Hack Education Weekly News
26 May 2017 | 12:50 pm

The Trump Budget


Via The New York Times: “Trump’s Budget Cuts Deeply Into Medicaid and Anti-Poverty Efforts.”

Via NPR: “Trump Budget Reduces Education Spending, Raises Funding For School Choice.” Also via NPR: “President Trump’s Budget Proposal Calls For Deep Cuts To Education.”

Via Inside Higher Ed: “Trump Budget Would Slash Student Aid and Research.”

Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “What Trump’s Proposed 2018 Budget Would Mean for Higher Ed.”

Via Edweek’s Market Brief: “Trump’s Budget for Fiscal 2018: Cuts for Ed., Implications for K–12 Business.”

No Sign of Edtech In Department of Education’s Full Federal Budget Proposal,” Edsurge frets.

The Office of Educational Technology Under DeVos” by Doug Levin.

The National Endowment for the Humanities issued a press release: “NEH Statement on Proposed FY 2018 Budget.”

More news from the NEH in the HR section below.

Thankfully, this budget is D.O.A. But it does underscore how central cruelty and ignorance are to the Trump administration.

More Education Politics


Betsy DeVos Refuses to Rule Out Giving Funds to Schools That Discriminate,” The New York Times reports.

Via NPR: “Here’s What Betsy DeVos Said Wednesday On Capitol Hill.”

And here’s what DeVos said when she spoke to the American Federation for Children’s National Policy Summit. I really like the part where she compares those who defend the current education system to “flat-earthers.”

“GOP lawmakers said Thursday they had planned to subpoena the former chief of federal student aid, Jim Runcie, to testify before a House of Representatives oversight subcommittee and may still do so,” Inside Higher Ed reports. “Runcie resigned from the Department of Education effective Wednesday rather than testify at a hearing on improper payments by the department. In a resignation memo and other correspondence leaked to the media, he also cited broader disagreements with the direction of the department under Secretary Betsy DeVos as reasons for his departure.” More on James Runcie’s abrupt resignation from The Washington Post, NPR, Buzzfeed.

Via The New York Times: “Trump Administration Considers Moving Student Loans from Education Department to Treasury.”

More on student loans in the student loan section below.

Via the ACLU: “The Miseducation of Betsy DeVos (Apologies, Lauryn Hill).”



“Don’t Like Betsy DeVos? Blame the Democrats,” says Diane Ravitch. TBH, there’s plenty of blame to go around.

More on DeVos’s ed-tech investments in the research section below.

Via Edsurge: “Possible ‘Fraud, Theft, Waste, and Abuse’: Report Questions NYC School Broadband Spending.”

Via NPR: “Texas Lawmakers Revive ‘Bathroom Bill,’ OK Religious Refusal Of Adoptions.” Via WaPo: “Texas House passes ‘bathroom bill’ restricting transgender student access.”

Immigration and Education


Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “Appeals Court Refuses to Reinstate Trump’s Travel Ban.”

Education in the Courts


Via WaPo: “Private investigator accused of seeking Trump’s tax records through financial aid website.” More via Diverse Issues in Higher Education, who I believe broke the story.

Via The San Francisco Chronicle: “Dubious arrests, damaged lives” – “How shelters criminalize hundreds of children.”

Via Education Week: “Court Orders Pa. to Approve Thrice-Rejected Cyber Charter Applicant.” That’s the Insight PA Cyber Charter School.

More on for-profits’ legal machinations in the for-profit higher ed section below. More on immigration in the courts in the legal section above.

Testing, Testing…


“The Standardized Test Monopoly That Secretly Runs America’s High Schools” by Liz Dwyer. Spoiler alert: it’s the College Board.

Via The Milwaukee Neighborhood News Service: “Local students struggle after changes to GED test.”

Via Education Week: “In Race for Test-Takers, ACT Outscores SAT – for Now.”

Via The NYT: “As Pollen Counts Rise, Test Scores Fall.”

Via Education Week: “Market Is Booming for Digital Formative Assessments.”

Via Education Week: “Iowa schools to stop using $14M testing software after audit.”

Via Education Dive: “Testing centers a growing source of higher ed revenue.”

“Free College”


Via Inside Higher Ed: “The New York State Higher Education Services Corporation Board of Trustees approved regulations for the state’s new tuition-free public college tuition program Thursday, including some key regulations that would seem to address concerns about residency and credit-completion requirements.”

The Business of Student Loans


Via Buzzfeed: “Trump Is Under Pressure To Deliver On Obama’s Student Loan Forgiveness.”

“On track for Public Service Loan Forgiveness? Good news, you’re not in danger from Trump’s budget,” says The Washington Post. This is still terrible news for those not yet “on track,” including those weighing degrees and careers in public service.

Via Buzzfeed: “Here’s How Trump’s Student Loan Proposals Could Affect You.”

Via The New York Times: “Education Dept. Keeps Obama Plan to Streamline Loan System.”

Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “Education Dept. Says It Will Pick Single Loan Servicer.”

Via Bloomberg: “Americans Are Paying $38 to Collect $1 of Student Debt.”

