Hack Education Weekly News

(National) Education Politics

Listen, folks (particularly educators). If you’re going to decry “fake news,” then you best not be sharing it. If you’re going to talk about the importance of digital literacy or information literacy or media literacy or what have you, then you best practice it. Did you share this Raw Story story – “Education officials expect ‘ineffective’ Betsy DeVos to step down as her agenda collapses: report” – or this Salon story – “Expert: Expect DeVos to resign from Trump administration”? Why? Did you read the Politico profile of Betsy DeVos that these (and many other) pieces of clickbait were based on? Did you see evidence in that well-reported story that a resignation was imminent? Or did you just want a story to confirm your gut feelings that she should hit the road? Because, see, that’s part of the whole problem. It’s not just that these stories get written. It’s that folks share them so quickly and uncritically. Anyway, as Matt Barnum writes, “No, there’s no reason to think DeVos is planning to resign, contrary to viral news stories.”

The American Oversight notes that “DeVos Calendars Show Frequent Days Off.” (In fairness, I’m not sure what the typical work-week looks like for a Secretary of Education.)

Via The Washington Post: "Betsy DeVos lauds innovative teaching practices at awards ceremony.“ From the article that ”innovative teaching practice" appears to be project-based learning.

Via Education Week: “Trump Nominee for Career-Tech Position Being Pulled Due to Offensive Blog Posts.” That’s Tim Kelly, a Michigan state representative who Trump had nominated head the office of career, technical, and adult education at the Department of Education. More via Politico.

Via Inside Higher Ed: “Frank Brogan, the chancellor of the Pennsylvania State University System from 2013 until retiring this year, has joined the Department of Education in the Office of Planning, Evaluation and Policy Development – likely ahead of a nomination to a separate position.”

Reactions to the Congressional tax cut proposalVia Education Week: “Five Things to Know About the $250 Tax Break That Teachers Could Lose.” The CATO Institute doesn’t like 529 plans for K–12. “Graduate students and higher education experts warn** GOP plan to tax tuition waivers** would be disastrous to both students’ finances and institutions’ teaching and research missions,” says Inside Higher Ed.

The Senate Republications introduced their tax cut bill. The Washington Post reports that “Senate Republicans would leave student loan interest tax deduction untouched.” More on the tax reform proposal in IHE.

The Trump Administration says it will reinstate some of the sanctions on Cuba that Obama rolled back. Inside Higher Ed says that “Experts expect new regulations on travel to Cuba published in the Federal Register to have limited effect on educational travel to the nation.”

Via Inside Higher Ed: “Representative Ron DeSantis introduced a bill Tuesday that would allow states to set up a parallel accrediting system to direct federal student aid money to a range of career training programs.”

Via Wired: “Al Franken Just Gave the Speech Big Tech Has Been Dreading.”

“Behind Randi Weingarten’s secret meeting with Steve Bannonby Mike Klonsky.

The George W. Bush Presidential Center calls “accountability “a dirty word in education.”

Via The New York Times: “A toxic cloud has descended on India’s capital, delaying flights and trains, causing coughs, headaches and even highway pileups, and prompting Indian officials on Wednesday to take the unprecedented step of closing 4,000 schools for nearly a week.”

Via Inside Higher Ed: “E.U. Data-Protection Law Looms.”

(State and Local) Education Politics

Via Mother Jones: “Voters in This Colorado County Just Sent Betsy DeVos a Helluva Message.” The message: “The election of seven anti-voucher candidates to Douglas County’s school board means a likely end to its controversial school choice program.”

Chalkbeat has a round-up of all education-related results in Colorado. The 74 has results from Colorado and beyond, calling Tuesday “a blow to Republicans.”

Via The Intercept: “Puerto Ricans Fear Schools Will Be Privatized in the Wake of Hurricane Maria.”

Via NOLA.com: “Florida school lets parents buy bulletproof panels for students to put in backpacks.”

Via The News & Observer: “New charter school for more than 2,000 students is coming to Cary.” It would be one of the largest in North Carolina.

Via KPCC: “Charter schools, LAUSD reach deal to end ‘game of chicken’ that jeopardized schools’ futures.” Also via KPCC: “How LAUSD oversees charter schools just changed in a big way.”

Via Chalkbeat: “As a major provider of Head Start exits the program, hundreds of vulnerable Detroit families brace for change.”

Via Inside Higher Ed: “A student loan bill of rights will be going into effect in Illinois after the state’s House of Representatives voted Tuesday night to override a veto by Governor Bruce Rauner.”

Via Education Week: “The New York City Council is considering a requirement that all city agencies publish the source code behind algorithms they use to target services to city residents, raising the specter of significant changes in how the country’s largest school district assigns students to high school, evaluates teachers, and buys instructional software.”

Via The 74: “Illinois Lawmakers Override Their Governor on Cursive, Say All Students Will Benefit From Handwriting Instruction.”

Via The Voice of San Diego: “‘A Tax on Poor People’: San Diego Unified Sends Parents Who Can’t Pay for School Bus Rides to a Collections Agency.”

Via the AP: “Iowa City schools to stop using padded seclusion rooms.”

Via The Chicago Tribune: “Aldermen vote 48–1 for new police academy despite Chance the Rapper’s speech.” A $95 million police academy in a city that keeps closing down K–12 schools and firing teachers.

Via the AP: “The Homeless Defy Stereotypes in Wealthy Silicon Valley.”

Via The Post Gazette: “New Pittsburgh teachers contract could phase out performance pay.”

Via In These Times: “When Unions Lead Education Reform.”

Via Chalkbeat: “Battling closure, Harlem charter school enlisted a high-profile PR firm that once repped Ivanka Trump.” Networks. They matter.

The Nation’s Megan Erickson on Success Academy’s Eva Moskowitz.

Immigration and Education

Via Feministing: “Two Months After Trump Withdrew DACA, This Is Where the Program Stands.”

