Billionaires, follow Bloomberg

Bloomberg has given $1.8 billion to his alma mater with the idea that the school will never have to prevent a low-income student from entry again.

Johns Hopkins will be able to use the donation to increase the amount of grant money for low-income students, eliminate loans as financial aid and supply relief to current students who have federal loans, according to The Post.

The university will begin advertising that it will not consider applicants’ financial circumstances and that it will meet whatever financial needs an admitted student has without including loans in the aid package.

Ultimately, Bloomberg gave money to my own school (Princeton) to create a new dorm, which was fine (I lived there, it was pretty), but these sorts of donations are much more impactful. Hopefully future donors learn and move away from vanity projects and towards supporting students who need it.

Ripples from the Blue Wave

No matter what TV tells you, it really was a “blue wave” last week. Betsy DeVos is still in charge and transparently trying to help her friends make money, but the states have decided they want no part of her management, and the power is changing hands.

But what’s actually going to happen?

“A lot of people were saying nice things about public education, but you actually didn’t see much success by people who were putting forth specific agendas,” he said. “The real test is going to be whether all these folks … are going to follow through.”

It seems likely that public education will finally see some political support, after decades as an afterthought. But it’s going to take a while for dollars to end up in the hands of educators, and we should expect to operate under current constraints for longer than we might want.

A small portion of those who placed campaign bids won in the general election, but this year’s wave of activism — which, in turn, led to greater support for public school teachers — led to more candidates, Republicans and Democrats, discussing how to better serve their public schools, García said.

So, regardless of the small number of winners, the NEA president said “educators had a good night on election night.”

“They see this as their moment,” she said. “And I believe it is.”

Nevertheless, it’s been a good week for education, even if the impact will only be clear years down the road.


Some Updates on EdTech

People can argue back and forth over whether or not it’s a good thing, but companies are partnering with schools to essentially create certified employees. Take a look.

Now, however, employers are raising their stakes with courses designed to bolster the pipeline of new workers for their product or technology, specifically. Google, for example, is working with more than two dozen community colleges to offer credit for a five-course, online IT certification. It’s among several other companies, mostly in tech, doing so.

“Many of the employers who are doing credentialing are looking to have their credentials be part of pathways in education,” Jonathan Finkelstein, founder and CEO of digital credentialing platform Credly, told Education Dive. “Virtually every major tech company is thinking, ‘How do we reach people earlier in their career pathways so the credentials they offer become preparation for jobs?'”

We can debate the value of this, but there’s no debating its prominence if Google et al. are already on the path.

A word on Artificial Intelligence.

Where the technologies are being used for learning they are fundamentally changing the nature of instruction. Panelists discussed applications such as smart lecture-capture technology that gives students searchable video transcripts of lectures to study as well as simulated training in classroom interventions for aspiring teachers and virtual reality environments in which medical students can practice procedures.

As an outsider, that sounds cool and efficient. With any of this, I worry it will just increase inequity. We are rapidly reaching a point where all of this can be done. My question as always is how we can ensure that this development lifts the vulnerable instead of leaving them behind. But I don’t really know enough about the technology to say much more than that. Yet.


Mental Health on Campus

People laughed when reports came out that students were experiencing distress after the 2016 election, but, as it turns out, it was no laughing matter.

The research is showing that students are not more sensitive, but rather they are experiencing real trauma that needs to be addressed by the college community.

People like to call young people snowflakes, but trauma suppressed is trauma that isn’t addressed, and that helps no one.

With that said, here’s a caveat:

Even as more students seek mental health services, there often is still a gap between those receiving the services and those that need them. In particular, research has found that African-Americans are 20% more likely than other groups to experience severe mental health issues, yet only one-quarter seek mental health support. That’s compared to 40% of whites who do. A history of prejudice and discrimination in the health care system as well as socioeconomic factors that make treatment unaffordable for some are among the reasons for the discrepancy.

There’s also the cultural stigma against mental health treatment in communities of color, and it’s hurting so many people. I hope to read about how this has been successfully addressed a decade hence, but I’m not optimistic. At the very least, it’s being studied and discussed, which is better than the alternative.

States Taking Over the For-Profit Battle

DeVos and friends think for-profit schools are just fine, but the states don’t agree, and may yet be the death of these institutions.

Look at what NY is doing.

The New York DCA is among several local and state agencies shining a light on for-profit colleges amid widespread claims of predatory marketing and subpar graduation outcomes that spurred the Obama-era Education Department to tighten the regulations governing the sector.

Such instances are expected to increase as the Trump administration seeks to loosen regulatory oversight of the for-profit sector, according to The Hechinger Report, which cites the shutdown of the Charlotte School of Law by North Carolina’s attorney general after the Ed Department found it had misrepresented its accreditation and student outcomes.

Local and state power is going to be crucial in the fight for equitable education, since the federal government isn’t going to support those who need help.

Here’s hoping they succeed at tearing the industry into smaller and smaller pieces.