Hack Education Weekly News

Each week, I gather a wide variety of links to education and education technology articles. All this feeds the review I write each December on the stories we are told about the future of education.

(National) Education Politics

I’m sorta loathe to give a lot of attention to Trump’s budget proposal. What the President proposes and what Congress approves always looks very different. But I’ll dutifully link to some of the headlines from the week. That’s what I do here. Via Chalkbeat: “Trump’s proposed education budget: more for school choice, less for teacher training.” Via The Atlantic: “Does Trump’s Education Budget Even Matter?” Here’s the Department of Education Press Office fanfare.

Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “Here’s What the $400-Billion Federal Spending Deal Means for Higher Ed.”

Hooray. “Learning styles” in the White House:

Via Buzzfeed: “The Education Department Officially Says It Will Reject Transgender Student Bathroom Complaints.”

Via Chalkbeat: “Betsy DeVos made a covert visit to Indianapolis last week. Here’s why.” Spoiler alert: she was making a TV special and probably didn’t want to have jeering crowds in the background.

Via The New York Times: “In Her Words: Education Secretary Betsy DeVos Assesses a Year on the Job.”

From CREW (Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington): “FOIA Request – U.S. Department of Education – Office of Government EthicsDeVos.” Has she divested and/or disclosed all her financial interests?

Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “Bill Would Hold College Presidents Accountable for Sexual Abuse by Employees.”

There’s more on Department of Education efforts to help the for-profit higher ed industry in the for-profit higher ed section below. And there are several stories related to immigration and education in the immigration and education section below.

(State and Local) Education Politics

Via The New York Times: “Months of Searching Still Hasn’t Found New Schools Chancellor.” That’d be the replace for Carmen Fariña, who’s leaving her position as the chancellor for the New York City schools.

Via E-Literate: “Hawai’i Senate Bill: Would mandate OER material for all U Hawai’i system courses.” And later in the week, an update: “Hawai’i Senate OER Bill Update: Amended language saves the day.”

Via the Tennessean: “One of Nashville’s Achievement School District schools to close months after opening.”

The Texas Monthly on the future of the Texas Republican Party (with implications for education policy).

Via ELearning Inside: “An Emirati City Is Giving Tablets to Every K–2 Learner As Part of its Lughati Initiative.”

Immigration and Education

Via the AP: “Appeals court declares Trump travel ban unconstitutional.”

Via Inside Higher Ed: “Second Judge Orders DACA to Continue.”

Via The Intercept: “From School Suspension to Immigration Detention.” The school-to-deportation pipeline.

Via Inside Higher Ed: “FBI director Christopher Wray tells Senate panel that American academe is naïve about the intelligence risks posed by Chinese students and scholars. Some worry his testimony risks tarring a big group of students as a security threat.”

There’s some research related to immigration in the research section below.

Education in the Courts

Via Mother Jones: “A Federal Appeals Court Just Dealt a Blow to School Segregation.” That is, “A majority-white Alabama town can’t split from its majority-black county school district.”

Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “As** U. of Washington** Braces for Right-Wing Rally, Judge Bars It From Charging Security Fee.”

Via Cleveland.com: “ECOT goes to Ohio Supreme Court with $80 million, its survival and state’s control of charter schools on the line.”

Via Inside Higher Ed: “$1.5 Million to Get Into an Ivy.” “Lawsuit reveals just how much a college consulting service will charge for its services.”

More legal action in the immigration in the section above.

“Free College”

Via Inside Higher Ed: “Bard College opens its second ‘microcollege’ in Brooklyn Public Library. The free program, which selects ambitious applicants from underprivileged backgrounds, culminates in an associate’s degree.”

Via Inside Higher Ed: “Portland State University announced a plan to offer free tuition to prospective transfer students from low-income backgrounds starting this fall.”

The Business of Financial Aid

Via Marketwatch: “One company will now handle close to half of all student-loan payments.” That’s Nelnet, which recently merged with Great Lakes Educational Loan Services.

“What if the United States decided to cancel all student debt?” asks Bryan Alexander.

