This article includes news items that didn’t quite make the cut for part 2 of my annual review of the year in ed-tech

The Politics of Tech

It’s good to be king…

President-Elect Trump and the Presidential Campaign

The Republican Party Platform. (More from Inside Higher Ed, New America, and Edsurge, which notes its “nods to ed-tech.”

Failed Republican Party candidate Jeb Bush – arguably the one with the most (or loudest) policy experience in education – has since retaken the reins of his education organization Foundation for Excellence in Education. He also taught this fall at Harvard.

Several of the Republican Party candidates, including Ben Carson, Chris Christie, Ted Cruz and Donald Trump (as well as Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson) said they would, as President, close the Department of Education.

TurnItIn was pleased, I’m sure, to be invoked many times following Melania Trump’s speech at the Republican Party convention, which allegedly plagiarized passages from Michelle Obama’s 2008 speech. Her website was later scrubbed from the Internet – redirecting to the Trump real estate business page – following questions that she’d lied on the website about having a college degree.

Among the policies proposed by Democratic Party candidate Hillary Clinton: a proposal for free, in-state public college tuition for those with incomes up to $125,000 – a move that brought her campaign in closer alignment to those policies proposed by her rival Sanders. She also proposed a three month moratorium on federal student loan payments. Among the items on her tech agenda – excuse me, her “innovation agenda: every kid will learn to code (of course) by having the private sector train CS teachers. She wanted federal financial aid for coding bootcamps and nanodegrees. Her plan also called for the diversification of the tech workforce, but also included this doozy: a student loan deferment program for startup founders. New America’s Alexander Holt offered a pretty good argument as to why this was a ”giveaway to Silicon Valley" and one that would perhaps re-inscribe a high-tech entrepreneurial class which is already overwhelmingly white, male, and affluent.

“Trump ‘plans’ to make Peter Thiel a supreme court judge,” says Boing Boing.

Via ProPublica: “Another Unrealistic Trump Policy Proposal: Homeschool Vouchers.”

Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “How Voters’ Education Levels Factored Into Trump’s Win.”

Via NPR: “Here’s What Students Are Saying About The Election Results.” Via EdSource: “Undocumented students react with fear and anger to election results.” Students staged walk outs and protests at schools all over the country: Seattle, Santa Barbara, Eugene, Boston, Los Angeles, and elsewhere.

The fallout of the election and Trump’s sanctioning of hate: Via The NYT: “Campuses Confront Hostile Acts Against Minorities After Donald Trump’s Election.” Via The Hechinger Report: “Schoolchildren ‘have a lot of questions and a lot of fear’ in aftermath of Trump victory.” Via Chalkbeat: “‘Will I be deported?’ Inside America’s classrooms in the wake of Trump’s win.”

And despite all the promises to “drain the swamp,” it appears as though Trump is planning to fill cabinet seats and advisory roles with lobbyists and industry insiders. Via Politico: “Meet Trump’s Cabinet-in-waiting.” Via The New York Times: “Peter Thiel’s Bet on Donald Trump Pays Off.” Emphasis on “pays.” Via AFR: “Peter Thiel’s company Palantir Defense could win contracts under Donald Trump.”

Education Not Income Predicted Who Would Vote for Trump

“What does Trump’s victory mean for higher education?” asks Bryan Alexander. “Higher Education Policy Under Trump” by Sara Goldrick-Rab. “Trump Victory Jolts Higher Ed,” says IHE. (And yes, I’m watching who is celebrating this victory and/or minimizing the potential devastation. ACE. AEI. Brookings. Looking at you.) Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “AAUP Warns of Historic Threat to Academic Freedom Posed by Trump.”

“ESSA Would Handcuff a Trump Education Secretary on Common Core And More,” says Education Week, even though ditching Common Core was one of Trump’s campaign promises. More on the future of Common Core from NPR. Via The 74: “Trump’s Education Paradox: Return Schools to Local Control – By Expanding Federal Power?” Via The Atlantic: “Donald Trump and the Future of Education.”

Trump has threatened to close the Department of Education. Is that possible? It seems likely that the Trump Administration would target the Office for Civil Rights and challenge Title IX enforcement. Inside Higher Ed has more on the latter.

Via Education Week: “Weighing the Odds: Eva Moskowitz or Michelle Rhee as Trump Ed. Secretary?” I’m a little surprised that either of these women – both Democrats, both Common Core supporters, if nothing else – would be under serious consideration. I thought that Trump planned on returning control of K–12 to states, and as such, I’d assumed he’d pick a higher ed-oriented secretary. But who friggin’ knows. Other names being thrown about: Betsy DeVos. Scott Walker. Ted Nugent.