Via Inside Higher Ed: “Princeton University and Microsoft have joined together to file a lawsuit against President Trump’s rescinding of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. A DACA-protected student at Princeton, Maria De La Cruz Perales Sanchez, is also listed as a plaintiff.”

The New York Times with some fearmongering aboutThe Disappearing American Grad Student.” The article is accompanied by a photo of a classroom full of Asian students – as if Asian is not American.

Education in the Courts

Via the BBC: “Police investigate 17 child sexting cases a day.”

More legal wrangling about DACA in the immigration section above.

The Paradise Papers

The Paradise Papers – “The new files come from two offshore services firms as well as from 19 corporate registries maintained by governments in jurisdictions that serve as waystations in the global shadow economy.”

Via The New York Times: “Kremlin Cash Behind Billionaire’s Twitter and Facebook Investments.”

Via The Guardian: “Russia funded Facebook and Twitter investments through Kushner associate.”

For those keeping track of how ed-tech is intertwined in all this, here’s a list of Yuri Milner’s education investments: 17zuoye, Remind, Coursera, Clever, Codecademy, ClassDojo, and General Assembly. And more generally, via Crunchbase: “These Are The US Startups That Russian Investors Are Backing.”

Via The New York Times: “After a Tax Crackdown, Apple Found a New Shelter for Its Profits.”

Via The New York Times: “Endowments Boom as Colleges Bury Earnings Overseas.” As I noted on Twitter, this is what happens when you tell schools they should be run like a business.

Via The Guardian: “Paradise Papers: Oxford and Cambridge invested tens of millions offshore.”

“Free College”

Via The Tennessean: “Most Tennessee high school students apply for Tennessee Promise program.”

Via Bklyner.com: “Brooklyn Public Library and Bard College to Offer Free College Degree Programs in 2018.”

The Business of Student Loans

Via Inside Higher Ed: “Trump administration will ask negotiators of borrower-defense rule to reconsider institutions’ liability for claims of misrepresentation – a request that has some worried DeVos plans to let bad programs off the hook.”

The “New” For-Profit Higher Ed

Via Inside Higher Ed: “The long wind-down of Corinthian Colleges continued Wednesday with the planned closure of all but three of the remaining campuses that the defunct for-profit chain formerly owned.” More via Buzzfeed.

“In a move that wouldn’t have been allowed a generation ago, a for-profit medical school is relocating from Dominica to Tennessee as its campus undergoes repairs from damage caused by Hurricane Maria,” says Inside Higher Ed. “Other for-profit medical schools are already operating in the U.S.”

Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “Which Colleges Do Students Say Defraud Them Most Often? For-Profit Colleges.”

Online Education and the Once and Future “MOOC”

“How Much Hollywood Glitz Should Colleges Use in Their Online Courses?” asks Edsurge.

Speaking of Hollywood Glitz, Variety reports that “Kevin Spacey’s Online Acting Course Pulled by MasterClass.” MasterClass has raised some $56 million for celebrity-led classes. Awkward.

Via The 74: “Inside the $1 Million Fight to Hold South Carolina’s For-Profit Virtual Charter Schools Accountable.”

Via Education Week: “For Online Schools, Unique Challenges in Serving Transgender Students.”

“Whatever happened to the promise of online learning?” asks WonkHE.

“How can online learning help Canadian colleges meet the challenges ahead?” asks Tony Bates.

More on online education research in the research section below. And there’s some human resources news in the HR section below too.

Meanwhile on Campus…

Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “2 Flagship Universities Surveyed the Campus Climate. Here’s What They Found.” Via The Cap: “Survey: Politically conservative students feel safe, respected and at home at UW-Madison.” But keep writing those op-eds about how ostracized conservative students are.

Amy Silverman writes in The Phoenix New Times about ASU’s decision not to approve a disability studies major.

Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “Oxford Professor Is on Leave Amid Allegations of Sexual Assault.” That’s Tariq Ramadan, a professor of contemporary Islamic studies.

“A Refuge for Jae-in Doe: Fugues in the Key of English Major” by Seo-Young Chu. In the essay, Chu accuses Jay Fliegelman, a Stanford literature professor, of rape and harassment.

And another, different Stanford literature professor too has been accused of sexual assault: Franco Moretti.

Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “Signs Naming Students Accused of Sexual Assault Reopen Wounds at Atlanta Colleges.”

Purdue president “Mitch Daniels is shaking up higher education,” says Education Dive.

Via NPR: “Air Force Academy Cadet Wrote Slur Outside His Own Door, School Says.”

In a response to protests at Reed College, The Atlantic argues “Why Everyone Should Learn About Western Civilization.”

Related I predict the canon wars are going to be revived, particularly as education reformers turn to “curriculum” as their new focus. See also, this via The New York Times: “Why Arthur Schlesinger’s ‘Disuniting of America’ Lives On.”

Via Inside Higher Ed: “Florida State University has banned fraternities and sororities following the death of a student, its president announced Monday.”

Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “In Reversal, Notre Dame Will Continue to Cover Contraception for Employees.”

Via Inside Higher Ed: “Syllabus at Duke barred staffers of campus paper from class on hedge funds.”

Another Duke story – The Chronicle of Higher Education looks at the school’s Technology Scholars Project: “Steering More Women to Silicon Valley.”

And news from a well-known former Duke student:

What does college look like in prison?” asks The Hechinger Report.

Via The Washington Post: “ Students’ grades determine where they may eat lunch at Florida schools.”

Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “To Help Combat Racism, Kansas State U. Will Cancel Classes (for 2 Hours).”

“Activists leading protests at UNC-Chapel Hill about Silent Sam have identified and outed a campus police officer who went undercover in an apparent effort to keep tabs on what they were up to,” The Herald Sun reports.

Via The NYT: “N.Y.U. Will Waive Tuition for Displaced Puerto Rican Students.”

