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Getting Students With Autism Through High School, To College And Beyond

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Colin Ozeki, a high school student with autism, is on track to graduate this year from Millennium Brooklyn High School with an advanced diploma.

Amy Pearl/WNYC

Colin Ozeki, 16, doesn’t like to sugarcoat how autism spectrum disorder has affected his interactions with others, his emotions and his own self-confidence. He sees it as an issue to confront, something about himself to work on and improve in order to fully participate in life around him.

He appreciates the adage, “It’s a difference, not a disability.” But he disagrees with it when it comes to himself.

“I don’t think I would be at this place that I’m at right now if it weren’t for people acknowledging the idea that I had some kind of problem per se,” says Colin. “I might have just been this confused person forever, and somewhat underdeveloped.”

We know a lot more about children with autism spectrum disorders than we did just a decade ago, but nationwide students with autism are enrolling in college in relatively low numbers.

Colin, now a senior at Millennium Brooklyn High School, has been part of a program in the New York City schools aiming to change that. It’s called ASD Nest (ASD refers to students with autism spectrum disorder) and he’s been with it his entire school career.

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Education

What Former Employees Say ITT Tech Did To Scam Its Students

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Chelsea Beck/NPR

When he first moved to Miami, Waltter Teruel says, working as a recruiter for ITT Technical Institute was a welcome change from his life in New York where he had been selling antiques and life insurance.

As a recruiter, Teruel says, ITT Tech took care of the pitch to potential students for you. Recruiters used scripts set out in detailed PowerPoint presentations and got long lists of prospective students to call. But soon the welcome change faded. “Most of these students, they were looking for a job,” not more school, says Teruel.

When ITT Technical Institute closed, employees began to share tightly designed sales tools, like those PowerPoints, that offered a glimpse into the strategy that helped the company grow to more than 130 campuses across the country.

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Education

How A Happy School Can Help Students Succeed

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Every day at Weiner Elementary School starts with a dance party, usually to Best Day of My Life by American Authors — and that’s before the 7:50 a.m. bell even rings.

Then comes the morning assembly, where all 121 students and the staff gather for 20 minutes in the cafeteria of the school in Weiner, Ark. They sing songs and learn about an artist, a musician and an international city of the week.

They celebrate birthdays. A lucky student is crowned Student of the Day. And Pam Hogue makes it her goal to be an educator instead of a principal.

That assembly — and the many other things this school does to create a sense of community and happiness — is part of what experts call school climate.

“It’s a feeling in a building,” Hogue explains. “When you walk in here, it just feels right. It looks like a place where learning is happening.”

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Education

After Nearly 2 Decades, Californians Revisit Ban On Bilingual Education

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Alice Callaghan watches as students practice their English at Las Familias Del Pueblos in Los Angeles.

Morgan Walker for NPR

Alice Callaghan has spent decades working with mostly Mexican and Guatemalan families out of a tiny office near Skid Row in downtown Los Angeles. It doubles as a school for a few dozen 4- and 5-year-olds.

After the Pledge of Allegiance, children scamper to their seats to work on phonics exercises, blended words, vocabulary and reciting classroom rules. Not a word in Spanish is spoken, heard or written on the posters and word puzzles hanging on the walls, and many of the children’s names have been anglicized.

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Education

As Feds Crack Down On For-Profit College, A Founder Heads To Prison For Fraud

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Fanatic Studio/Getty Images

A federal judge’s ruling in Florida has brought a new development in the various government investigations of the for-profit college industry: prison time for the school’s founder.

Alejandro Amor, the founder of a college called FastTrain in South Florida, was sentenced last week to eight years in federal prison for fraud.

Court papers say FastTrain, which closed down in 2012, engaged in deceptive advertising and pressure tactics, such as hiring former strippers to recruit for the school. Investigators found that the company forged signatures, enrolling people who were not qualified for college and more than 1,000 students who hadn’t even finished high school. The school had collected some $35 million in student loans and federal financial aid. The judge’s ruling concluded that millions of dollars of that money had effectively been stolen.

Amor’s lawyer had argued that rogue employees were responsible for the fraud. Three former employees had earlier been convicted.

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Education

There Is No FDA For Education. Maybe There Should Be

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Has American education research mostly languished in an echo chamber for much of the last half century?

Harvard’s Thomas Kane thinks so.

Why have the medical and pharmaceutical industries and Silicon Valley all created clear paths to turn top research into game-changing innovations, he asks, while education research mostly remains trapped in glossy journals?

Kane, a professor of education at Harvard’s Graduate School of Education, points out that there is no effective educational equivalent of the Food and Drug Administration, where medical research is rigorously vetted and translated into solutions. Maybe, he says, there should be.

It’s been 50 years since the publication of the highly influential Equality of Educational Opportunity” study — better known as the Coleman Report, after its author, James Coleman. And after a half-century, Kane writes in a new article, we should have made much more progress toward closing the achievement gap: the educational equivalent of the fight against cancer.

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