What are the next steps to defend K-12 schools from cyberattacks?

Education has been dealt a difficult hand over the past several years. The mass shift to virtual schooling during the pandemic upended systems in so many ways, and it shone a light on the aging infrastructure and technical deficits so many school districts struggle with. Not only did children and teachers have to be more flexible and resilient than ever, but districts also have been hammered by ransomware and other cyberattacks.

At the same time, schools aren’t always getting the right guidance for dealing with the increased cybersecurity threats. A Government Accountability Office (GAO) report released late last year found that the U.S. Department of Education’s current plan for addressing K-12 school threats needed updating and was primarily focused on mitigating physical threats. And that plan was issued in 2010–in terms of cybersecurity, that might as well be eons ago.

So, what should education IT leaders be doing? And what should they be on the lookout for?…Read More

Fewer disabled students enroll in charter schools

Overall, there were lower rates of special-education enrollment at charter schools in all but eight states.

As the number of charter schools expands nationwide, one group of students that is enrolling in those schools at a lower rate is children with disabilities.

Eight percent of students at charter schools had disabilities in the 2009-10 school year, compared with 11 percent at traditional public schools, according to a Government Accountability Office report being released June 20.…Read More

GAO report: Too little competition in wireless market

According to a government report released Aug. 26, consolidation over the past decade has left just four big carriers in control of 90 percent of the wireless market, making it harder for small and regional companies to compete, reports the Associated Press. The study by the Government Accountability Office, the investigative arm of Congress, could help fuel the FCC’s recent efforts to increase oversight of the wireless industry. The FCC is currently considering rules that would require wireless phone companies to alert consumers before they reach roaming or data usage limits on their wireless plans. It has also been looking into common industry practices such as charging consumers early termination fees to break a service contract before it expires. The GAO study found that despite the industry consolidation, consumers are benefiting from better wireless coverage and prices that are half what they were in 1999. It also says that nearly 40 percent of U.S. households rely on a cell phone as a primary phone. Although the GAO reached no firm conclusion on the causes of limited competition in the wireless sector, it does list a number of factors regularly cited by smaller carriers and consumer groups. Those include early termination fees and handset exclusivity deals such as AT&T Inc.’s contract with Apple Inc. to serve as the sole U.S. carrier for the iPhone…

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For-profit colleges face more scrutiny in new report

Enrollment at for-profit colleges has climbed to 1.8 million in recent years.
Enrollment at for-profit colleges has climbed to 1.8 million in recent years.

A government report released Aug. 4 details “fraudulent” practices among recruiters for some for-profit colleges, and public criticism of the popular institutions has mounted as recent statistics show that at least one for-profit university received $1 billion in federal Pell Grants during the 2009-10 academic year.

Investigators from the Government Accountability Office (GAO) posed as college students and found that four out of 15 institutions they examined “encouraged fraudulent practices” to secure federal student loans, and representatives from all 15 colleges “made deceptive or otherwise questionable statements” to the undercover students, according to a report published on the GAO’s web site.…Read More