More NYU news – via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “NYU Faculty Members Shun Abu Dhabi Campus Over Academic-Freedom Issues.”

St. Gregory’s University says it will close its doors.

Accreditations and Certifications and Competencies

Via Getting Smart: “Competency-Based Micro-credentials are Transforming Professional Learning.” Are they?

Rasmussen College is expanding its CBE program, Campus Technology reports.

Testing, Testing…

Via The Hechinger Report: “Known for its intense testing pressure, top-performing South Korea dials it back.”

Go, School Sports Team!

The Ringer profiles Brenda Tracy and her work to end college football’s rape culture.

Via The Wall Street Journal: “Coming Soon to Campus: The $100,000 Hotel Room.” To the Texas A&M campus, to be precise – just 96 feet away from the football stadium.

Via Inside Higher Ed: “The proportion of athletes in the National Collegiate Athletic Association’s top competitive division who graduated within six years of enrolling rose to 87 percent (by the NCAA’s count) this year, continuing what has been a consistent increase since the association altered its approach to academic performance 15 years ago.”

From the HR Department

Shernaz Daver, Udacity’s chief marketing officer, is leaving the company.

The Business of Job Training

Via Edsurge: “​How Apple, Salesforce and Other ‘Platform’ Companies Can Help Close the Skills Gap.”

Salesforce will start selling its online learning platform, which has helped its own employees change roles and get promotions,” says MIT Technology Review, going with the wonderful lie in the headline “Making Job-Training Software People Actually Want to Use.”

This Week in Betteridge’s Law of Headlines

Are Big Tech Companies Doing Right by America’s Students?asks MIT Technology Review.

Does ‘The Mooch’ Belong on Tufts Advisory Board?asks Inside Higher Ed.

Can a Mathematical Model Detect Fake News?asks Edsurge.

(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

“How Silicon Valley Plans to Conquer the Classroom” by The New York Times’ Natasha Singer – through some pretty shady practices, no doubt.

(Education Next suggests, as part of its “behind the headlines” takes, an article by Curriculum Associates’ Rob Waldron," How To Avoid Getting Ripped Off by Ed-Tech Vendors.” Waldron’s company is featured in Singer’s story and not in a very good light. More Curriculum Associates news in the VC section below, incidentally.)

“Something is wrong on the internet,” says James Bridle. Via The New York Times: “On YouTube Kids, Startling Videos Slip Past Filters.” YouTube now says it has a “new policy” to flag this content. (Nice timing to promote “picting” in the classroom.)

Maybe social media is broken, Cathy O’Neil suggests. And maybe educators will rationalize using it anyway…

Google’s Mass-Shooting Misinformation Problem” by The Atlantic’s Alexis Madrigal.

Media Literacy When the Platforms Are Complicitby Bill Fitzgerald.

Teaching Tolerance is out with its own “Digital Literacy Framework.”

Facebook will teach the unemployed digital/social media skills in 30 cities,” says Techcrunch. Facebook breaks democracy and then turns around and sells you the fix. Clever.

In other Facebook news, “Facebook’s testing a new method to prevent revenge porn that requires uploading your nudes,” says Techcrunch.

Via the BBC: “Facebook’s fake news experiment backfires.”

Via Newsweek: “Meet Naomi Wu, Target of an American Tech Bro Witchhunt.” Maker CEO Dale Dougherty is accused of harassing Wu online “alleging that she’s only a model who serves as the face of engineering projects completed by a team of men.”

Via Techcrunch: “How littleBits grew from side project to Star Wars.”

Via EdWeek’s Market Brief: “Follett to Start Selling LEGO Education Materials for Hands-On Lessons.”

Inside Higher Ed looks atinclusive access,” which is a very misleading way of saying you’re forcing everyone to buy the course materials or digital textbooks thru a fee tacked on to tuition. Publishers love this, of course.

“It’s Time For A Deeper Conversation About How Schools Use Technology,” says KQED Mindshift.

Via Edsurge: “Educators Question AltSchool’s Pivot: Where Does Silicon Valley’s Philanthropy End and Profits Begin?” Two educators, at least, had questions for Edsurge.

One tech industry CEO’s vision of revolutionizing schools withers, and another is there to take its place. This week, it’s WeWork, which recently acquired the troubled coding bootcamp Flatiron School. Bloomberg reports that “WeWork Is Launching a Grade School for Budding Entrepreneurs.” “In my book, there’s no reason why children in elementary schools can’t be launching their own businesses,” [says founder] Rebekah Neumann. Except maybe child labor laws. IP concerns. Ethics. A commercial-free childhood. Never one to shy away from promoting the techno-dystopia, Fast Company weighs in: “WeWork Founder Hopes Her New School Will Help 5-Year-Olds Pursue Their Life’s Purpose.” (This seems closely related to Ivanka Trump’s notion that 5 year olds need to learn to code so they can get a job. Good thing no one in the current administration actually advocates child labor. OH WAIT.)

Via Business Insider: “An MIT psychologist explains why so many tech moguls send their kids to anti-tech schools.” That’s Sherry Turkle.

“Why Moodle Supporters Should be Concerned,” according to Mindwires Consulting’s Michael Feldstein. And from Phil Hill: “A Note on Data Used for LMS Market Analysis.” Also by Feldstein: “How and Why the IMS Failed with LTI 2.0.”

Via Times Higher Education: “Scholars launch non-profit rival to ResearchGate and Academia.edu.” It’s called ScholarlyHub, and I’d tell you more about it but like ResearchGate and Academia.edu, there’s a paywall that prevents me from reading the Times Higher Education article.

“Inventor creates device to help fidgety kids learn better,” the AP reports. The device is called “Bouncy Bands.” It’s been featured on Dr. Oz so it must work.

