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Boosting Attendance In Preschool Can Start With A Knock On The Door

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There’s a lot of attention right now on improving attendance in schools — making sure kids don’t miss too many days. But what about the littlest students — those 3 and 4 years old? New research shows that if kids miss a lot of preschool, they’re way more likely to have problems in kindergarten or later on.

Researchers and many top preschool programs are focusing on one solution as a way of getting pre-K attendance up: Home visits at the beginning of the year, before kids start missing and before parents have a chance to feel skeptical about the school.

“No parent or family member wants the first contact to be, ‘Hey, you need to come to school for a parent meeting and it needs to happen now,’ ” says Rachel Wessler, a teacher at Burrville Elementary School in northeast Washington, D.C. Wessler trains other teachers at Burrville to do home visits, which are a big part of the school’s overall strategy.

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Education

4 Myths About School Bullying And The ‘Trump Effect’

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On Thursday, Hillary Clinton packaged a major new school policy proposal as an attack on her rival, Donald Trump.

“Donald Trump has made no apologies to the growing list of people that he has attempted to bully since the launch of his hate-filled campaign,” read the press release from the Clinton campaign about a new $500 million initiative called “Better than Bullying.”

In order to get the money, states would have to pass comprehensive anti-bullying laws and form plans to use school-based interventions like social and emotional learning curricula, or hiring more school counselors.

Under the proposal, the federal government would help pay for those programs by contributing $4 for every $1 put up by states.

The emotional resonance is clear. But how good is the evidence for calling bullying an “urgent crisis,” as the Democratic nominee’s campaign did? Never mind blaming a presidential candidate for a day-to-day increase in bullying?

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Education

After 25 Years, What’s Next For Charter Schools?

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The major advocacy group for charter schools is meeting this week in Nashville, Tenn., and there’s lots to celebrate.

What began with a single state law in Minnesota has spread to a national movement of nearly 6,800 schools, serving just under 3 million students.

But at its annual meeting, the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools is also using the moment to call for a fresh look at how these innovative public schools are managed and how they’re held accountable.

Among the concerns is whether the failure rate of online charter schools is hurting the credibility of the movement in general.

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Education

The Civil Rights Problem In U.S. Schools: 10 New Numbers

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LA Johnson/NPR

It’s a rare and remarkable view into America’s public schools and the challenges that continue some 60 years after Brown v. Board of Education:

The Civil Rights Data Collection survey.

Since 1968, the federal government has been sending it to the nation’s schools to gauge educational access and enforce civil rights law.

Today, the U.S. Education Department released its 2013-2014 CRDC results, covering more than 95,000 schools and 50 million students.

There’s a lot to wade through, but these are some of the numbers that jumped out at us (links are to previous NPR coverage).

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Education

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

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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

Don’t Wait For An Act Of Congress’: Union Chief On Politics And Testing

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Lily Eskelsen Garcia is the first Latina to run the NEA.

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Before we can even be seated in the Midtown cafe where we meet, Lily Eskelsen Garcia has begun her barrage of plainspoken, provocative opinions. A Democratic superdelegate, she’s just come from a spot on a morning news show, where, she declared, “Hillary is winning no matter how you look at it.”

Garcia started her education career as a lunch lady. Today, as president of the National Education Association, she represents 3 million classroom teachers, plus support staff like school bus drivers, classroom aides and substitutes. The NEA has 200,000 members who work on university campuses as well, for an overall membership that makes it the largest single organization in the shrinking category of organized labor, once a stalwart of political power within the Democratic Party.

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