January 16, 2020

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Kansas City Education News

Missouri Education News

MU dumping Confucius Institute because kids can’t be alone with Chinese nationals

BY MARÁ ROSE WILLIAMS, KC Star

The University of Missouri is closing its Chinese government-funded Confucius Institute. Mandarin classes taught to Columbia public school children by teaching interns from China will stop at the end of the school year.

MU announced Wednesday that it is terminating its contract with the Confucius Institute, effective in August, because of “changes in guidance from the U.S. Department of State,” which has expressed concern over Chinese intelligence operatives. Dozens of the institutes were embedded within universities and public schools to offer U.S. students Mandarin language classes. KU and MU have said they intend to continue supporting Mandarin programs for K-12 students. A free Chinese language course offered at MU, but not for college credit, will be halted. The feds, in a letter to the university in July, said MU’s Confucius Institute teaching interns, who are Chinese nationals, could not be left alone in a classroom with grade school children. Having a full-time teacher who speaks no Mandarin in the room, the letter said, was no help “because they cannot evaluate the substance or quality of information” being shared with the schoolchildren. So the institute will close.

National Education News

FETC 2020: District shares tips, benefits for launching student-run IT help desk

A student technology internship program made a 1:1 tech transformation in New York’s Webster Central School District possible while giving students valuable skills and practical experience.

By Roger Riddell, EducationDive

In a Tuesday afternoon session at the Future of Education Technology Conference, Brian Zimmer and Joe Montemaro, both directors of educational technology for New York’s Webster Central School District, shared how they supported a 1:1 initiative by placing students in support roles. While this sort of initiative gives schools and districts the benefit of additional support for existing IT staff without necessitating new hires, its true benefit lies in valuable practical experience that students can add to their resumés. “One of the things we’re finding is it’s empowering kids,” said Zimmer (pictured above), noting that they see former students who are now running student technology help desks at universities. Many are also pursuing related career paths.

Texas district loses $2.3M to phishing scam

By Shawna De La Rosa, EducationDive

  • Manor Independent School District in Texas lost $2.3 million in an email phishing scam, according to a district press release.
  • Three separate transactions occurred in November, which a district employee discovered and reported in December, according to a report by CBS Austin.​

While schools are increasingly becoming victim to cybercrime, scams involving this large amount of money is not something Doug Levin, a K-12 cybersecurity expert, said he “sees everyday.” However, Levin points out that the nature of this specific phishing attack “has been repeated at school districts across the country and has been ongoing for years.”

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