Tech is making ed more inclusive, accessible to students with special needs,” says Education Dive. I’m not quire sure this is true, as I’m working on my year-in-review series and see a lot of stories about how tech exacerbates inequalities and excludes those with disabilities.

As I’m working on that series, I can see how certain “trends” in ed-tech are being carefully cultivated by ed-tech companies and the ed-tech press. One of those “trends” is surely “character development” (a.k.a. “grit” a.k.a. “mindsets” a.k.a. “social and emotional learning.”) The CEO of Schoolrunner writes in Education Week’s Market Brief, for example, that “Science of Character Development Initiative to Help Students Achieve Goals.” The 74 says that “There’s Lots of Social-Emotional Support for Students, but Not for Teachers. Here Are Some Programs Looking to Change That.” Getting Smart review The Flexible SEL Classroom. Via Education Dive: “Principals support SEL efforts, but want more teacher training.” Oh and there’s fundraising news on this topic too via Edsurge – that’s in the VC section below.

It’s not “social emotional learning,” but it’s… something. “What is Agentic Learning and Why is it Important?” asks Getting Smart. Via The 74: “25 Years, 1 Million Kids. How Expeditionary Deeper Learning Engages Students Through Inquiry, Discovery & Creativity.”

Education Week has published a new report on personalized learning. Among the articles, “The Case(s) Against Personalized Learning.” (Warning: I’m cited.)

“The path to personalized learning is not straight,” says The Hechinger Report.

The latest Have You Heard podcast episode: “What We Talk About When We Talk About the Corporate Education Agenda.”

“As Corporate World Moves Toward Curated ‘Microlearning,’ Higher Ed Must Adapt,” says Edsurge.

Via Techcrunch: “Apple’s ‘Everyone Can Code’ initiative expands to colleges and universities outside of the US.”

Via Education Dive: “Tech for ELL students can bridge content and digital learning gaps.”

Networked U.’s: This Is What Will Save Higher Ed,” says Jeff Selingo.

“Mapping the open education landscapeby Martin Weller, Viv Rolfe, and Katy Jordan. See also: “Openness & Education – a Beginner’s Guide.”

Edsurge talks with former LAUSD superintendent John Deasy, who’s now the editor-in-chief for a new publication run by Frontline Education, a K–12 software company.

I’m just including this because I think the headline underscores how some in technology think that technology adoption is simply a matter of tech and not of other social, cultural, economic forces: “A Mind-Bending Cryptographic Trick Promises to Take Blockchains Mainstream.”

The idea that Sean Parker is a “conscientious objector” to social media is fucking hilarious. But anyway…

Robots and Other Ed-Tech SF

The Next Web says “This smartphone app is like an AI chastity belt for teens.” No. Just. No.

Via the Observatory of Educational Innovation: “Can you predict your students’ final grade at the start of the course? Yes, you can with Artificial Intelligence.” Sigh.

Via MIT Technology Review: “Andrew Ng Wants a New ‘New Deal’ to Combat Job Automation.” That is, he wants the federal government to invest in retraining workers.

What will universities look like in 2030?asks Times Higher Education. Something something robots something something.

Via Edsurge: “Who Controls AI in Higher Ed, And Why It Matters (Part 1).”

(Venture) Philanthropy and the Business of Ed Reform

NewSchools Venture Fund has announced the startups in its “early learning cohort”: AppleTree Institute for Education Innovation, Brightwheel, CodeSpark, Cognitive ToyBox, Family Engagement Lab, Kaymbu, Learning Genie, Mawi Learning, MIND Research Institute, Sparkler, Peekapak, Reasoning Mind, Teachley, Waterford Institute, and WriteReader. These companies get $1.5 million in grant funding.

Venture Capital and the Business of Ed-Tech

Panorama Education has raised $16 million from the Emerson Collective, Spark Capital, Owl Ventures, SoftTechVC, and the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative. Once upon a time, this was a school survey company but it now markets itself as a social emotional learning company. That seems to have worked with investors – it’s raised $32 million total.

Tutoring company Acadsoc has raised $15 million from Shenzhen Capital Group and IDG Capital Partners.

Ink has raised $7 million from VTF Capital, Invest Nebraska, SQN Venture Partners, and NE Angels. The printing station company markets itself to colleges and has raised $13.65 million total.

Language learning tutoring startup PandaTree has raised $1.5 million from Michael Dearing and Randy Ching.

Montessorium has raised $1 million from Bluestem Capital, SD Angel Funds, Falls Angel Fund, Two Bridges Capital, Kampeska Capital, and SDSU/Brookings Angel Fund. The app maker has raised $2 million total.

Once upon a time, Musical.ly was an ed-tech startup. Then it opted to become a “viral sensation.” Now it “is being sold for between $800 million and $1 billion to Bytedance, the company that controls the Chinese news aggregator Toutiao,” The New York Times reports.

Curriculum Associates has acquired Motion Math.

Via EdWeek’s Market Brief: “New Venture Capital Firm Bullish on Future of Europe’s Ed-Tech Market.” I mean, I guess you’d have to be to start a new ed-tech venture capital firm, right?

Privacy, Surveillance, and Information Security

Jade E. Davis writes in DML Central on “The Importance of Student Privacy in Big Data.”

“High School Safety Includes Protecting Teens’ Datasays US News & World Report.

Via The Hans India: “District Education Officers asked to ensure 100% biometric attendance in schools.”

Via KSN.com: “Derby schools computer software could track cyber bullying, suicide threats.” What could possibly go wrong in Kansas.

Via NBC Connecticut: “Newtown Among 800 School Sites Attacked By Hackers.”

Via Naked Security: “Student charged by FBI for hacking his grades more than 90 times.” 90. Times.

Via The Guardian: “Big Brother isn’t just watching: workplace surveillance can track your every move.”

Research, “Research,” and Reports

Via The Hechinger Report: “How preschool teachers feel about science matters, new research finds.”

