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

President Trump has announced his pick to replace Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy – more about that in the legal news section below.

“Assertions that the U.S. Department of Education missed a deadline to delay state authorization rules are incorrect, a department spokeswoman said Thursday,” Inside Higher Ed reports.

There’s more Department of Education news – relating to student loans in particular – in “the business of financial aid” section below.

Via Inside Higher Ed: “China’s Ministry of Education recently approved the termination of more than 200 Sino-foreign cooperative education programs and jointly managed institutions in what the ministry framed as a move to improve quality and regulatory control.”

(State and Local) Education Politics

Not sure why one would want to associate oneself with Elon Musk or his billionaire-bro fantasies of tech-enabled heroism, but hey. Perhaps we can learn a little about the folks who still do. Speaking of which, here’s the headline from the LA School Report: “How a Los Angeles school board member teamed up with SpaceX & Elon Musk to test a mini-sub for the Thailand soccer team’s rescue.” The LAUSD board member in question: Nick Melvoin. (Melvoin was recently elected to the board in the most expensive school board race in US history.)

The school-to-prison pipeline looks like this – from TheAppeal.org: “California County Law Enforcement Puts Kids On Probation for Bad Grades.”

Via The Post and Courier: “Charleston-area police protest ‘The Hate U Give’ school assignment.” Ah yes. Letting the police decide what students should and should not read – totally a sign of a healthy democracy.

Via The Hechinger Report: “In 6 states, school districts with the neediest students get less money than the wealthiest.” Spoiler alert: Alaska, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, New Jersey, Ohio, and South Dakota.

Via AZ Central: “Arizona charter school founder makes millions building his own schools.”

“Do you think it’s appropriate to develop charter schools and make money? Absolutely,” [Glenn] Way said. “It’s no different than building a Walmart, CVS or Walgreens.”

News from the new Tory government in Ontario: “Ford government cancels $100M school repair fund.”

Still more news from the new Tory government in Ontario: “Ford government scraps controversial Ontario sex-ed curriculum.”

Immigration and Education

Via the AP: “Kids as young as 1 in US court, awaiting reunion with family.”

Via Chalkbeat: “DACA teacher staves off his own fears while helping Chicago’s anxious undocumented students.”

“The Trump Administration Deems Dozens of Migrant Children ‘Ineligible’ for Reunification,” Pacific Standard reports.

Education in the Courts

D.C. Circuit Judge Brett Kavanaugh is Trump’s pick to replace Justice Kennedy. Politico has a breakdown of his education record.

There is more legal news in the “for-profit higher ed” section below.

Via Politico: “Tribunal de Primera Instancia Judge Iris Cancio González ruled that privately run charter schools and publicly funded vouchers used in private schools run afoul of the Puerto Rican constitution.”

Via the Star Tribune: “St. Cloud State professor alleges forced union representation violates her rights.”

Via The Salt Lake Tribune: “She was raped at a Utah State University fraternity. Now the school will pay her $250K and she’ll help improve its response to campus sexual assault.”

Via Inside Higher Ed: “A Virginia circuit court on Thursday ruled against a George Mason University student group seeking access to donor agreements between a university foundation and the Charles Koch Foundation.” The judge ruled that the university foundation is not a public body and therefore not governed by public records laws.

Via The Atlantic: “Students in Detroit Are Suing the State Because They Weren’t Taught to Read.”

Via Inside Higher Ed: “Divided Wisconsin Supreme Court Backs Marquette Faculty Blogger.”

The Business of Financial Aid

Via NPR: “This Game Show Gives Contestants A Chance To Have Their Student Debt Paid Off.” It says all you need to know about the US that folks go on game shows to pay off student loan and medical debt.

Via Politico: “The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau said on Wednesday that the Education Department is stonewalling its attempts to gather information about Navient as part of the CFPB’s lawsuit against the student loan giant.”

Via Inside Higher Ed: “An Education Department plan to begin cutting large debt collection firms out of the student loan system is on hold after Congress warned against move.”

Via The New York Times: “The New Toll of American Student Debt in 3 Charts.”

The “New” For-Profit Higher Ed

Edsurge and Getting Smart promote venture capitalist Ryan Craig’s new book A New U and the idea that “faster + cheaper alternatives will replace most of higher ed.” “Lower ed,” I believe Tressie McMillan Cottom calls this. Here’s a list of the investments that Craig’s VC firm have made in this narrative.

