The social media platform TikTok is making a move on the online education market. The Chinese tech giant announced plans to invest $14 million in its new #LearnOnTikTok platform. The company is commissioning content from hundreds of leading experts and institutions. The videos will follow TikTok’s hallmark format: short, snappy, and engaging. The company hopes to translate the brand’s reputation for “snack-sized entertainment” into a bustling business of “microlearning.” —L.E.
The coronavirus stimulus package Congress passed in March instructed states to apportion the funds for its public and private schools “in the same manner as” federal Title I dollars for low-income students. Local districts regularly split those funds with private schools within their boundaries using a standard mathematic formula based on the number of qualifying students in both types of schools.
But in April, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos directed states to use a different formula for coronavirus funds that counted all private school students but only Title I public school students. Many states complained the change would skew aid in favor of private schools. In Louisiana, for example, the new formula would give private schools in Orleans Parish 77 percent of the city’s funding allotment.
Last week’s rule allows public school districts to use the standard formula as long as they direct their share of the funds to only buildings that have about 35 percent or more low-income students. That leaves out many schools and districts.
State and local education officials, as well as Congress, expressed dissatisfaction with the final rule. House Education Committee Chairman Bobby Scott, D-Va., argued that DeVos did not follow the law as it was enacted.
“The department should be providing clear leadership and guidance to help students, parents, and school districts cope with the impact of the pandemic,” he said. “Instead, it has issued another confusing directive that will undermine efforts to maintain access to education.”
The rule is effective immediately, but the Education Department will open it up for 30 days of public feedback. A legal challenge could develop, or DeVos could rescind the rule. But school officials likely can’t wait much longer to distribute the funds. —Laura Edghill