Via The Washington Post: “Hate at school: 90-plus ‘poisonous’ incidents reported on K–12 campuses in October.”

“A Nation of Snowflakes” – Inside Higher Ed on a new survey on campus free speech.

Via Inside Higher Ed: “President of higher ed research group documents white dominance in the academy and urges scholars to use their work to help disenfranchised people.” That’s Shaun Harper, a professor at USC and executive director of the university’s Race and Equity Center

Via Inside Higher Ed: “Study finds male Ph.D. candidates submit and publish papers at much higher rates than women, even at the same institution. One factor is that women teach more during their Ph.D. programs and men serve more often as research assistants.”

A report from the Shanker Institute: “Public and Private School Segregation in the District of Columbia.”

The 74 on a research brief from the American Institutes for Research: “The Hidden Mental Health Crisis in America’s Schools: Millions of Kids Not Receiving Services They Need.”

Poverty Is Largely Invisible Among College Students,” writes Sara Goldrick-Rab.

Via Inside Higher Ed: “Private colleges and universities are expected to grow tuition revenue faster than public institutions in 2018, breaking from recent trends, according to an annual survey of colleges rated by Moody’s Investors Service.”

Via The Hechinger Report: “Federal data shows 3.9 million students dropped out of college with debt in 2015 and 2016.”

Via UNESCO’s World Education Blog: “The Partnership Schools for Liberia: A critical analysis.”

The Chronicle of Higher Education on “Why Faculty Members Still Aren’t Sure What to Make of Education Technology.” Bonus points for the Educause researcher who described this stance on ed-tech as “some very weird doublethink.” Perhaps the dangers actually lie with those who believe that nuanced views of technology are somehow problematic.

Via Inside Higher Ed: “Oregon State University Ecampus has created a database compiling research on the efficacy of online learning. The Online Learning Efficacy Research Database, which launched this week, is a searchable resource of academic studies that was created in response to skepticism about online education.”

Campus Technology writes up the results of a poll from McGraw-Hill that claims “More Than Half of Students Want Their Classes to Go Digital.”

Via NPR: “Free Books Boost Early Literacy.”

It’s not directly related to ed-tech, sure, but damn ed-tech sure does love this stuff so I’m including it here anyway. Via The New York Times: “Don’t Nudge Me: The Limits of Behavioral Economics in Medicine.”

From Harvard’s Shorenstein Center: “Information Disorder: Toward an interdisciplinary framework for research and policymaking.”

Here’s Forbes with some “fake news”: “Millennials And Their Kids: Why They’re Choosing DIY Education.” (n=2)

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Hack Education Weekly News

(National) Education Politics

“The Education of Betsy DeVos” – a profile of the Secretary of Education in Politico Magazine.

Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “DeVos Falsely Suggests That Student Loans Were Federalized to Pay for Obamacare.”

An op-ed in The New York Times by Gail Collins: “No Profit in Betsy DeVos.”

Via Buzzfeed: “Betsy DeVos May Only Partially Forgive Loans Of Students Ripped Off By Fraudulent Colleges.”

Via The New York Times: “Betsy DeVos’s Schedule Shows Focus on Religious and Nontraditional Schools.”

Via The LA Times: “Betsy DeVos’ Halloween costume is not going over well.” She was Ms. Frizzle, the teacher in “The Magic School Bus.”

Via Education Week: “Trump Moves to Fill Key Civil Rights Post.” That’s Kenneth Marcus, the Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law, who if confirmed would become the assistant secretary for civil rights at the U.S. Department of Education. (Politico runs the number on the steps Trump has taken to fill openings at the Department of Education.)

Via The Washington Post: “DeVos offers buyouts to shrink Education Department workforce.”

Via The Detroit News: “Husband’s donations cloud Betsy DeVos’ pledge.” That is, Betsy DeVos said during her confirmation hearings that she and her husband would suspend their political contributions while she worked for Trump. Of course, Dick DeVos also works for Trump in a way – or at least, he’s now on an FAA civilian panel. Swampy.

The Department of Education rescinds more regulations and subregulatory guidance.

Via The Intercept: “Steve Bannon Tried to Recruit Teachers Union to Trump’s Agenda While in the White House.” I mean, one in five AFT members did vote for Trump after all.

The Republicans in Congress unveiled their tax plan this week, with big cuts in corporate taxes. Education-related changes include the end to the student loan interest deduction and the imposition of a 1.4% tax on some college endowments at private universities. Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “Republican Tax Proposal Gets Failing Grade From Higher-Ed Groups.”

From ACE, one the largest higher ed lobbying organizations: “Statement by ACE President Ted Mitchell on the House Tax Reform Proposal.” tl;dr: He doesn’t like it. (Mitchell was the Under Secretary of Education under Obama and the head of NewSchools Venture Fund before taking on this role at ACE.)

The Department of Education announced some $95 million in grants for “education innovation and research.” It’s always interesting to see which stories like this get picked up by the tech press. Via Techcrunch: “Palo Alto nonprofit Benetech wins a $42.5M Dept. of Education grant, a nod to founder Jim Fruchterman’s quest to help the blind.”

Via The New York Times: “Navy Orders New Training After Deadly Ship Collisions.” Apparently watching CD-ROMs isn’t sufficient training for driving Navy destroyers. Who’d have guessed?!

Lots of details this week as tech executives testified in front of Congress about Russian interference in the 2016 election. Meanwhile, as The New York Times reports: “Facebook, Under Fire in Russia Inquiry, Posts 79% Rise in Profit.”

“Shadowy ‘Professor’ Is at the Center of the Latest Revelation in the Trump-Russia Probe,” says The Chronicle of Higher Education with the higher ed angle on this week’s indictments.

Via Alternet: “Gavin Grimm Wants To Fix The Education System That Failed Him.”

“Who’s Afraid of Title IX?” asks Anne McClintock in The Jacobin.