Via Inside Higher Ed: “About 234,000 defaulted student loan borrowers with debt valued at $4.6 billion will be stuck in limbo and unable to get out of default if a judge’s order is not lifted this week, the Department of Education said in a court filing Friday.”

More on the business (and the politics and the legality) of financial aid in the politics section above and in the for-profit higher ed section below. And more on data and research on student loan debt in the research section below.

The “New” For-Profit Higher Ed


Via Inside Higher Ed: “A group of California for-profit colleges filed a lawsuit in federal court this week seeking to block the implementation of borrower-defense rules finalized last fall.”

University of Colorado Denver students can earn college credit by taking courses at the coding bootcamp Galvanize. (Worth noting: the website promotes private student loan companies SkillsFund and Climb to students looking for tuition assistance.)

Online Education and the Once and Future “MOOC”


Via Slate: “The New Diploma Mills.”

There’s more from Slate in its series on online credit recovery programs: “Why Bad Online Courses Are Still Taught in Schools.”

George Mason University and Old Dominion University have launched the Online Virginia Network, “an online portal where students can browse both institutions’ online programs and calculate the cost of earning a degree.” Online portals still makin’ news.

Meanwhile on Campus…


Via NPR: “Mark Zuckerberg Tells Harvard Graduates To Embrace Globalism, ‘A Sense Of Purpose’.” He mentioned something in his commencement speech about “personalized learning,” which I think – if we’re talking about Facebook’s vision of such things – means profiling users, getting them to click on things, and selling advertising based on their data. “Mark Zuckerberg Should Really Listen to Himself,” says Wired’s Nitasha Tiku.

Related: “‘Harvard Crimson’ Site Is Hacked to Take Jabs at Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg,” The Chronicle of Higher Education reports.

Also related:



Via Buzzfeed: “Harvard’s Closed Captioning Malfunctioned And Turned Zuckerberg’s Speech Into A Jibberish Tone Poem.”

Via The Daily Beast: “Over 100 Students Walk Out of Mike Pence’s Commencement Address” at Notre Dame.

“Dozens of Middlebury Students Are Disciplined for Charles Murray Protest,” The New York Times reports in a story that does not cite a single student involved in opposing Murray’s presence at the school.

Via The Baltimore Sun: “Police, FBI investigating University of Maryland killing as possible hate crime.” Richard Collins III was set to graduate Bowie State University this week. Sean Urbanski, a member of a white supremacist group, was arrested for stabbing him. More via The NYT.

“It Runs Deep and We Can’t Talk It Out: On Campus Racism and the Murder of Richard Collins III” by Daniel Greene.

Via The New York Times: “Surprise for a Mother Who Helped Her Paralyzed Son in Every Class.” They both graduated from Chapman University. Disability journalist David Perry responds: “Inspiration Porn Watch: Mom Gets Degree, Disabled Son Erased.”

Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “Mizzou’s Freshman Enrollment Has Dropped by 35% in 2 Years. Here’s What’s Going On.”

Buzzfeed’s Molly Hensley-Clancy on allegations of racial bias in Princeton’s admission practices.

Via The New York Times: “Pregnant at 18. Hailed by Abortion Foes. Punished by Christian School.” Maddi Runkles won’t be able to participate in graduation because she’s pregnant, her school says.

Via Buzzfeed: “Caltech Professor Who Harassed Women Was Also Investigated For Creating An Imaginary Female Researcher.” The professor in question: astrophysics professor Christian Ott.

Via NPR’s Code Switch: “Why Colleges Already Face Race-Related Challenges In Serving Future Students.”

Via The Times-Picayune: “New Orleans principal loses job after wearing Nazi-associated rings in video.” Nicholas Dean was a principal at the charter school Crescent Leadership Academy. 99% of the students at this school are African-American. Can you fucking imagine sending your child off every day to this man’s school?!

Via Chalkbeat’s Colorado newsroom: “Jeffco Public Schools suspended an average of four young students a day last year – and district officials are paying attention.”

“How far should a university go to face its slave past?” asks The Chronicle of Higher Education. Um…. all the way?

Via Times Higher Education: “German Universities Oppose Plan to Compete on Teaching Quality.”

“How teachers can support students during Ramadanby Rusul Alrubail.

Via WFAA.com: “Channelview ISD [in Channelview, Texas] teachers are being disciplined after naming a student ‘most likely to become a terrorist.’”

Via WaPo: “Teachers gave a teen with ADHD a ‘Most Likely to Not Pay Attention’ award.”

Pull your shit together, teachers.

Via The NYT: “Student Brought Loaded Gun to Brooklyn School, Police Say.”

More on guns at schools in Georgia in the sports section below.

Via Philly.com: “For these Philly librarians, drug tourists and overdose drills are part of the job.”

Accreditation and Certification


Via Edsurge: “Texas Partners With BloomBoard to Bring Competency-Based PD to the State.” (Disclosure alert: no mention that Edsurge and Bloomboard share investors.)

Also via Edsurge: “Why There’s Little Consistency in Defining Competency-Based Education.” The story is part of a new guide, sponsored by D2L, on CBE. (Disclosure alert: no mention that Edsurge and D2L share investors.)

Go, School Sports Team!