“The Education Platform I wrote for Mr. Trump” by Roger Schank.

Education Technology Under Trump: A Syllabus.”

Via Buzzfeed: “ There Was A Trump Protest On This Kids Game And People Are Shook.” Club Penguin!

How Not to Study Donald Trump” – “To make sense of Trumpism, and to put Trump in his historical context, The Chronicle of Higher Education asked a mostly white group of scholars to suggest readings for a syllabus for a mock course in Trump Studies. They returned a syllabus that was all-white in composition – not just in that the primary authors of the books selected contained no people of color but the books themselves largely avoided America’s colonial-settler, chattel-slavery, and racist-imperial history.”

Via The Washington Post: “Donald Trump Jr. trashes U.S. public schools (though he didn’t attend one).”

Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi spoke on Wednesday night. (The education angle here, as Vox points out: “Pam Bondi decided not to sue Trump University – and got a $25,000 donation from Trump.”)

Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “Donald Trump and Higher Ed.”

The 74 has a story on “Trump’s Education Legacy” (which includes an increase in school bullying).

Via the Pacific Standard: "Here’s the Lowdown on Trump’s New Childcare Proposals.

Via NPR: “Hillary Clinton’s Plan For America’s Students.” Also via NPR: “Donald Trump’s Plan For America’s Schools.”

Via Mother Jones: “Mike Pence’s Voucher Program in Indiana Was a Windfall for Religious Schools.”

Via The 74: “Betsy Devos, Trump’s EdSec Pick, Promoted Virtual Schools Despite Dismal Results.” Her husband is an investor in K12 Inc. (Meanwhile, The 74’s founder Campbell Brown says she won’t write about DeVos since they’re besties.)

Education Week looks at the campaign donations Betsy DeVos has made to “to Senators who will oversee her confirmation.”

Via Politico: “Trump’s education secretary pick supported anti-gay causes.” Pretty sure that’s the case for every cabinet pick Trump has made so far.

“Anti-Common Core Groups Unhappy About Trump Ed Secretary Pick Betsy DeVos,” says the Sunshine State News.

Via The Columbia Dispatch: “Group once led by Trump education secretary nominee owes $5.3 million to Ohio.” The money owed is by All Children Matter Inc stemming from fines to the Ohio Elections Commission for violating campaign finance law.

“Colleges’ Realities May Curtail DeVos’s Agenda,” says New America Foundation’s Kevin Carey.

“What’s the worst that could happen under New Ed Secretary Betsy DeVos?” asks The Hechinger Report, with the hellish-scenario game we get to play for the next four years. Yay.

Liberty University’s Jerry Falwell Jr says Trump offered him the Secretary of Education job first.

“What Is the Future of the Office for Civil Rights?” by The Atlantic’s Melinda D. Anderson.

Via the Sun Sentinel: “Jeb Bush sees hope in Trump’s choice for education secretary.”

The Autistic Self Advocacy Network issued a statement on the nomination of Jeff Sessions as US Attorney General. Among the organization’s reasons for condemning the nomination: “Senator Sessions has suggested increasing the segregation of disabled students in public schools, calling the inclusion of students with significant disabilities ‘the single most irritating problem for teachers throughout America today.’”

The E-Rate Program

There’s more time for schools and libraries to apply for the E-Rate program, Politico reports, as the organization that runs it, the Universal Service Administrative Company, has revamped the application portal; and anytime you hear the phrase “revamped the application portal,” you know it’s a technical mess.


From the Times Higher Education by way of Inside Higher Ed: “Poll of faculty members and administrators in British higher education finds they want their country to remain in E.U.”

Tony Bates looks at “Brexit and online learning in Europe.”

Academies in the UK

The plan to convert all schools in England to academies could cost some £1.3 billion, the Labour Party contends.

Lord David Willetts, a proponent, among other things, of privatizing the British National Health Plan, has joined 2U as a strategic advisor.

Charter Schools in the US

Via The Washington Post: “ Obama administration goes ahead with $71 million grant for Ohio’s scandal-ridden charter sector – but calls it ‘high risk’.”


Via Education Week: “The founder and former CEO of an online public school that educates thousands of Pennsylvania students pleaded guilty Wednesday to federal tax fraud, acknowledging he siphoned more than $8 million from The Pennsylvania Cyber Charter School through for-profit and nonprofit companies he controlled.” The CEO in question: Nicholas Trombetta.

