reasons Why the Revolt Against Standardized Testing Is Good for Students and Parents of Color.”

Via the AP: “Nevada won’t face any federal penalties following its Common Core testing meltdown last year that left most students in the state unable to finish their annual mandated exam. The U.S. Department of Education on Friday gave Nevada a rare exemption from the federal mandate requiring at least 95 percent of students to participate in an annual statewide test.” More via Education Week about other states that struggled with administering assessments.

MOOCs and UnMOOCs (a.k.a. Online Education)

You can now watch courses when you’re on a Virgin America flight. The future is so bright…

Via the press release: “University of the People (UoPeople) Launches Worlds First Tuition-free, Accredited Online MBA.”

Meanwhile on Campus

Newark School Officials Knew of Lead Risks, 2014 Memo Shows.”

Via The Gothamist: “Free Tampons Are Coming To 25 NYC Public Schools.”

Pearson will handle the marketing, recruiting, and student services for Cincinnati State Technical and Community College. “It’s a unique and first-of-its-kind type of partnership for Pearson,” says Inside Higher Ed. Whee.

Library Access vs. Library Security.”

Via Boing Boing: “First-ever Tor node in a Canadian library.”

Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “The Mental and Academic Costs of Campus Activism.”

Via NPR: “Campus Food Pantries For Hungry Students On The Rise.”

Inside Higher Ed reports on a new group called the Intentional Endowments Network, a “group of 77 institutions is coming together in an effort to invest their money more ethically. The goal is to use their endowments to support environmental and social causes – without sacrificing their own financial returns.”

“Colorado State U Launches Online ‘Boot Camp’ Style Comp Sci Programs,” says Campus Technology.

NPR’s Anya Kamenetz looks at the “turmoil” at P-TECH.

On the heels of criticism of UC Davis’ chancellor being on the board of Devry, folks are now noting that the University of Arizona’s president sits on it as well.

Via The Guardian: “UC Berkeley investigates 26 more cases of sexual misconduct amid scandal.”


Numerous organizations are vying to become accreditors-of-sorts for new coding bootcamps. These include student loan providers. So, what could go wrong?!

Via Inside Higher Ed: “The majority of community college presidents in California voted yesterday to pull the colleges away from the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges, while also working to reform the agency.”

Go, School Sports Team!

Via the Eugene Weekly: “Dominic Artis and Damyean Dotson are following in the footsteps of fellow former Oregon basketball player Brandon Austin by suing the University of Oregon over rape allegations, according to a press release from Eugene attorney Brian Michaels who says he is local counsel for a New York firm. Artis and Dotson are alleging they faced discrimination as males and are suing for more than $9 million each, making the lawsuit come to more than $20 million.”

“Yale Sexual Misconduct Expulsion Threatens to Ruin March Madness, Sports Forever,” threatens Jezebel. F.O.R.E.V.E.R….

Via the San Jose Mercury News: “Cal basketball coach Cuonzo Martin’s role in sexual harassment scandal under review.” More from The LA Times.

Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “Disparities in Coaches’ Academic Incentives Raise Concerns Over Gender Equity.”

Via The New York Times: “Young black men playing basketball and football for the country’s top college teams are graduating at lower rates than black male students at the same schools – despite having financial and academic support that removes common hurdles preventing many undergraduates from earning a degree, a new report has found.”

Via the Dallas Morning News: “Frisco Centennial assistant coach told black players he would ‘hang them from a tree by their toes’.”

Via Inside Higher Ed: “U of North Florida will pay $1.25 million to a former women’s basketball coach who said the university discriminated against female athletes and coaches.”

From the HR Department

Venture capitalist Michael Goguen has been fired by Sequoia Capital following “allegations that he kept a ‘sexual slave’ for 13 years.” (Sequoia Capital’s education investments include Yik Yak although, to be fair, Goguen was not involved in that specific transaction and did not sit on its board.)

Via The Boston Globe: “The former president of Bridgewater State University, under fire for a lucrative retirement package, has agreed to give up a $100,000 annual consulting contract with the university, state officials said Thursday.”

Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “Eastern Illinois Lays Off 177 Employees as Budget Crisis Drags On.”

“The chairman of the Board of Trustees at Mount St. Mary's University has stepped down, seven months before the end of his term,” reports The Chronicle of Higher Education.

Also via The Chronicle: “U. of Missouri Rejects Melissa Click’s Appeal of Her Firing.”

The Digital Reader reports that “Andrew Savikas Departs Safari Books Online Amidst ‘Massive’ Layoffs.”

Upgrades and Downgrades

“Will this new ‘socially assistive robot’ from MIT Media Lab (or its progeny) replace teachers?” asks the Kurzweil AI Network newsletter.

Sony PlayStation VR Will Cost $399 When It Arrives in October.”

Elsewhere in VR: “Fun (and Some Nausea) with the First Games for the Oculus Rift Headset.”

“Blackboard and Moodle Now BFFs,” says Mindwire Consulting’s Michael Feldstein. And also on the LMS front, his partner Phil Hill observes that “Wheaton College Selects Schoology As New LMS In Surprise Decision.”

Ohio will shut down its Distance Learning Clearinghouse.

Via The New York Times: “HarperCollins will offer a discount on its trade paperback of Harper Lee’s 1960 classic ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ through retail accounts that sell directly to schools. The announcement came days after the news broke that the cheaper, mass-market paperback edition, which is popular in schools, would be discontinued next month, apparently in accordance with the wishes of Ms. Lee, who died in February at age 89.”

There’s been lots of hullaballoo about artificial intelligence over the last few weeks because of the defeat of Lee Sedol, champion Go player, by Google’s AI system AlphaGo. It’s probably worth noting that elements of AI – machine learning, natural language processing, expert systems – are already all around us. So when NPR says “What Artificial Intelligence Could Mean For Education,” we shouldn’t just look at Pearson’s future-casting. We can look at what we already are doing, heck, just with Google alone.

Candy Makers Pledge to Stop Targeting Kids With Advertising.” Suuuuure.

“Koov is Sony’s answer to Lego Mindstorms,” says Engadget.

A Palestinian teacher, Hanan Al Hroub, has won the $1 million Global Teaching Prize.

More thoughts on ed-tech procurement, from George Kroner and from EdWeek’s Market Brief.

In other (possible) ed-tech-related trends for 2016, here are a couple of reports from CB Insights: “From Pre-Employment Testing To On-Demand Jobs: 10 Early-Stage HR Tech Startups.” And “The Rise Of Fintech Mega-Rounds: $50M+ Deals Spike in 2015.”

(Still More) Dispatches from SXSWedu

The write-ups of SXSWedu continue. “Race, hands-on learning, new SAT, tech pricing some of SXSWedu 2016’s hot topics,” according to The Hechinger Report. Here’s The Chronicle of Higher Education’s takeaways. Tim Klapdor has written about all his days spent at the event, but Day 3 was pretty special.

Funding and Acquisitions

“Learn to code” company Revature has raised $20 million in a Series A round from University Ventures, Eden Capital, and USA Funds.

Credly has raised $2.5 million in seed funding from University Ventures, New Markets Venture Partners, Lumina Foundation Venture Fund, City & Guild Group, and Lion Brothers Company.

The tutoring company Flipclass has raised $1 million round of funding from Blume Ventures and S. Chand and Co. The startup has now raised $1.25 million total.

Fullstack Academy has acquired Chicago-based coding bootcamp The Starter League (the startup formerly known as Code Academy. No. Not Codecademy.) Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Inside Higher Ed reports that for-profit higher ed company Laureate Education has “reached an agreement with Eurazeo, a European investment company, to sell Glion Institute of Higher Education and Les Roches International School of Hotel Management for $384 million.”

Edsurge follows up on reports that Intel Capital, Intel’s venture capital unit, is up for sale.

Not willing to let the Broad Foundation corner the market on training school administrators, the “Wallace Foundation to invest $47 million in redesigning principal preparation,” says The Washington Post.