Via the Bleacher Report: “Georgia Law Will Allow Carry of Handguns at Public University Tailgate Events.” Guns will be allowed at more than just sports events, but as US News & World Report observes, “No Storage, Signs on Georgia Campuses as Gun Ban Lifts.”

From the HR Department


Bro Adams announced his resignation as the chairman of the NEH.

Via The San Francisco Chronicle: “UC Berkeley fires instructor following sexual harassment claims.” That’d be Blake Wentworth, who taught in the Department of South and Southeast Asian Studies.

Via Techcrunch: “SoFi co-founder Dan Macklin is leaving the company.”

Via the ProQuest press release: “Matti Shem Tov, President of Ex Libris, a ProQuest company, will succeed Kurt Sanford as CEO of ProQuest in 2017.”

The Business of Job Training


A report from VC firm GSV Acceleration: “It’s a Breakout: Capital Flows In the Learning and Talent Technology Market.”

According to this Techcrunch article, MOOCs like Udacity and Coursera weren’t working out for AirBnB so now it is “running its own internal university to teach data science.”

Via Edsurge: “Would You Like Higher Ed With That? Guild Education’s Playbook to Educating Employees.” (No disclosure in this article that Edsurge shares investors with Guild Education.)

The Ringling Bros and Barnum & Bailey Circus has held its final show. What’s going to happen to all those clown colleges and clown training programs?

This Week in Betteridge’s Law of Headlines


Via MinnPost: “Almost 50 years ago, Oregon Trail revolutionized educational software. Can the game’s creators do it again?”

(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


In January, Edsurge announced it was pivoting to focus on its procurement service to schools. Now, four months later, it says it’s shutting down its Concierge service to focus on building an “online diagnostic tool.” (Note what happens to the data.)

Mindwire Consulting’s Phil Hill onBarnes & Noble Education’s Predictive Analytics Deal With Unizin.” More via Inside Higher Ed.

“Tracking Google and Microsoft Adoption in Higher Ed” by Jim Siegl.

How Google is ruining the Web.

Via The Guardian: “ Revealed: Facebook’s internal rulebook on sex, terrorism and violence.”

Via Edsurge: “EDUCAUSE Adds Emerging Edtech Membership for Small Companies, Hints at Overhaul.”

The New York Times profiles the College Advising Corps: “Bringing the Dream of an Elite College to Rural Students.”

Via Techcrunch: “Raspberry Pi Foundation and CoderDojo to code club together.”

“Ed-Tech Publishing Group Wrestles With Shift to ‘Student-Centered’ Learning,” says EdWeek Market Brief’s Michele Molnar, reporting from the Association of American Publishers’ PreK–12 Learning Group’s conference.

Via Edsurge: “OER Pioneer David Wiley Predicts All Community Colleges Will Dump Traditional Textbooks By 2024.” (I’ll keep track of this via my new project that tracks these sorts of predictions about the future. Do remember: Clayton Christensen has predicted that by that date, half of all universities will be bankrupt.)

Via Edsurge: “Turnitin Offers Lexile Scores to Help Teachers Better Assign Reading Passages.” (Both Lexiles and Turnitin are pretty terrible, I’d add, although for different reasons. One is a proprietary (mis)measurement of reading levels; the other makes proprietary decisions based on students’ IP.)

Speaking of IP: “All the Second Life rabbits are doomed, thanks to DRM,” Boing Boing reports.

Via Edsurge: “Massive Data Breaches, Billions in Wasted Funds: Who Is Holding Edtech Vendors Accountable?” Insert shrug emoji here.

Robots and Other Ed-Tech SF


Via Disability Scoop: “Mom Designs Drone To Track Kids Who Wander.”

Venture Capital and the Business of Ed-Tech


Coaching service Paragon One has raised $1.9 million in seed funding from Y Combinator, Foundation Capital, Learn Capital, University Ventures, Li Yuan Ventures, Altair Ventures, Jimmy Lai, and Jeff Xiong.

Publisher eDynamic Learning has raised an undisclosed amount of money from Gauge Capital.

Privacy, Surveillance, and Information Security


Via The Verge: “This French school is using facial recognition to find out when students aren’t paying attention.” The school: the ESG business school. The software: Nestor, creatored by LCA Learning. In Greek mythology, Nestor did not participate in the looting of Troy, but clearly this software – it’s a trap! – is very much interested in looting students’ data.

Via Information Observatory: “Academic Surveillance Complex.”

Via Education Dive: “School administrators want ability to filter Wi-Fi on school buses.”

An update from Edmodo’s CEO about the company’s recent security breach and advertising program.

Via The Intercept: “Facebook Won’t Say If It Will Use Your Brain Activity for Advertisements.” Man, Zuckerberg’s plans for personalized learning are gonna be so swell.

Via MIT Technology Review: “Google Now Tracks Your Credit Card Purchases and Connects Them to Its Online Profile of You.” Aren’t you glad schools have embraced Google Apps for EDU so readily?!

Data and “Research”


“Here’s How a Student ‘Unit Record’ System Could Change Higher Ed,” according to The Chronicle of Higher Education.

Via Edsurge: “Meet Caliper, the Data Standard That May Help Us (Finally) Measure Edtech Efficacy.”

