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ETCH Weekend Reading 10/22/23
Employer-sponsored emergency day care, a database of districts' math curriculum choices, no more human cadavers in anatomy class, and more
No announcements from me this week, though I am starting to think about my annual end-of-the-year trends post (2021 parts 1 and 2, 2022). If you have thoughts on how this year has gone and/or how next year might go, I am all ears!
On to the update.
Funding / M&A
Sidebar raises $13.55M / US, Peer Mentorship / Foundation Capital, Scribble Ventures
Poppins raises €8M / France, Special Education / Eurazeo, Verve Ventures, Allianz France, HEC Ventures
Rocket Tutor raises €1M / Germany, Tutoring / Better Ventures, Caesar Ventures
Pack raises €500K / Italy, Corporate Mentorship / Techstars
Crafty Workshop raises $400K / Egypt, Consumer Upskilling Platform / EdVentures
Tim Mathison joins SchoolStatus as CFO. / via PRNewswire
Denise Henderson joins Edcetera as Chief Revenue Officer. / via PRNewswire
UPS expands emergency use daycare after pilot program cuts turnover. Unclear if this is a one-off, or a sign that employers will step in to fill the childcare funding gap as federal stimulus dollars run out. / via HR Dive
Database of math curriculum materials used by 934 US school districts (representing 52% of the US K12 student populations). Data like this is incredibly hard to come by and will be fought over viciously by the publishers. Its proliferation across other subjects (which the database’s author, the Center for Education Market Dynamics, would like to do) could produce some wild and rapid swings in how course materials get adopted. / via Education Week
Free school lunch(ables). It is hard not to have a poor reaction to this, even when you read that the qualifying Lunchables products have been “re-formulated” to meet school lunch standards. It is also hard to know what to do without a common understanding of what “good food at K12-system scale” is. (Michelle Obama does not get enough credit for her work to rectify this.) / via Washington Post
Virginia launches statewide tutoring initiative. There has been a lot of (earned) negative attention on the tutoring space this year, as we unravel how COVID money was spent. It is nice to see a positive story about a program launch to balance things out. / via 74Million
Similarly, virtual tutoring can work in the right scenarios. We use the word “tutoring” generically, but the implementation of tutoring services - of any type - shouldn’t be. This puts a higher burden on school administrators/purchasers, but I am hopeful we will see more mixing and matching of tutoring modalities and price points to serve students. / via 74Million
The Biden administration still hasn’t defined its K12 agenda. Why? You can agree or disagree with the policy and/or execution, but I feel like spending $120B+ to help schools survive and (attempt to) re-calibrate post-COVID counts as an agenda. A strange article, but I include it here as an example of one of the many different angles the Education Department is managing heading into an election year. / via Education Week
Related, Education Department to continue auditing pandemic aid expenditures into 2025 (and possibly beyond). / via K12 Dive
Also related, Education groups press ED on FAFSA release date. / via Higher Ed Dive
Also also related, US Education Department awards $13M in grants to 34 universities to establish childcare centers for student parents. / via US Department of Education
Also also also related, Biden Administration takes second swing at mass student loan cancellation. / via Higher Ed Dive
By requiring training and putting companies on the hook financially, Utah gets the most out of its EdTech spending. This seems like a good idea for other states too, no notes. / via Hechinger Report
Common Sense Media report on how teens are using cellphones. / via Common Sense Media
For English class, we’re going fly fishing. Just a great story about a very real, standards-aligned fly fishing and English elective for high school students in Maine. / via K12 Dive
The consolidation of state university systems continues with the (newly named) Universities of Wisconsin. What I have yet to see (publicly) from Wisconsin, Vermont, or Pennsylvania is their rationalization for the physical campuses that remain. The question needs to change from “why are enrollments falling?” to “What can we do here, in-person that is demonstrably better than what students could get online?” / via Inside Higher Ed
The University of Sheffield Medical School will no longer use human cadavers for anatomy training. Instead, the school will use a combination of VR, videos, and ultrasound to train their doctors. This is not the norm - 34 of the 39 UK medical schools still use human cadavers. But it is sort of wild that technology has come so far we can consider the option. / via Times Higher Education
Inside HLC’s new effort to vet outside credential providers. The key question - still to be defined - is how the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) will define quality in the absence of many of the things traditional accreditors use to assess degree programs. / via Higher Ed Dive
California raises minimum wage for healthcare workers to $25/hour. Seems important! I don’t think I’ve seen a government-set minimum wage for a specific vocation before (please let me know if you have any examples). / via HR Dive
For all its foibles, at least the “robber baron” period of income disparity produced many educational institutions that have stood the test of time - Vanderbilt, Carnegie Mellon, Stanford, Duke, and University of Chicago. Today’s business leader would, apparently, prefer to be LinkedIn influencers and the new crop of hyped “universities” are from jabronis like Andrew Tate. / via Financial Times and Times Higher Education
GPTZero partners with the American Federation of Teachers (AFT). I have never seen a deal like this before - it sounds like all AFT members will get tailored access to the tool. Partnerships like this are very hard to pull off, in both initial design and execution. But, similar(ish) to startups that work in concert with big publishers, they can make a big difference in resource allocation and company-building strategy. / via CBS News
Google gets into language learning. As Duolingo CEO Luis Von Ahn has pointed out, the 2 billion(!) people on earth learning a language (page 6) comprise one of the largest markets out there. Still, it is surprising to see the Google team release a consumer education product. My intuition is that this is more about the company showcasing its AI capabilities than a concerted effort to build a consumer education arm. / via Techcrunch
Another perspective on astrology at work. Not a headline I had on my future-of-work reporting bingo card, but *shrug* / via HR Dive
This email, ETCH Weekend Reading, is ETCH’s free newsletter providing links to the week’s EdTech Funding, M&A, People moves, and a curated list of Links to relevant industry news. If you enjoyed this edition, I hope you will subscribe and/or forward to your friends!
As is hopefully clear from this newsletter, I spend a lot of my time reading. Often, this starts with articles about EdTech, but it usually also includes between 1 and 4 books.
Should you find yourself looking for a good book (both education and general interest), you can see many of my favorites here!
Also, if you have any book recommendations, I’d love to hear them!
Activity of the Week
This week I have a challenge for you all - try out Antimatter’s new “Sorcerer” tool, which will quiz you on any topic you can think of. Below, you can see my efforts to ace the test on the “Benefits and Drawbacks of Attending College in the US with High Tuitions Costs” and “Pyranean Mastiffs.” (You can also test one designed for AP US History students here.)
Note: I have no affiliation with Antimatter, I just think this is fun tool