(State and Local) Education Politics

Via The 74: “Amid Hurricane’s Devastation, Puerto Rico’s Education Secretary Sees an Opportunity for Reform.” When you hear someone invoke New Orleans and Hurricane Katrina as a model, do remember what happened to all the Black teachers

Via the AP: “Philadelphia moves to retake control of city school system.”

Via The Oregonian: “Attorney who served as top Portland Public Schools lawyer during troubled year out.” That’s Stephanie Harper, who as the story notes, who “made high-profile legal calls that came under fire. They included a failed bid to keep secret investigation records about gym teacher Mitch Whitehurst, who was the subject of many sexual misconduct complaints; the choice to sue a parent and a journalist who filed another open records request; and the district lost a $1 million jury verdict on her watch.”

Immigration and Education

Via Pacific Standard: “Trump Calls for End of Immigration Lottery Program After Terror Attack.”

Education in the Courts

Via The New York Times: “Hartford Student Charged After Boasting About Contaminating Roommate’s Belongings.” White student. Black roommate. Racism kills.

Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “3 Dartmouth Professors Are Target of State Attorney General’s ‘Sexual Misconduct’ Investigation.”

Juvenile Justice (Or Lack Thereof)

Via Teen Vogue: “Youth Incarceration in the United States, Explained.”

Via ProPublica: “Concern Grows Over Youths at Juvenile Correctional Facility Being Sent to Adult Prison.”

“Free College”

Free Community College Picks Up Steam,” says Inside Higher Ed.

The Business of Student Loans

Via the CFPB press office: “CFPB Report Finds Consumer Complaints Spurred Actions That Brought More Than $750 Million in Relief for Student Loan Borrowers.”

Via The New York Times: “A Student Loan Nightmare: The Teacher in the Wrong Payment Plan.”

There’s lots more student loan news in the politics section above.

The “New” For-Profit Higher Ed

Strayer and Capella, two for-profit colleges, will merge in a $2 billion deal. More via The Chronicle of Higher Education, Mindwires Consulting’s Michael Feldstein, and The Wall Street Journal.

Via Inside Higher Ed: “DeVry Parent Company Makes Pledges to Students.”

Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “John Grisham’s Latest Villain? For-Profit Colleges.”

Online Education and the Once and Future “MOOC”

Chalkbeat investigates the Indiana Virtual School: “As students signed up, online school hired barely any teachers – but founder’s company charged it millions.”

Online Schooling: Who Is Harmed and Who Is Helped?” asks Susan Dynarksi in Education Next.

“Clarity into the successful transition of UF Onlinefrom Mindwires Consulting’s Phil Hill.

Meanwhile on Campus…

Inside Higher Ed profiles Liberty University’s Jerry Falwell Jr.

Liberty U. President Says Trump Could Be ‘Greatest President Since Abraham Lincoln’,” says The Chronicle of Higher Education’s Adam Harris. What sort of history does Liberty teach!? (Don’t answer that.)

Via Buzzfeed: “Here’s How A Picture Of Protesters Became A Misleading Far-Right Story.” The picture is from a speech at Columbia University by conspiracy theorist and Trump promoter Mike Cernovich.

Via Inside Higher Ed: “Columbia University on Tuesday dropped its disciplinary investigation into 16 students who disrupted a campus speaker last month.”

The Chronicle of Higher Education’s Steve Kolowich examines the student protests at Evergreen College.

Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “7 Are Arrested Outside Milo Yiannopoulos Speech at Cal State-Fullerton.”

Via In These Times: “The Breitbart-Fueled War on Leftist Academics.”

Speaking of Breitbart, “The Mercers Wash Their Hands of Milo,” says The Atlantic. Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “Billionaire Says Supporting Milo Yiannopoulos’s Campus Tours Was a Mistake.” Via NPR: “Billionaire Investor Robert Mercer To Step Down From Firm, Selling Stake In Breitbart.” (Selling it to his daughters, that is.)

Via Inside Higher Ed: “University of Oregon officials offer to pardon students who drowned out the president’s speech last month if they meet with administrators.”

“Colleges Should Protect Speech – or Lose Fundsby Frederick Hess and Grant Addison in The Wall Street Journal. Whose speech?

Via The East Bay Times: “Amid backlash, National Park Service yanks $98,000 grant for Black Panther Party legacy project.” The grant was to UC Berkeley professor Ula Taylor. Free speech, or something.

Do keep an eye on how education reformers talk about (speech, academic freedom, and) the curriculum now that it, apparently, is the new key to fixing things. e.g. “Social justice miseducation in our schools” by J. Martin Rochester in The Fordham Institute’s Flypaper.

Speaking of controlling the curriculum, via WDIO: “The University of Wisconsin-Superior is suspending nine academic majors, 15 minors, and one graduate program in what university leaders call an effort to ”remain responsive to regional needs." The majors include sociology, media studies, and political science.

Via NPR: “Italy Takes Aim At Fake News With New Curriculum For High School Students.”

The Columbian and NPR both cover the work that Mike Caulfield is doing on digital polarization and fact-checking online with students at Washington State University – Vancouver (and beyond).

Via Chalkbeat: “‘Act of terror’ unfolds steps from New York City high school, injuring two students.”

Via The New York Times: “Opioids on the Quad.”

Via The West Australian: “Navitas to close several colleges.” This includes its affiliation with Western Kentucky University. The Australian company provides courses for schools that decide to outsource their educational services.

Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “After Opposition, U. of Tennessee Campuses Opt Not to Privatize Facilities Services.”

Via the South Bend Tribune: “Notre Dame to end no-cost contraceptive coverage for employees.”

Via Education Week: “Schools Take a Page From Silicon Valley.” That is, some schools are having “scrum meetings,” or something.

Via WKBN: “Youngstown charter school shuts down after running out of funds.” That’s the Mahoning Valley Opportunity Center.