Speaking of extracting people’s data without their knowledge or consent, this via Joel Winston: “Ancestry.com takes DNA ownership rights from customers and their relatives.”

Via Chalkbeat: “As ed reformers urge a ‘big bet’ on personalized learning, research points to potential rewards – and risks.”

Via Inside Higher Ed: “Report on online education landscape suggests potentially leaner times ahead for colleges hoping to profit in the market. Community colleges are already seeing it.”

FdB’s “study of the week” looks at entrance exams.

Via NPR: “Preschool, A State-By-State Update.”

Music Teachers Believe a Lot of Myths,” according to research reported by Pacific Standard.

Kevin Carey on William Sanders, “The Little-Known Statistician Who Taught Us to Measure Teachers” (and who gave us the “value-added” model.)

Via Education Week: “Big Data in Education Needs Better Outreach, National Report Says.”

Via NY Magazine: “Women Hold Nearly Two-Thirds of Outstanding Student-Loan Debt.”

Via Bryan Alexander: “Higher education enrollment declined in 2017. Again.”

Via Edsurge: “Study Finds Classroom-Response ‘Clickers’ Can ‘Impede Conceptual Understanding’.”

A new study has found that “fitness trackers suck at counting calories,” as Techcrunch puts it. The devices were more accurate, however, at monitoring heart-rates – “approaching something useful in a clinical setting.” (Here’s a link to the study.) Remember: consumer tech does not pass the sorts of regulatory mechanisms required for medical tech – when it comes to the accuracy of the data tracking or the security and privacy of data storage. Perhaps something to think about as ed-tech proponents laud hardware, software, and consumer-oriented (ed-)tech as unleashing and reflecting new “learning sciences.”

Speaking of “learning sciences,” this from Ulrich Boser: “Betsy DeVos has invested millions in a ‘brain training’ company that’s based on dubious science. I went to check it out.” I’m shocked – shocked! – that “dubious science” is at play at an education technology company.

Icon credits: The Noun Project


Education Technology as 'The New Normal'
24 May 2017 | 7:05 pm

This talk was given today at CENTRO's symposium "Data, Paper, Scissors Tech-Based Learning Experiences for Higher Education" in Mexico City.

Thank you very much for inviting me here today. I must apologize in advance for a couple of things about this presentation. First, I apologize that it’s in English. Second, I apologize that it takes such a grim tone. I’m well known, I think, for fierce criticisms and cautions about education technology, and what I’ve prepared today is perhaps even darker and more polemical than I’d like, strikingly so on this beautiful campus. I confess: I am feeling incredibly concerned about the direction the world is taking – politically, environmentally, economically, intellectually, institutionally, technologically. Trump. Digital technologies, even education technologies, are implicated in all of this, and if we are not careful, we are going to make things worse.

History is not the past. It is the present. We carry our history with us. We are our history. If we pretend otherwise, we literally are criminals.

"I attest to this: the world is not white; it never was white, cannot be white. White is a metaphor for power, and that is simply a way of describing Chase Manhattan Bank." – James Baldwin

I want to be sure that anytime we talk about “the future of education,” that we always consider “the history of education.” We cannot break from history. We have not severed ourselves from the past through the introduction of computers or computer networks. Our institutions have not been severed from the past because of these. Our cultures have not. (At least not entirely. Not yet.) We have not.

When we talk about “the future of education” as an explicitly technological future, I want us to remember that “the history of education” has long been technological – thousands of years of writing, hundreds of years of print, a century of “teaching machines,” 75 years of computing, almost 60 years of computer-assisted instruction, at least 40 years of the learning management system, more than 25 years of one-to-one laptop programs, a decade (give or take a year) of mobile learning. Education technology is not new; it has not appeared “all of a sudden”; and it is not a rupture. It is inextricably linked to history, to histories of education and to histories of technology.

Education technology has its roots in traditional institutions, including and particularly the university and the military.

To be clear, when I talk about education technology or technologies, I am not referring simply to tools or artifacts or products; and technologies certainly aren’t simply computing devices – software or hardware. Technologies, to borrow from the physicist Ursula Franklin, are practices. Technologies are systems. Technology “entails far more than its individual material components,” Franklin wrote. “Technology involves organizations, procedures, symbols, new words, equations, and, most of all, a mindset.”

When I say that education technology is not new, I’m not arguing that technologies do not change over time; or that our institutions, ideas, experiences, societies do not change in part because of technologies. But when we talk about change – when we tell stories about technological change – we must consider how technologies, particularly modern technologies like computers, emerged from a certain history, from certain institutions; how technologies are as likely to re-inscribe traditional practices as to alter them. We must consider how technology operates, in Franklin’s words, as “an agent of power and control.” We must consider how technologies carry this in their design, in their code, in their materiality, in their usage, in the ideologies that underpin them. Because of industry and because of institutions and because of capitalism and because of the weight of history and tradition, technologies are often hegemonic, even if, from time-to-time, we can seize them for counter-hegemonic stories and practices.

All this is particularly important, I would argue, when we think about the technologies – practices, beliefs, systems – that are developed by or developed for educational institutions, when we think about education technologies and when we think about educational change.

