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ETCH Weekend Reading 9/10
Week of 9/5 - 9/8
Even a short week here in the US still somehow produces a whole lot of news. No major announcements from me, but you may notice a few changes over the next ~month. I hope you’ll bear with me as I test out a few new things.
On to the links!
Funding / M&A
Ello raises $15M / US, Literacy / Goodwater Capital, Common Sense Growth, Homebrew, Ravensburger, Y Combinator, WndrCo, Reach Capital, Visible Ventures, Khosla Ventures
PowerSchool acquires Neverskip / US, Software Infrastructure
Firstcard raises $4.7M / US, Financial Services / AngelList Early Stage Quant Fund, CyberAgent Capital, East Ventures
Mezure Learning acquires Examity / US, Proctoring + Assessment
Mentra raises $3.5M / US, Talent Management / Hydrazine Capital, Shine Capital, Verissimo, Full Circle, Charlotte Fund
Athena Alliance raises $2.5M / US, Professional Networking / Leonas Capital
Koios raises $550K / UK, Assessments / Seedcamp, Evolvient Ventures
SkillArbitrage acquires Dataisgood for $3M / India, Upskilling
Balraj Kalsi joins CORE Higher Education as CEO / via PRNewswire
Kevin Watson joins Barnes & Noble Education as CFO / via businesswire
Greg Pryor joins Guild Education as SVP of Learning / via businesswire
EDTECH WEEK 2023, co-produced by Catalyst @ Penn GSE and StartEd
As a new dad and self-employed newsletter writer/entrepreneur, I have to choose my education events carefully - EdTech Week 2023 is 1 of just 3 I’m traveling to this year. And it is just around the corner - from October 2-5 in New York City. I hope you’ll join me to connect with other folks who share a passion for edtech from around the world!
This year brings an exciting addition: the Milken-Penn GSE Education Business Plan Competition, which will feature seven startups leveraging artificial intelligence, popular television, real-time data, and more to promote literacy, social-emotional learning, and equitable access to education. Hear their pitches as they compete for over $250k in cash and prizes (including an Audience Choice prize winner).
Tickets for in-person attendance (as well as free virtual registration for the Milken-Penn GSE competition on October 4th) are available here: https://bit.ly/etw-tickets. You can use code UPenn20OFF for 20% off in-person registration!
Also, if you’re an education entrepreneur, make sure you apply to showcase your product / service at the Gallery of Innovation, which will draw K-12 district leaders, investors, and fellow innovators! Don't wait—the application closes this Friday (9/15).
With EDTECH WEEK 2023 officially only a few weeks away, now is the time to register, apply, and book your hotel/Airbnb/hacker house/college friend’s couch. I look forward to seeing you there!
Lucy Calkins goes on sabbatical and her reading and writing center at Columbia Teacher’s College will be shut down. It’s been a wild year for the science of reading, culminating (probably?) in this. / via Education Week
Probably related, NYC schools reimagine reading this fall to fix dismal literacy rates / via New York Times
Tangentially related, the strange success of the Tories’ schools policy. / via Economist
Paper’s tough year continues. Hundreds of Las Vegas and Tampa area schools drop Paper’s online tutoring. / via Chalkbeat
EdTech companies are racing to build Github Copilot for teachers. This will not be easy. Dan’s points add important nuance to the conversation. I am slightly more bullish that faster and cheaper LLM-enabled development might lead to interesting instructor tools in areas where a small TAM previously prevented apps from raising money / being developed. / shoutoutof
“They begged, bargained with, and berated their instructor in pursuit of better grades — not “because they like points,” but rather, “because the education system has told them that these points are the currency with which they can buy a successful future.”” The big problem with grades. / via Washington Post
53% of California parents are interested in extending the school year. Changes to the core structure of the US school year may be closer than we think! / via Yahoo Finance
Largely because it is so darn hot…everywhere. Extreme heat is cutting into recess for kids. / via NPR
Back-to-school data from Clever, Curriculum Associates, and Common Sense. / via eschoolnews
Virtual reality is the next frontier of the school choice movement. Sort of weird to have VR put in the center of what will be *the* education issue of the 2024 election cycle; I’m not sure whether it is helpful or hurtful to broader adoption. / via the New Yorker
Improbably, the Financial Times offers their own, less explicitly political take on the same subject. / via Financial Times
Not VR, but close. Atari and Chuck E Cheese founder starts educational gaming company. / via VentureBeat
When affordable housing is scarce, so are educators. / via EdSurge
Why Discovery Education bought Dreambox Learning. I appreciate the straightforwardness of this explanation. / via Education Week
The math revolution you haven’t heard about. Setting aside the “Math Wars”, it is important to keep an eye on new, more engaging and/or technology-enabled strategies for teaching old course topics like calculus. / via EdSurge
Feed the kids! 60% of US adults support giving free lunch at schools, and 57% support breakfast. / via Chalkbeat
Related, let the kids sleep in! The American school day is starting to move later. / via Economist
Why are Vietnam’s schools so good? / via Economist
Americans are losing faith in the value of college. Whose fault is that? For the past 200 years we have been increasing the amount of education young people go through to (try to) match the increasing complexity of the world. Traditional universities are not the end-all, and be-all, but I worry for the young people who are pushed out of this cycle. / via New York Times
Semi-related, 4 Providence, RI colleges will pay the city $200M in lieu of being taxed. Universities everywhere are re-evaluating their position with students, with faculty/staff, and with their local communities. / via Inside Higher Ed
As new University of Florida President (and former US Senator) Ben Sasse is quickly finding out, navigating demands from students, faculty, and the Florida legislature that provides the majority of his budget. New York Times profile of new University of Florida President Ben Sasse. / via New York Times
Related, Florida public universities approve SAT competitor Classical Learning Test for admissions consideration. / via New York Times
Speaking of knowing your customer, West Virginia University’s faculty vote 797 to 100 “no confidence” in President Gordon Gee (after he outlined $45M in budget cuts). The WVU board continues to support Gee. / via Chronicle of Higher Education
This is not entirely fair; you can’t run a university if all your faculty leave. In a survey of faculty in Florida, Georgia, Texas, and North Carolina, ~half of Florida faculty are looking for jobs out of state. / via Higher Ed Dive
All is not lost though. A few small colleges are finding ways to grow. / via Inside Higher Ed
One business that benefits from all the turmoil in higher ed? The university rankings industrial complex. As Groucho Marx once said, “I don’t like any rankings list that doesn’t have my alma mater at the top.1” / via Wall Street Journal
Make student loans work for students (not schools). I am coming around to this idea. / via Bloomberg Opinion
Related, 4 million enroll in President Biden’s new income-driven repayment plan. / via Washington Post
Related, Phil Hill is not quite as optimistic. I’d like to know how much of the $100M+ allocated to Calbright has been spent before assessing. (it is possible this exists, but I have not seen it.) / via On EdTech
There is a new labor movement emerging across the US. NFL running backs may be the face of it today, but I think we will see some new faces and models emerge too. / via the Free Press
Bright Horizons gets into college-consulting-as-a-benefit. Joining a small, but growing, cadre of companies offering the service. / via Hechinger Report
California Governor Gavin Newsome signs “master plan” for career education. The central thesis is to build more “connective tissue” between the different agencies and vendors that facilitate workforce development in the state. / via Edsource
This email, EdTech Thoughts Weekend Reading, is the free sister publication of the EdTech Thoughts Weekly Update. It provides 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!
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