Details about the closure of AltSchool campuses in the “upgrades and downgrades” section below.

Accreditations, Certifications, and Competencies

“In the Era of Microcredentials, Institutions Look to Blockchain to Verify Learning,” says Edsurge. But let’s note this via Vice please, before we get too excited about moving education certification to the blockchain: “One Bitcoin Transaction Now Uses as Much Energy as Your House in a Week.” And elsewhere in blockchain land, “Alex Tapscott’s Crypto VC Firm Going Public With $100M CAD Falsely Touted 4 Blockchain Stars As Advisors,” says Forbes. (Perhaps you’ve heard of his father, Don?) But oh yes. Tell me more about how the blockchain is going to “verify learning.” LOL.

Via Getting Smart: “Digital Promise and Facebook Developing New Micro-Credentials Program.” Because the way to teach people about Facebook according to Facebook is always more Facebook.

Via Inside Higher Ed: “Green Light for Competency-Based Teacher Ed.”

Testing, Testing…

Via Edsurge: “How to Overcome Apathy and Disillusionment When Standardized Tests Fail Kids.” Spoiler alert: find new things to measure.

A testing story uses a question in the headline, so you know where the link to that one is. (Below, in the Betteridge’s Law of Headlines section.)

Go, School Sports Team!

“When School Spirit Is a Slur” – photographs on Native American mascots by Daniella Zalcman.

Via Deadspin: “High School Ref Who Walked Out Over Anthem Protests Worries About Babies Disrespecting Flag, Had Racist Facebook Posts.” Of course he did.

Via Inside Higher Ed: “NCAA president says after two recent scandals in college athletics, the public is losing faith and major reforms are needed.”

From the HR Department

Via Recode: “Coursera has ousted several senior executives along with many rank-and-file staffers.” (See also: Altschool, and just remember: venture capital and education do not mix.)

The Digital Public Library of America has a new head: John S. Bracken.

The Business of Job Training

Via Reuters: “Awaiting Trump’s coal comeback, miners reject retraining.”

The tech industry is still bullish on the business of tech training nonetheless. This, via Techcrunch: “Kenzie Academy is an ambitious project to bring tech jobs to Middle America.”

Via The New York Times: “Where the STEM Jobs Are (and Where They Aren’t).” My favorite part of the graph is how it excludes health care from life sciences jobs, making it appear as though the latter is grossly overproducing graduates when, in fact, that’s where most of the jobs of the future may well be – in health services.

Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “Demand for Pilots Sparks Instructor Shortage at Colleges’ Flight Programs.”

“Education is not where it’s all at in the learning market. We spend only a fraction of our lives in school, less in college and most of it in work. The corporate training and apprenticeship markets have more headroom, offer more room for innovation and have sustainable budgets and revenues,” says Donald Clark.

“​Filling the Other Skills Gapby Trace Urdan writing in Edsurge.

Via The Hechinger Report: “Without changes in education, the future of work will leave more people behind.”

Ed-Tech Events

Educause is holding its annual conference this week. Reports from the field from The Chronicle of Higher Education: “Ed-Tech Professionals Share What Keeps Them Up at Night.” Also via The Chronicle: “At Educause Meeting, IT Professionals Discuss Misconceptions on Campuses.” From Edsurge: “​Invasive or Informative? Educators Discuss Pros and Cons of Learning Analytics.” Inside Higher Ed also looks at how data is being talked about at the higher ed ed-tech event.

Edsurge is also holding an event this week. Reports from Edsurge Fusion: “The Future Is Always Uncertain. So How Should Educators Prepare Today’s Learners?”

This Week in Betteridge’s Law of Headlines

2 Years After ‘Opt Out,’ Are Students Taking Fewer Tests?asks NPR.

Alexa, Are You Safe For My Kids?asks NPR.

(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

Via Mother Jones: “Inside Silicon Valley’s Big-Money Push to Remake American Education.” This looks primarily at Summit Public Schools, which works with Facebook to build a learning management system that folks will try to convince you is “personalized learning.”

Via Bloomberg: “Silicon Valley Tried to Reinvent Schools. Now It’s Rebooting.” AltSchool is shutting a school in Palo Alto, Bloomberg reports, so that the company can focus on “strategy, path to growth and finances.” Sucks to be a student at that school, eh? And at this other one too: Business Insider reports that a school in Manhattan’s East Village will also close at the end of the school year. Altschool is one of the best funded education startups – it’s raised some $172 million in venture capital. Its investors include the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, the Omidyar Network, the Emerson Collective, Learn Capital, Andreessen-Horowitz, Founders’ Fund (that’s one of Peter Thiel’s investment firms), John Doerr – you know, the luminaries. Education Week’s Ben Herold has a story that touches on the education, not just the business angle (and, hey, it cites me).

“Why the Best Personalized Learning Programs Start Way Before High School,” according to Edsurge. Not sure what “the best” means here, to be honest. Perhaps not AltSchool though, eh?

“ It’s Time to Take Back Personalized Learning,” says Phyllis Lockett in Edsurge. Take it back from whom? From tech companies, I guess? Although the op-ed was written by the head of a tech company. So I dunno.

Via Techcrunch: “YouTube Kids update gives kids their own profiles, expands controls.” Start ’em young, I guess.

Via Vice: “Google Docs Is Randomly Flagging Files for Violating Its Terms of Service.”

“How Social Media Can Help Teach Good Writing,” according to Edsurge. Nice timing considering all we saw in DC this week about persuasion and Facebook.

Via Education Week: “Fundraising Effort Launches to Help Teachers Forge Connections With Families.” It’s a fundraising effort run through DonorsChoose.org which will fund “family engagement nights.”

Open, Value-Added Services, Interaction, and Learning” by Lumen Learning’s David Wiley.

Math education startup Desmos has updated its “Challenge Creator” to that students can create challenges for one another.