The Strayer and Capella merger has been approved by its accreditor.

Via The Washington Post: “Former executives of defunct for-profit college firm ITT settle fraud charges with SEC.”

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

“The fallout from the mid-year closure of Ohio’s largest full-time online charter school continues,” writes Education Week, “with other e-schools struggling to navigate a massive influx of displaced students, thousands of students unaccounted for, and fights over money and liability dragging into the summer.” The virtual charter school in question: ECOT.

Via Inside Higher Ed: “The Federal Bureau of Investigation this week released details of a fraud scheme that bilked more than $24 million in Post–9/11 GI Bill funds, affecting more than 2,500 student veterans.” The scheme involved Ed4Mil, “an online correspondence course provider,” and a former dean of Caldwell University.

Meanwhile on Campus…

Via ProPublica: “How the Fight Against Affirmative Action at Harvard Could Threaten Rich Whites.”

Related: “How Much Does Being a Legacy Help Your College Admissions Odds?” asks The Wall Street Journal.

Via Inside Higher Ed: “Dartmouth’s competitive business school announces new criteria for admission.” Apparently the criteria is “niceness,” which I’m guessing is actually code for “whiteness” and/or political centrism.

Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “For Georgetown Alumni, a Fellow Graduate’s Defense of Child Separation Touches a Nerve.” That graduate would be Homeland Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen.

Accreditations and Certifications and Competencies

Via Inside Higher Ed: “Temple University revealed Monday that its business school lied for years on a range of statistics about its online M.B.A. program. The university gave false information to U.S. News & World Report about standardized testing, student debt, grade point averages of admitted students, student-faculty ratios and more. The dean of the Fox School of Business was ousted amid reports that he encouraged a culture that focused on rankings.” (I’ve got this story in this section because the IHE headline reads “Accreditors Eye Temple.”)

There’s more accreditation news in the “for-profit higher ed” section above.

Labor and Management

Via ProPublica: “A Day After Report, Violent White Supremacist Loses Job With Defense Contractor.” So very reassuring that you can fail a background check for a government job in the US if you’re a communist but not if you’re a Nazi.

This Week in Betteridge’s Law of Headlines

“School shooters leave clues. Could AI spot the next one before it’s too late?asks WBRC.

Can We Design Online Learning Platforms That Feel More Intimate Than Massive?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

Via Wired: “How Silicon Valley Fuels an Informal Caste System.”

Khan Academy introduces something big for little learners,” says the Khan Academy blog. “Lifelong learning” and multiple choice quizzes for two to five year olds. Sounds like fun.

E-Literate claimed this week thatCanvas Surpasses Blackboard Learn in US Market Share” – with some additional analysis about “What’s Important about the Blackboard Market Share News.” Markets responded. But wait wait wait. Wait wait wait wait wait wait. All this over a difference of two? Canvas has two more installations than Blackboard in the E-Literate calculations? Doesn’t that seem small? Doesn’t that number seem so small that it might actually be an error in reporting or sampling? Indeed, Edutechnica, which also tracks LMS data, responds with their own numbers and says that Blackboard still has about two hundred more installations than Canvas and about a million more students using the software. Shrug.

Microsoft Hopes to Revive Its Education Tablet Efforts With the New $399 Surface Go,” says Edsurge.

Via The Atlantic: “The Rise and Fall of the Family-Vacation Road Trip.”

Via Edsurge: “Britannica CEO Talks Google, Wikipedia and What Lil Pump Can Teach Us About Credibility.” From the press release (which explains why there’d be an article on the company this week): “YouTube joins forces with Britannica to provide easier access to credible and authoritative information.”

“‘Find Your Passion’ Is Awful Advice,” says The Atlantic. Content warning: contains hype about “mindsets.”

Robots and Other Education Science Fiction

I’m not tracking on these sorts of predictions right now – because of the book-writing – but let’s all circle back around in 2024 to see how this panned out. Via EdWeek’s Market Brief: “K–12 Artificial Intelligence Market Set to Explode in U.S. and Worldwide by 2024.”

High-Skilled White-Collar Work? Machines Can Do That, Too,” says The New York Times.