The “New” For-Profit Higher Ed

Via Inside Higher Ed: “After Borrower Defense Negotiation Fails, Department to Craft New Rule.”

From Bloomberg: “Silicon Valley’s Singularity University Has Some Serious Reality Problems.” There’s more on Singularity University, which announced it has raised over $30 million in venture capital, in the venture capital section below.

There’s more research on how students at for-profits fare (spoiler alert: not well) in the research section below.

Online Education (and the Once and Future “MOOC”)

Via NPR: “Inside The Virtual Schools Lobby: ‘I Trust Parents’.”

Via The Wall Street Journal: “As Online Schools Expand, So Do Questions About Their Performance.”

Via The New York Times: “Berklee College Expands Online, to Graduate Degrees.”

There’s more news about virtual schools in the courts section above and in the HR section below.

Meanwhile on Campus…

Via Education Week: “17 Dead After Expelled Student Opens Fire at Fla. High School.”

“Another School Shooting – But Who’s Counting?” asks The Atlantic.

“No, there haven’t been 18 school shootings in 2018. That number is flat wrong,” says The Washington Post. I’m not so sure we should dismiss Everytown’s calculations quite so quickly. I think we should count suicides as school shootings. I think we should recognize that schools are situated within neighborhoods, and when there is violence in the neighborhood, it affects the school, the students.

Related, via Wired: “Pro-Gun Russian Bots Flood Twitter After Parkland Shooting.”

Via The 74: “Schools in Texas, Massachusetts, Oklahoma & Tennessee Mourn Educators Who Have Died Due to the Flu.”

There are many departments at many universities where the ethics of technology is not just an add-on to an existing program. (There are, of course, many departments at many universities where it is.) But The New York Times wants you to know that Harvard and Stanford “are hustling to bring a more medicine-like morality to computer science.”

Via The Portland Press Herald: “Head of UMaine System has financial stake in firm seeking multimillion-dollar contract for Orono campus.”

Via the Lansing State Journal: “MSU Faculty Senate votes no confidence in Board of Trustees.”

Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “Southern New Hampshire U. Apologizes for Professor Who Said Australia Is ‘Not a Country’.”

Inside Higher Ed on “The Complications of Free Speech” at Stanford.

Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “How One Campus Is Dealing With Its Ties to a 20th-Century White Supremacist.”

Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “Princeton Professor Cancels Course After His Use of a Racial Slur Angered Students.”

Via the Sacramento Bee: “High school science fair project questioning African American intelligence sparks outrage.”

Via The Outline: “How historically black colleges transformed America.”

“What’s So Different About High Tech High Anyway?” asks KQED’s Mindshift.

Accreditations and Certifications and Competencies

The 74 interviewed Sal Khan on personalized learning and his goal to create a “global diploma,” which he says his company can “uniquely” do. Which is… um… a bold claim.

Via Inside Higher Ed: “The American Bar Association panel that accredits law schools has proposed loosening its restrictions on online education.”

Testing

ACT/SAT for all: A cheap, effective way to narrow income gaps in college,” writes Susan Dynarski in a Brookings report.

Memos from HR

Harvard has a new president, Lawrence Bacow: “Another ‘White Male Economist Named Larry’,” as The Chronicle of Higher Education put it.

Via The Miami Herald: “This teacher married her girlfriend. Then she was fired by a Miami Catholic school.” (The school, incidentally, is a participant in Florida’s voucher program, where tax dollars are used to send students to private schools – a program that Betsy DeVos and others have touted.)

K12 Inc’s CEO Stuart Udell has resigned.

Via Inside Higher Ed: “In a blow to the graduate student union movement on private campuses, three would-be unions withdraw their petitions from the National Labor Relations Board, saying they’ll instead return to seeking voluntary recognition.” That is, would-be-unions at Yale, Boston College, and the University of Chicago.

Erin Bartram on leaving higher ed.

The Business of Job Training

Via Techcrunch: “WeWork Labs, startup-focused co-working space, relaunches.”