There are compelling stories, no doubt, about education technology. We’ll hear them today. Old stories and new stories. Education technology as disruptive. Education technology as transformative. Education technology as progressive (“progressive” as in progressive education like that envisioned by Maria Montessori or John Dewey; or “progressive” as related to social reform movements; or “progressive” as relating to technological progress). In the twenty-first century (as it has been for some time now) we are quite taken with the notion of technology as the force for “progress,” for change. But let’s not confuse new products and new practices and new politics with better.

If technology is the force for change, in this framework, those who do not use technology, of course – schools and teachers, stereotypically – are viewed as resistant to or even obstacles to change.

Seymour Papert, an early promoter of the narrative that personal computers would transform learning, wrote in 1993 that he’d already seen the ways in which educational institutions had dulled computers’ radical potential. “Little by little the subversive features of the computer were eroded away,” he wrote in his book The Children’s Machine.

Instead of cutting across and so challenging the very idea of subject boundaries, the computer now defined a new subject; instead of changing the emphasis from impersonal curriculum to excited live exploration by students, the computer was now used to reinforce School’s ways. What had started as a subversive instrument of change was neutralized by the system and converted into an instrument of consolidation.

It’s been almost 25 years since Papert wrote that book, and we can debate whether or not computers have actually failed to change educational institutions. (Certainly the title of this segment of today’s event – “the new normal” – seems to conclude that something in School’s ways, to borrow Papert’s phrase, has shifted.) We can debate too whether or not computers were ever really a “subversive instrument of change” in education. Or rather, what exactly do computers subvert? (Institutions? People? The public?)

And this is the question, I think, that feels incredibly pertinent for us to consider, particularly as the education technology industry boasts about its disruptive capabilities and exerts its financial, political, and cultural power. What might be subverted? What might be lost? (That is, who will lose?)

When I hear the phrase “the new normal,” I cannot help but think of the ways in which those same words were used in the US to describe the economy during and since the financial crisis of 2007–2008 and subsequent global recession. A period of slow economic growth, limited job creation, and stagnant incomes. A period of economic instability for most of us, and one of growing economic inequality globally as the super wealthy got super wealthier.

That period was also one of enormous growth in new digital technology companies. Facebook and Twitter grew in popularity as social networks emerged to profoundly reconfigure information and media. Netflix moved from DVDs to a streaming service to a media company in its own right. Amazon introduced “The Cloud.” Apple introduced the iPhone, and “apps” became ubiquitous, leading some to pronounce the World Wide Web – a scholarly endeavor at its origin, let’s not forget – was dead. Venture capitalists became exuberant once again about investing in high tech startups, even those in education, which had for the previous decade been seen as a difficult and unprofitable market. Another Dot Com boom was predicted, this one centered on personal data.

But the growth of Silicon Valley didn’t really do much to improve the economic well-being of most of us. It didn’t really create jobs, although it did create wealth for a handful of investors and entrepreneurs. It did help further a narrative that our economic precarity was not only “the new normal” but potentially liberatory. The “freelance” economy, we were told, meant we didn’t have to have full-time employment any longer. Just “gigs.” The anti-regulatory practices and libertarian ideology espoused by the CEO of Uber became a model for talking about this “new economy” – that is until Uber (and others) are able to replace freelance workers with robots, of course. “We’re like Uber,” became something other companies, including those in education, would boast, despite Uber’s skullduggery.

This “new normal” does not simply argue that governmental regulations impede innovation. It posits government itself as an obstacle to change. It embraces libertarianism; it embraces “free markets.” It embraces a neoliberalism that calls for shrinking budgets for public services, including education – a shifting of dollars to private industry.

Education needs to change, we have long been told. It is outmoded. Inefficient. And this “new normal” – in an economic sense much more than a pedagogical one – has meant schools have been tasked to “do more with less” and specifically to do more with new technologies which promise greater efficiency, carrying with them the values of business and markets rather than the values of democracy or democratic education.

These new technologies, oriented towards consumers and consumption, privilege an ideology of individualism. In education technology, as in advertising, this is labeled “personalization.” The flaw of traditional education systems, we are told, is that they focus too much on the group, the class, the collective. So we see education being reframed as a technologically-enhanced series of choices – consumer choices. Technologies monitor and extract data in order to maximize “engagement” and entertainment.

I fear that new normal, what it might really mean for teaching, for learning, for scholarship.

Seymour Papert argued that “School’s ways” would persist, despite the subversiveness of computers, but I’m not so sure. Or rather, I’d argue that we do see a subversiveness from computers – let’s call it an Uberification – but it looks nothing like what he had hoped for. If School’s ways have been altered, it’s because of the political and fiscal pressures on them. I’d argue new technologies are prompting schools to acquiesce to, to merge with “Silicon Valley’s ways,” with surveillance capitalism, for example.

Technologies may well be poised to redefine how we think about learning, intelligence, inquiry, the learner, the teacher, teaching, knowledge, scholarship. But remember: technological “progress” does not necessarily mean “progressive politics.” Silicon Valley’s ways also include individualism, neoliberalism, libertarianism, imperialism, the exclusion of people of color and white women from its workforce. These biases are now part of algorithms and algorithmic decision-making.