The Boston Globe profiles Edmit, a new startup that promises help finding out what you should pay for college. The company is co-founded by Nick Ducoff, formerly of the OER textbook startup Boundless.

Robots and Other Ed-Tech SF

The IBM Watson PR machine hums along. Via Education Dive: “IBM’s Watson is helping educators choose relevant math lessons.”

“Who’s Ready to Put Their Kid on a Self-Driving School Bus?” asks Wired.

Via Techcrunch: “Sony reboots Aibo with AI and extra kawaii.” The $1700 robot dog also requires a subscription plan. I look forward to hearing people boast about how this puppy will revolutionize education.

Robot stories are also Betteridge’s Law of Headlines stories, wouldn’t you know it?

(Venture) Philanthropy and the Business of Ed Reform

Although there’s been no public announcement, I noticed this in Edsurge’s disclosure on its rewrite of the AltSchool news: apparently the venture philanthopy firm Emerson Collective is now an investor. I’ve updated my Web page tracking Edsurge’s financial ties accordingly.

Via The Dallas Morning News: “Steve Ballmer isn’t trying to re-engineer education, but to support local projects that are already working.”

Via The Non Profit Quarterly: “Gates Foundation Takes Another Hair-Raising Stab at Fixing America’s Schools.”

Venture Capital and the Business of Ed-Tech

Tutoring company Changingedu has raised $55 million in Series D funding from Trustbridge Partners, TAL Education Group, Sequoia Capital, IDG Capital Partners, FREES FUND, and ClearVue Partners.

Wonder Workshop has raised $41 million in Series C funding from CRV, Madrona Venture Group, Tencent Holdings, Sinovation Ventures, WI Harper Group, Softbank Ventures Korea, MindWorks Ventures, TAL Education Group, TCL Capital, and Bright Success Capital. The robotics company, formerly known as play-i, has raised $78.34 million total.

Kano Computing has raised $28 million for its learn-to-code robotics kits. Investors in this Series B round include: Index Ventures, LocalGlobe, Collaborative Fund, Marc Benioff, TriplePoint Capital, Breyer Capital, Barclays PLC, Stanford University Venture Fund, John Makinson, and Thames Trust. The company has raised $44.5 million total.

Fire Tech Camp has raised $863,525 in venture funding from Emerge Education and Cass Entrepreneurship Fund for its afterschool coding classes.

Sunlight has raised $653,900 in seed funding from Seedcamp, Speedinvest, and Annection. The British company, which is building a corporate learning platform, has raised $832,700 total.

Language learning company Blue Canoe Learning has raised $1.4 million in seed funding from Kernal Labs.

Discovery Communications reported “mixed results” in its third quarter, in part because of the “dismal show of the Education and Other division.”

Coding non-profits Code/Interactive and Mouse have merged.

There’s more merger news in the for-profit higher ed section above.

Behavior management company HeroK12 has acquired enrollment management company SchoolMint. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

The venture capital firm Brighteye Ventures has raised $58 million in its first fund, which it plans to invest in ed-tech. Investors were not disclosed.

Privacy, Surveillance, and Information Security

Part 3 of EdTech Strategies’ Doug Levin’s look at schools’ data collection and data security: “Ad Tracking & Surveillance.”

Via Campus Technology: “Purdue App Puts Learning Data into Students’ Hands.” It’s not really “learning data”; it’s data that purports to be about productivity.

Via The Vancouver Sun: “Student information hacked at University of the Fraser Valley.”

“Cheap devices, known as keyloggers, are being used by students to steal professors’ passwords on campus and to change grades,” says Inside Higher Ed.

Via Education Dive: “GreatSchools adds more indicators of school quality in new rating system.”

Via Education Week: “Researchers Push Congress for Better Data Sharing in Education Partnerships.” Researchers from the Data Quality Campaign, that is.

Research, “Research,” and Reports

My latest calculations on VC funding in education: “The Business of Ed-Tech: October 2017 Funding Data.”

From the Mozilla blog: “ 10 Fascinating Things We Learned When We Asked The World ‘How Connected Are You?’”

Campus Technology summarizes a report from Gartner: “Most Higher Ed CIOs Expect Digital Transformation to Cause Significant Change to The Business Model.” ORLY. Compare with the story below…

Via Inside Higher Ed: “Many campus investments in information technology aren’t necessarily paying off, according to the National Survey of Computing, eLearning and Information Technology.”

Inside Higher Ed has posted the results of its latest “Survey of Faculty Attitudes on Technology.” Autumm Caines and Maha Bali respond in ProfHacker.

Via Chalkbeat: “When teachers are better at raising test scores, their students are less happy, study finds.”

Via Education Week: “Students Fare Better When Teachers Have a Say, Study Finds.”

“More Districts Getting What They Pay For From Ed-Tech,” says EdWeek’s Market Brief – according to a study by a company of the districts using its product. Seems legit.

A new report from NMC: “2017 Digital Literacy Impact Study: An NMC Horizon Project Strategic Brief.”

Via EdWeek’s Market Brief: “A Snapshot of Students’ Online Coursetaking: Foreign Languages On the Rise.”

From Mindwires Consulting’s Phil Hill: “State of Higher Ed LMS Market for US and Canada: Fall 2017 Edition.”

“Revised Data Shows Community Colleges Have Been Underappreciated,” says Kevin Carey in The NYT. More on community college graduation data in Inside Higher Ed.

The Edtech Edifice Complexby The World Bank’s Michael Trucano.

“From Good Intentions to Real Outcomes: Equity By Design in Learning Technologiesby Justin Reich and Mimi Ito.

Virtual reality headsets could put children’s health at risk,” according to The Guardian. Let’s count up all the things in this week’s “Weekly News” that Mark Zuckerberg has invested in that have really screwed things and could screw things up still for people. Good job, Mark. Good job.

Icon credits: The Noun Project

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