AltSchool Joins Tech Companies Filing Brief Against Trump Immigration Order

By Benjamin Herold — February 06, 2017 2 min read
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Ninety-seven leading technology companies filed a brief Sunday night contesting the legality of President Donald Trump’s controversial executive order to temporarily halt admission of refugees and ban individuals from seven majority-Muslim nations from entering the United States.

Among the signatories to the amicus brief were Apple, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Pinterest and Twitter—some of the largest names in technology industry, each of whom also have a significant presence in K-12 schools and among K-12 educators.

AltSchool, a San Francisco-based educational technology company that runs its own network of private schools, also signed on to the brief, as did General Assembly, a New York-based company that has provided informal education and career training to tens of thousands of participants.

In the filing, the companies argue that the Trump administration’s executive order violates the Constitution and U.S. immigration laws, will inhibit innovation, and will harm the competitiveness of U.S. companies.

“The Order makes it more difficult and expensive for U.S. companies to recruit, hire and retain some of the world’s best employees. It disrupts ongoing business operations. And it threatens companies’ ability to attract talent, business, and investment to the United States,” the brief reads.

Trump signed the executive order on January 27. Confusion, legal challenges, and mass protests immediately ensued. On Friday, a federal district court in Seattle blocked the order nationwide, and a federal appeals court on Sunday denied a request from the U.S. Justice Department to immediately restore the travel restrictions.

Silicon Valley at large has begun aggressively contesting the Trump administration, with high-profile leaders saying they don’t support the immigration order and thousands of employees at Google staging a walkout in protest of the administration.

The involvement of ed-tech companies has varied.

AltSchool was the only primarily K-12-focused company to sign the amicus brief. And some prominent figures in the ed-tech sector have been mostly quiet on the subject. For example, Sal Khan, the founder and head of the nonprofit Khan Academy, declined a request for an interview via a spokeswoman.

A few CEO’s, though, have spoken out. Last Monday, for example, Tyler Bosmeny, the co-founder and CEO of San Francisco-based Clever, took to Twitter to react to the travel ban:

Ayah Bdeir, the CEO of New York City-based LittleBits, also spoke last month with Education Week about the challenges she believes the Trump administration will present to her company.

And like Bdeir, AltSchool CEO Max Ventilla signed a letter last summer denouncing then-candidate Trump. In a written statement provided to Education Week in December, Ventilla described his hopes for a renewed federal focus on innovation:

“My hope for any administration is that they promote significant change without getting rid of what works, especially without sufficient understanding for why it’s there,” Ventilla wrote.

“Education reform should partner education domain experts with innovators who can create and implement new, but informed, advances.”

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A version of this news article first appeared in the Digital Education blog.