Again my fear with our being comfortable or complacent with this “new normal”: Silicon Valley’s ways and Silicon Valley’s technologies are readily subverting the values of democracy and justice.

The values of democracy and justice should be School’s ways. But to be fair, neither democracy nor justice are values that most educational institutions (historically, presently) have truly or fully or consistently lauded or oriented themselves around.

If we want the future to be something other than an exploitative dystopia, I think our task must be to resist the narratives and the practices and the technologies that further inequality.

We cannot do this through through technological solutionism (although technologies are absolutely part of what we need to address and fundamentally rethink). We need to rethink our practices. We have to forgo “personalization.” We must do this through collective action, through community. We do this through action oriented around social and racial justice. We do this through democracy. (And through art.)

If educational institutions cannot take leadership in this crisis – a crisis of “the new normal” – then I don’t think we have any hope at all. My hope right now rests in the leadership of those outside Silicon Valley, indeed outside the US.


Hack Education Weekly News
19 May 2017 | 2:50 pm

Education Politics


Via The Washington Post: “Trump’s first full education budget: Deep cuts to public school programs in pursuit of school choice.”

NPR’s Cory Turner on “The Promise And Peril Of School Vouchers.” Also by Turner: “Indiana’s School Choice Program Often Underserves Special Needs Students.”

Also via WaPo: “Here are K–12 education programs Trump wants to eliminate in 2018 budget.” This includes $10.1 million for Special Olympics because these are some cruel, cruel people.

Via Politico: “DeVos expected to unveil school choice plans Monday.”

“This is the new Betsy DeVos speech everyone should read,” according to WaPo’s Valerie Strauss at least. Bonus points for invoking the Prussians, Madame Secretary.

“Why I Turned My Back on Betsy DeVos During Graduation” by Bethune-Cookman Class of 2017’s Tyler Durrant.

Via The Washington Post: “Betsy DeVos was asked to address education reporters at their annual convention. She said no.”

Via Politico: “DeVos’ designated ethics official found no conflict with her addressing the American Federation for Children in her official capacity, a spokesman said Monday. DeVos is the former chair of the American Federation for Children, which advocates for school choice policies, such as tax credit scholarships and vouchers. She and her husband also donated $200,000 to AFC’s charitable arm in 2014 and 2015 through the Dick and Betsy DeVos Family Foundation. DeVos stepped down as AFC chair last year after President Donald Trump nominated her for secretary.”

President Trump gave the commencement speech at Liberty University. Details via The Chronicle of Higher Education.

Via The Washington Post: “Trump and DeVos plan to reshape higher education finance. Here’s what it might mean for you.”

I’ve put all the student loan updates in its own section below.

“The Privatization Prophets” by Jennifer Berkshire.

Los Angeles Just Had the Most Expensive School Board Race Ever – and Betsy DeVos Couldn’t Be Happier,” says Mother Jones. Charter school-backed Nick Melvoin unseated school board president Steve Zimmer. More than $14 million was spent on this race.

Via Inside Higher Ed: “A bipartisan group of influential U.S. senators released a bill Monday that would overturn the ban on a federal student-level data system that would allow for the tracking of employment and graduation rates. A bipartisan companion bill in the U.S. House of Representatives followed Tuesday.” More via The Chronicle of Higher Education.

Via The Hill: “FCC votes to advance net neutrality repeal.” More via Education Week. (Here are the education technology companies that have raised money from ISPs. Watch to see what they have to say (if anything) about net neutrality and the future of education.)

Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “The States Where Campus Free-Speech Bills Are Being Born: A Rundown.” A related story via Inside Higher Ed: “Critics of proposed legislation to ensure First Amendment rights at Wisconsin public universities say it could backfire and limit expression. Requirement for political neutrality alarms professors and administrators alike.”

Via The Washington Post: “Secret report shows ‘special’ treatment for public officials in D.C. school lottery.”

Via The News & Observer: “At 3 a.m., NC Senate GOP strips education funding from Democrats’ districts.”

The New York Times looks at “anti-tax fervor in southern Oregon, which will result in the one public library in Roseburg closing its doors.

ProPublica looks at the lobbying group the Home School Legal Defense Association: “Small Group Goes to Great Lengths to Block Homeschooling Regulation.”

Immigration and Education


Via The Gothamist: “Federal Immigration Agent Allegedly Inquired About 4th Grader At Queens Public School.”

Via Inside Higher Ed: “Students at Northwestern University drove out a representative from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement who was due to speak to a sociology class Tuesday.”

Education in the Courts


Via The New York Times: “4 Plead Guilty in Baruch College Student’s Hazing Death.”

Elsevier Wants $15 Million Piracy Damages From Sci-Hub and Libgen,” says TorrentFreak.

More legal stories in the sports section below.

Testing, Testing…


Via The Post and Courier: “Citadel cadets score low on a critical-thinking exam. But there’s reason to be skeptical about their results.” That’s the Collegiate Learning Assessment exam (a.k.a. CLA+).

Via Vox: “Why the Myers-Briggs test is totally meaningless.”

Via NPR: “AP Test-Takers’ Tweets May Not Give Away Answers, But They Raise Questions.”

More on venture philanthropy and test prep in the venture philanthropy section below.