Via Techcrunch: “Lyft partners with Black Girls Code to help develop a more diverse tech industry.”

This Week in Betteridge’s Law of Headlines

Will Augmented and Virtual Reality Replace Textbooks?asks The Center for Digital Education.

(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

Facebook Funded Most of the Experts Who Vetted Messenger Kids,” Wired’s Nitasha Tiku reports.

From the press release: “ISTE Launches New Professional Learning Partnership with Code.org; Announces Plans to Update Standards for Computer Science Educators.”

The Verge profiles Digital Ally, a company that makes police body cameras and soon, a new “conducted electrical weapon.” I’m including this news here not just because TASER holds the monopoly on the market for these weapons. But because the head of Code.org sits on the board of directors of the company that makes TASER, Axon. And perhaps folks should think about who they want to have directing their efforts for “everyone to learn to code” and if we want weapons manufacturers to be leading that charge.

Via Fast Company: “How Software Is Taking On School Shootings.”

I like to track on “baby tech” because I think it underscores how much of Silicon Valley is building a future for the wealthy. Like this example, from Techcrunch: “Cybex starts selling its $330, app-enabled car seat made for safety geeks.”

Via EdWeek’s Market Brief: “Why Startups Fail: Lessons for Education Companies.”

Via Education Week: “Virtual Reality for Learning Raises High Hopes and Serious Concerns.”

Uber wants to be public transportation, and I have some serious concerns,” writes Andrew Hawkins in The Verge. Okay. It’s not ed-tech. Except for the part in which ed-tech might be redefining public education too.

Via Gizmodo: “Tech History Group Dedicated to Preserving Information Busted Deleting Apology Tweets [Updated].” Related: Safiya Umoja Noble’s new book Algorithms of Oppression: How Search Engines Reinforce Racism is out soon, and it seems like a “must read” for teachers, particularly those who tout their special “Google Certified Educator” badges.

There are always a bunch of stories each week on how one school or one district is implementing “personalized learning” in some one-off way. It’s never clear to me why these are “a story” – except for the part in which publications funded by the Gates Foundation and CZI are being subsidized to write these articles, I guess.

“Higher Education Joins the Blockchain Party,” says Edsurge. No mention of how any of this connects to alt-right politics, but hey. It’s Silicon Valley. What do you expect.

Via Techcrunch: “Need a post on Harvard.edu about your ICO? $500, please.”

It’s boom times for the “regret industry.” This week, Rick Hess posted on his Ed Week blog “A Confession and a Question on Personalized Learning” from Amplify CEO Larry Berger.

Two articles by Maya Ganesh in Cyborgology on the newly announced Center for Humane Technology: “The Center for Humane Technology Doesn’t Want Your Attention” and “The Center Does Not Want Your Attention II. On Time Well Spent and Ethics.”

“Thoughts about Technology Then and Now” from Larry Cuban, who has a new book on education technology coming out soon.

Via Kotaku: “Sex, Pong, And Pioneers: What Atari Was Really Like, According To Women Who Were There.”

Robots and Other Education Science Fiction

Teaching assistant robots will reinvent academia,” Times Higher Education claims. Fortunately, I hit the paywall so I couldn’t hate-read this

AI Will Give Rise to ’Superhuman Workers,’ Says Google X Co-Founder,” writes Futurism.com. (That’s Sebastian Thrun with yet another prediction about the future.)

“How Russian Bots Spread Fear at University in the U.S.” – Inside Higher Ed covers a new journal article that explores how Russian bots were used to spread misinformation about BLM protests at the University of Missouri. (There is another bot story in the campus section above about Russian bots and the school shooting this week in Florida.)

Via Techcrunch: “Sony now has a Koov robotics learning kit for US classrooms.” It’s $520. Because the future of robots and ed-tech is a future for affluent classrooms.

Via Fast Company: “How Misty Plans To Build The Most Personable, Programmable Robot Ever.”