(Venture) Philanthropy and the Business of Education Reform

Edsurge reports thatJim Shelton to Leave Chan Zuckerberg Initiative.” (This is a good example of how ed-tech advocacy-posing-as-journalism operates – you get funded by an organization and then you get to “break the news” about that organization. Then you reprint a blog post from the organization so you get all the clicks.) More on the departure of Shelton from his role leading the venture firm’s education efforts in Education Week.

Venture Capital and the Business of Education

Pi-top, the maker of a Raspberry Pi-compatible laptop, has raised $16 million from Hambro Perks and Committed Capital. The company has raised $20.4 million total.

Swing Education has raised $15 million from GV (Google Ventures), Kapor Capital, Ulu Ventures, Moment Ventures, Edovate Capital, Red House Education, Owl Ventures, and Social Capital. The vendor, which wants schools to outsource the process of hiring substitute teachers, has raised $22.8 million total.

Goodwall has raised $10.8 million from investiere, Zürcher Kantonal Bank, Randstad Innovation Fund, and Verve Capital. The company, which claims it’s like “LinkedIn for students,” has raised $14.1 million.

Cell-Ed has raised $1.5 million from Lumina Impact Ventures. Strada Education Innovation Fund, Partners Group Impact and Twilio.org Impact Fund. The company provides “interactive lessons and content on a mobile platform to low-skilled workers.”

“Social emotional learning” content provider Move This World has raised $1 million from AT&T, The Global Good Fund, Prairie Capital, and New Media Investment Group.

National University has acquired UniversityNow – or some of its technology platform and curriculum, at least. The company had raised some $40.5 million in venture funding (including from the “cheaper and faster” folks at University Ventures). UniversityNow had previously sold off some of its technology to Penn Foster a couple of years ago. It will now join that other University Ventures “cheaper and faster” investment MissionU in the ed-tech dead-pool. Good work, everyone.

Follett has acquired “adaptive” content company Fishtree.

Via EdWeek’s Market Brief: “Short-Selling Investment Group Issues Warning About China’s TAL Education.” (Here’s a look at who TAL Education has invested in in turn.)

Data, Surveillance, and Information Security

“Education Websites Face Pending ‘Mark of Shame’” writes Doug Levin, listing many high-profile “future of education” websites that do not support HTTPS.

Jeff Sessions remarks on student data privacy laws and how they may inhibit school shooting prevention efforts pic.twitter.com/h3mOcqWo1F— Caitlin Emma (@caitlinzemma) July 11, 2018

Edsurge reports on “Secret ‘Fusion Centers’ and the Search for the Next School Shooter,” asking “Do Fusion Centers Violate Students’ Legal Right to Privacy?”

“Do Voice Assistant Devices Have a Place in the Classroom?” asks Edsurge. I mean, I’d go with the Betteridge’s Law of Headlines here, but Edsurge delivers its readers another strong dose of “gotta hear all sides.”

Not directly ed-tech related, except for the part where many ed-tech evangelists really really really seem to want to put listening devices in classrooms. Via Buzzfeed: “Walmart’s Newly Patented Technology For Eavesdropping On Workers Presents Privacy Concerns.”

Via The New York Times: “Facebook’s Push for Facial Recognition Prompts Privacy Alarms.” (See, I find it so telling that folks can write about CZI – see a couple of the stories above in the “venture philanthropy” section and gush about its plans for “personalized learning” and not ever really talk about what a shit-show for democracy Facebook is.)

“All EFF’d Up” – Yasha Levine on “Silicon Valley’s astroturf privacy shakedown.”

Research, “Research,” and Reports

Via Edsurge: “New Survey: Students See Anxiety and Time Management Among Top Challenges to Finishing Degrees.” The survey was conducted by learning analytics company Civitas Learning.

Via Edsurge: “YouTube Searches Favor Videos That Attack Public Education, Scholar Finds.”

Related perhaps – although ed-tech cheerleaders rarely seem to want to talk about any sort of bias in Google, do they – via Education Next: “According to American Teacher Panel Data, More than 90 Percent of Teachers Reported Using Google to Find Lessons.”

The Pew Research Center onActivism in the Social Media Age.”

Related to a recent story in The Hechinger Report about charter schools with policies that favor enrolling white students, you can now “Search the data on white charters.”

“How do children of color learn to draw themselves?” asks The Outline with a look at how white teachers damage kids’ self-esteem.

Icon credits: The Noun Project

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