“Free College”


“Should Students Get ‘Grades 13 and 14’ Free of Charge?” asks The New York Times Magazine.

Via The New York Times: “Free Tuition? Tennessee Could Tutor New York.”

Via Inside Higher Ed: “Boston-area nonprofit will pay gang members who want to go to college and get off the street, with a goal of improving communities.” The non-profit in question: College Bound Dorchester.

The Business of Student Loans


Via Slate: “Betsy DeVos Wants to Kill a Major Student Loan Forgiveness Program.”

“400,000 were promised student loan forgiveness. Now they are panicking,” says CNN.

Here’s Betsy DeVos in The Wall Street Journal: “Treating Students as Customers.” “How the Education Department is revamping its loan-serving program.”

Reminder: Betsy DeVos has a financial stake in a student loan collection agency.

Via NPR: “Can’t Pay Your Student Loans? The Government May Come After Your House.”

Via Techcrunch: “SoFi gets into wealth management.” That’s a private student loan provider, but I forgot that everyone in ed-tech thinks this whole private student loan thing isn’t something we should be watching because it’s not really ed-tech.

Via the Huffington Post: “Nicki Minaj Is Starting An ‘Official Charity’ To Pay Off Student Loans.”

The “New” For-Profit Higher Ed


Via Edsurge: “Why Donald Graham Sold Kaplan University to Purdue for $1.” (And there’s even a disclosure about Edsurge’s financial ties to Graham on this story. Good job, team.)

Via The New York Times: “U.S. Crackdown on For-Profit Schools Is Said to Go Idle.”

Also via The New York Times: “For-Profit Charlotte Law School Is Subject of North Carolina Inquiry.”

Online Education and the Once and Future “MOOC”


“Why Haven’t MOOCs Eliminated Any Professors?” asks IHE blogger Joshua Kim. What’s his evidence that technology has not eliminated jobs – other than this weird insistence that there is no such thing as neoliberalism in ed-tech?

Via The Verge: “Who is MasterClass for? Talking to the people who take online classes with big-name celebs.”

Meanwhile on Campus…


Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “Caltech Students Protest Return of Professor From Suspension.” That’s Christian Ott, an astrophysics professor, who has been accused of harassing his graduate students.

Via NPR: “As White Supremacists Push Onto Campuses, Schools Wrestle With Response.”

Via The Wall Street Journal: “Where Kids Aren’t Allowed to Put on Sunscreen: in School.”

Zynga and USC enter social and mobile game design partnership,” says Education Dive. I’d totally forgotten that Zynga was still a thing, but apparently the company has enough money to subsidize gaming courses.

Via Inside Higher Ed: Mills College “announces layoffs (likely including tenured professors) and plans for curricular reform – amid a deficit that has grown to $9 million.”

Via The New York Times: “500 Students in a One-Room School: Fallout of New Jersey’s Funding Woes.”

Accreditation and Certification


Via Inside Higher Ed: “Bipartisan support for career and technical education is building, with Virginia Foxx and the Center for American Progress finding rare agreement Tuesday by calling for more of a policy focus on job training that doesn’t require a four-year degree.”

Go, School Sports Team!


Via the Kansas City Star: “Lawsuit says Baylor football players videotaped gang rape, which was ‘bonding experience’.” This is the seventh lawsuit over the school’s sexual assault scandal.

Reminder that Baylor’s former athletic director now works at Jerry Falwell Jr’s Liberty University.

Speaking of Liberty U, via Deadspin: “Liberty Was So Desperate For An FBS Home Opener, It Agreed To Pay Old Dominion $1.32 Million.”

From the HR Department


The open-access publisher PLOS has a new CEO: Alison Mudditt.

Social Capital has hired Marc Mezvinsky as the investment firm morphs its business,” Recode reports. Yes, that’s the Marc Mezvinsky who’s married to Chelsea Clinton. (Here’s a look at Social Capital’s ed-tech portfolio.)

This Week in Betteridge’s Law of Headlines


“Can a buzzword deliver on its promise?” asks the Clayton Christensen Institute’s Michael Horn. (He’s referring to “personalized learning,” but might as well be any buzzword when you frame the headline that way, bud.)

(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 The New York Times: “How Google Took Over the Classroom.” There’s a lot in this superb article – data, surveillance, testing, costs, branding.

Via Edsurge: “Pearson, an Investor in Knewton, Is ‘Phasing Out’ Partnership on Adaptive Products.” No disclosure in the story that Edsurge shares investors with Knewton, nor that Pearson is, by way of Learn Capital, also an investor in Edsurge.

Via Quartz: “Apple’s new $5 billion campus has a 100,000-square-foot gym and no daycare.”

Via the BBC: “Computer giant Apple is expanding its supply line of talented young people with digital skills, by doubling the intake of its European academy.” I’m guessing those “talented young people” don’t need daycare at work, Apple?

What the conservative ed-reform publication Education Next is watching: “Silicon Valley Billionaires Created AltSchool.”

Edsurge interviews Stanford’s Candace Thille on “Why ‘Black Box’ Software Isn’t Ready to Teach College.”

Edsurge profiles MEDSKL, which is like Khan Academy but for medical school. (What could go wrong?)