Data, Privacy, and Surveillance

“How Minecraft undermined my digital defences,” by the BBC’s Mark Ward. (A pretty important read on security and privacy for parents/users of Minecraft.) admitted that a vulnerability on its website meant that volunteer email addresses were compromised. Ooops. Everyone should learn to infosec.

Via Inside Higher Ed: “Faculty members at Texas university raise questions about whether they are being monitored after administrators show up in their course rosters.” That is, faculty at Our Lady of the Lake University found that administrators were adding themselves to courses on Blackboard.

Do social media security alert programs protect or invade?” Sigh.

Data and “Research”

Via The New York Times: “Black students are four times as likely to be suspended from charter schools as white students, according to a new analysis of federal education data. And students with disabilities, the study found, are suspended two to three times the rate of nondisabled students in charter schools.” (Related: “The Black Girl Pushout” by Melinda D. Anderson.)

Via Inside Higher Ed: “American college students are less likely to die on study abroad programs than on their home campuses, according to a new analysis of insurance claims published by the Forum on Education Abroad.”

Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “A Scholar’s Sting of Education Conferences Stirs a Hornet’s Nest.”

The US Department of Education has released its Quarterly Student Aid Report, “a collection of key performance data on the federal student loan portfolio, revealing continued increases in income-driven repayment enrollment with notable decreases in defaults and delinquencies.”

Via Inside Higher Ed: “New paper argues that colleges can’t afford to improve the pay and working conditions of those off the tenure track. Activists slam the analysis.” The paper was published in the Journal of Business Ethics – lolsob.

Via Education Dive: “Sexual harassment in K–12 schools a pervasive problem. Some studies say as many as 4 out of 5 American children and teens are sexually harassed at school.”

Study: people who believe in innate intelligence overestimate their own.”

Via the NIH: “Smartphone ”personal assistants“ like Siri and Google Now can send your messages, make dinner reservations or give you a stock market update. But they may let you down during a crisis, a new study finds. When researchers looked at how the programs responded to statements such as ‘I was raped,’ or ‘I’m being abused,’ they found that the answers often fell far short.”

Via New York Magazine: “For 80 Years, Young Americans Have Been Getting More Anxious and Depressed, and No One Is Quite Sure Why.”

According to research from UNC and Duke, “Girls Likelier to Major in Science Field if High School Had Women STEM Teachers.”

USC professor Morgan Polikoff writes about his research on textbook adoption: “Textbooks are important, but states and districts aren’t systematically tracking them.”

According to a press release published by McGraw-Hill, “McGraw-Hill Education Study Shows Significant Improvement in Student Outcomes through Adaptive Technology.”

Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “Study Finds Growing Debt-Related Stress Among Law Students.”

Via Buzzfeed: “Why Even Wealthy Black Students Have More Student Loan Debt.”

Children should learn mainly through play until age of eight, says Lego.”

Via Mindshift: “Studies done in several countries including Iceland, Canada, Israel, Sweden and Taiwan show children who are at the young end of their grade cohort are more likely to get an ADHD diagnosis than their older classmates.”

Via Education Week: “Ed tech can help students develop critical social and emotional skills and character traits, but the market for such tools is currently underdeveloped, according to a new report from the World Economic Forum and the Boston Consulting Group.” Grit-as-a-service.

Also via Education Week: “The results of a two-year study on the National Writing Project, a teacher professional-development program with nearly 200 sites around the country, show that the program had a positive impact on both teachers’ instructional practice and student writing.”

The latest from the Humanities Indicator Service shows an 8.7% decline in degrees awarded in the humanities between 2012 and 2014.

Via Inside Higher Ed: “Colleges and universities should embrace a new financial model in which campus financial data are linked to student outcomes information and shared much more transparently with key campus constituencies, a new report from the American Council on Education and the TIAA-CREF Institute argues”

“Is Scientific Publishing About to Be Disrupted?” The Chronicle of Higher Education asks before offering “ASAPbio, Briefly Explained.”

“Is Academic Research in the U.K. About to Die Off?” asks The Pacific Standard.

Icon credits: The Noun Project

Audrey Watters


Hack Education

The History of the Future of Education Technology

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