“The Ghost(writer) Busters: Can machine learning help in the fight against contract cheating?” asks Claire Hardaker, in an article on Turnitin’s claims that it can identify when students have submitted work that isn’t their own.

(Venture) Philanthropy and the Business of Education Reform

It’s “Annual Letter” time for the Gates Foundation, which means lots of press about the organization’s philanthropic efforts. Via The New York Times: “Bill and Melinda Gates Tackle ‘Tough Questions’ and Trump.” Via Chalkbeat: “To fight poverty in U.S., Bill and Melinda Gates say they may move beyond education.” Via The Washington Post: “Bill, Melinda Gates turn attention toward poverty in America.”

Venture Capital and the Business of Education

Varsity Tutors has raised $50 million in Series C funding from Learn Capital, the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, and TCV. The tutoring company has raised $107 million total.

Bullshit peddlers Singularity University has raised $32 million in funding from Silicon Valley Bank, PeopleFund, TAL Education Group, WestRiver Capital, and Boeing Ventures. It’s not the first round of venture funding, but the company has never previously disclosed how much it’s raised.

Kuali has raised $10 million from Owl Ventures. Once upon a time, the LMS maker was a non-profit.

CollegeDekho has raised $2 million from Man Capital. The college marketing company has raised $5 million total.

Kaleidoscope Group has raised $1.3 million in seed funding from Gopher Angels, Yonoventures, and gener8tor. The “scholarship platform” company has raised $1.7 million total.

Emmersion Learning has raised $600,000 from Zylun Global and Access to Education.

TurnItIn has acquired Vericite.

Microsoft has acquired Chalkup. Or acqui-hired some of the team at least.

More news on Educause’s acquisition of NMC assets. From Bryan Alexander: “Updates on the New Media Consortium bankruptcy: a purchase, an intervention, and possibilities.” More from Edsurge.

I didn’t catch this news last year, but I’ll make note of it here so I can update my list of education spinoffs: Misty spun out of the robotics company Sphero. (And there’s a story on Misty in the robots section above.)

An education IPO! ReadCloud has gone public on the Australian stock exchange.

Data, Surveillance, and Information Security

“This smartwatch for kids is adorable but probably not a great idea,” says The Verge.

More “kid tech,” this time from MIT Technology Review: “A phone that says ‘no’ to little kid fingers.”

Via The New York Times: “Facial Recognition Is Accurate, if You’re a White Guy.”

Research, “Research,” and Reports

A new report from Brookings: “Gainfully employed? New evidence on the earnings, employment, and debt of for-profit certificate students.”

Via Chalkbeat: “Study finds DACA encourages undocumented kids to stay in school, as Congress ponders their future.”

Via NPR: “The Gap Between The Science On Kids And Reading, And How It Is Taught.”

Via Motherboard: “‘Minecraft’ Data Mining Reveals Players’ Darkest Secrets.”

“Californians Gain Confidence in (Misinformed) Understanding of Charter Schools,” according to the results from the latest PACE/USC Rossier poll.

Via Edsurge: “​Report: Advising Attendance Is Up, but More ‘In-Depth’ Student Support Is Still Needed.”

Educational Attainment Is Up, but Gaps Remain,” says Inside Higher Ed. That’s based on data from the Lumina Foundation.

“Giving CC Students Home Computers Won’t Set Them up for Greater Success,” according to research written up by Campus Technology.

“Shifting to a personalized-learning model requires that schools make a six-figure upfront investment, more than 40 percent of which is likely to go to technology, according to a new analysis of six ‘breakthrough’ Chicago district and charter schools,” EdWeek’s Ben Herold writes.

“Did Flint’s Water Crisis Damage Kids’ Brains?” asks The New Republic. (I’m not putting this in the Betteridge’s Law of Headlines section because I think the answer is “yes.”)

Via National Geographic: “Can Old Dogs Learn New Tricks? New ‘Brain Games’ May Help Them Stay Young.”

Via Nesta: “What is the evidence for edtech?” Shrug. Enough evidence, I guess, that folks will try to sell you brain training for your dog…

Icon credits: The Noun Project

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