Via Inside Higher Ed: “Online Exam Proctoring Catches Cheaters, Raises Concerns.” Concerns include privacy, racism.

Edsurge writes that “U of Chicago, UPenn, Harvey Mudd Among Colleges to Join Scholarship App Raise.me” but does not disclose that it shares investors with the company in question.

“​Intel Hits Pause on Edtech Accelerator,” says Edsurge.

“The Sexual Harassment Allegations Against This Virtual Reality Startup Are Really Gross,” writes Buzzfeed. That’s UploadVR. (Here’s a look, from Edsurge, at the company’s involvement in education, so that’s just swell.)

Via Campus Technology: “6 VR Trends to Watch in Education.”

Robots and Other Ed-Tech SF


Via The Verge: “Elon Musk-backed OpenAI is teaching robots how to learn just like humans do.” Just like humans do. LOL.

“This robot helps kids with special needs to communicate,” according to Techcrunch. This robot is called Robota and is the creation of a team from Rutgers University.

From the WCET blog: “Using Artificial Intelligence for Personality Insights.”

Via Education Week: “In Kentucky, Rural Schools Betting on Drones to Stem ‘Brain Drain’.”

(Venture) Philanthropy and the Business of Ed Reform


The Chan Zuckerberg Initiative is giving a grant – an undisclosed amount – to the College Board to expand test prep.

Venture Capital and the Business of Ed-Tech


CreativeLive has raised $25 million in Series C funding from GSV Acceleration, Creative Arts Agency, Greylock Partners, Jared Leto, REV, Richard Branson, and Social Capital. The online training company has raised $76 million total. (Disclosure alert.)

Revolution Prep has raised $4 million in Series B funding from Kennet Partners. The test prep company has raised $9 million total.

Marbotic has raised $1.5 million in seed funding from Mirabelle investment fund, Marguerite Fournié, and Michelin Development. The company makes wooden blocks that interact with a tablet.

Tutoring startup Byju’s will buy part of Pearson’s tutoring company TutorVista, according to The Economic Times.

Privacy, Surveillance, and Information Security


On the heels of news last week that Edmodo had been hacked and some 77 million users’ data leaked, privacy researcher Bill Fitzgerald uncovers targeted ad tracking in Edmodo. (The tracking has since been removed. But this isn’t the first time Edmodo’s had security issues, incidentally.) Edsurge writes that “Edmodo’s Tracking of Students and Teachers Revives Skepticism Surrounding ‘Free’ Edtech Tools” but does not disclose that it shares investors with Edmodo.


Via Gizmodo’s Kashmir Hill: “Uber Doesn’t Want You to See This Document About Its Vast Data Surveillance System.” This includes more than 500 pieces of information that Uber tracks for each user. Helpful for putting all those “Uber for education” folks in context.

Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “U. of Wisconsin at Madison Restores Twitter Account After Hack.”

A cyberattack spread globally this week – WannaCry, ransomware that encrypts all files on a computer until the user pays (Bitcoin) to unlock them. “Colleges Dodge Massive Cyberattack,” according to Inside Higher Ed. “US universities race to contain WannaCry ransomware, officials say,” according to Cyberscoop. Other schools affected: the Brewer school system in Maine. Here’s Microsoft’s statement, which points the finger at the NSA. I’m sorry for citing the Daily Mail but I can’t help it here: “Cyber geek who halted global computer attack was suspended by teachers after being accused of hacking school’s system (…and failed his GCSE in IT!)”

The Parent Coalition for Student Privacy has released a “Parent Toolkit for Student Privacy.”

Data and “Research”


“Don’t Grade Teachers With a Bad Algorithm,” says Cathy O’Neil.

From FdB’s ANOVA blog: “Campbell’s Law and the inevitability of school fraud.” Also: “norm referencing, criterion referencing, and ed policy.” And: “Study of the Week: What Actually Helps Poor Students? Human Beings.”

Tech Adoption Climbs Among Older Adults,” says the Pew Research Center.

Via Mindwires Consulting: “State of Higher Ed LMS Market for US and Canada: Spring 2017 Edition.”

The latest survey from Project Tomorrow: “Speak Up 2016 Research Project for Digital Learning.”

Via Inside Higher Ed: “The U.S. is not adequately developing and sustaining a skilled technical work force, according to a new report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine.”

Via Times Higher Education: “Study examines traits British students like – and don’t like – in instructors.”

“The average first-time, full-time tuition discount rate edged even closer to 50 percent in 2016–17 as net tuition revenue and enrollment struggled.” That’s according to a study by the National Association of College and University Business Officers as reported by Inside Higher Ed.

Big Data in Education” – a new report from the National Academy of Education.

Predictive Analytics in Higher Education: Five Guiding Practices for Ethical Use” – a new report from New America.

Charles Murray is once again peddling junk science about race and IQ,” says Vox.

Mindfulness training does not foster empathy, and can even make narcissists worse,” says the British Psychological Society’s Research Digest.

“Sorry, Graphology Isn’t a Real Science,” says Anne Trubek.

Via NPR: “Whirring, Purring Fidget Spinners Provide Entertainment, Not ADHD Help.”

Icon credits: The Noun Project



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