Via the Chiago Sun Times: “A suburban father and son accused in 2014 of scamming public school districts out of millions – only to post diamonds and rubies to get out of jail – pleaded guilty Tuesday to mail fraud. Jowhar Soultanali, 61, of Morton Grove, and his son, Kabir Kassam, 37, of Wheeling, each face a maximum of 20 years in prison after admitting to U.S. District Judge James Zagel they broke the law. An attorney also entered guilty pleas for the pair’s Niles-based tutoring businesses, Brilliance Academy Inc. and Babbage Net School Inc.”

“Open” Initiatives

The School Library Journal scrutinizes the Open eBooks app recently released as part of the Obama Administration’s ConnectED Initiative. In a nutshell: it “needs work.” There are problems with accessibility and eligibility and plenty of “front-end bugs.”

Ed-Tech and Ed-Reform

The Pacific Standard looks at “The Right’s Opposition to Federal Education Reform.” (Or at least, to the Common Core.)

Texas can breathe a sigh of relief – and really, considering Texas’ role in textbooks, everyone can – after Mary Lou Bruner lost her bid for a seat on the Texas State Board of Education. Among Bruner’s beliefs: “President Barack Obama is a gay prostitute, climate change is a hoax concocted by Karl Marx and that Obama’s health care overhaul was an orchestrated plot to wipe 200 million people from the U.S. population. She also wrote that the flood from the biblical story of Noah’s Ark is what destroyed the dinosaurs, not a meteor as ‘concocted’ by atheists.” But yes please, Fordham Institute. Tell us more about the dangers of Black Lives Matter activists getting involved in education politics.

The New York Times on recent resolutions by the NAACP and by the Movement for Black Lives: “Condemnation of Charter Schools Exposes a Rift Over Black Students.”

When the venture philanthropy organization NewSchools Venture Fund held its annual meeting this spring, equity and structural racism were central to the message, and the event included many educators and education reformers of color on its speaking roster and in its audience. The Fordham Institute’s Robert Pondiscio described the event’s diversity as “The Left’s drive to push conservatives out of education reform.” Marilyn Anderson Rhames, who works at a charter school, replied with “An Open Letter to White Conservative Education Reformers.”

Not agreeing with every aspect of the left’s social agenda doesn’t make you appear as racists or bigots, as your post fears. However, deciding to cut ties with fellow reform-minded leaders who might look and think differently than you certainly will. When people of color who have worked long and hard finally get invited to a seat at the table, you probably shouldn’t get up and leave.

You call me a “social justice warrior” as if it’s a bad thing, as if the gospel of Christ doesn’t compel one to advocate on behalf of the poor, the widowed, the fatherless and the oppressed.

And where will you go, anyway? Are you longing for the good old days when the NewSchools Summit was an exclusive education reform country club? Is that really how you want to lead your urban education reform venture?

Via Education Week: “Maine Gov. Paul LePage has called for a review of his state’s groundbreaking 1-to–1 student computing initiative, highlighting the growing pains nagging an educational-technology movement now well into its second decade.”

Via Slate: “DeRay Mckesson Isn’t Baltimore’s Black Lives Matter Candidate. He’s its education-reform candidate. And that’s a lot more controversial.”

Via Politico: “The NAACP is set to vote this weekend on a controversial resolution calling for a halt to charter school expansion.”

From the organization’s press release: the NAACP “ratified a resolution Saturday adopted by delegates at its 2016 107th National Convention calling for a moratorium on charter school expansion and for the strengthening of oversight in governance and practice.” Education reformers lost their minds, shed many white tears. “Charter backers can stop the NAACP moratorium – by meeting these four demands” by Adrienne Dixson and Andre Perry.

State Education Politics

Via The Chicago Tribune: “Gov. Bruce Rauner once told some of Chicago’s wealthiest and most influential civic leaders that half of Chicago Public Schools’ teachers ‘are virtually illiterate’ and half of the city’s principals are ‘incompetent,’ according to emails Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s administration released Thursday under a court order.”

Via the Times-Picayune: “Texan who called Obama a gay prostitute might soon control textbooks.” Mary Lou Bruner, the Texan in question here, will face a run-off election in May to see if she can join the powerful Texas State Board of Education.

The Politics of Testing

Via AZ Central: “Legislation that would make Arizona the first in the nation to adopt a ‘menu’ of standardized tests gained final approval in the Senate on Monday afternoon and now heads to Gov. Doug Ducey’s desk ready to sign.”

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

Immigration and Education

“While federal DREAM Act stalls, some public universities already welcome the undocumented,” The Hechinger Report reports. “But dramatic differences among states also block some immigrants from higher educations.”

Audrey Watters


Top Ed-Tech Trends of 2016

A Hack Education Project

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