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Overcoming Challenges through Perseverance and the Arts

U.S. Department of Education Blog - 13 hours 41 min ago

Thomas Ledbetter creates inspirational artwork in his Studio and Media Art class to encourage students to consider the effects of bullying and to inspire hope. (Courtesy Thomas Ledbetter)

At age two, Thomas Ledbetter was diagnosed with Autism and was not expected to be able to speak; however, thanks to a great support system and an incredible amount of work on his part, he managed to overcome many of the obstacles in his life. Thomas experienced bullying throughout elementary and middle school and decided to channel these negative experiences and feelings into positive graphic design.

Thomas had this to say about his piece, “Everyone in this world is like a flower: biologically similar, but personally distinct and beautiful in [their] own way… However these flowers will sometimes go through experiences that will take away their personal happiness, joy.” Using this metaphor, Thomas hoped to create something that, “shed light on the complex and often emotionally ambiguous nature of bullying,” and something that would, “give people hope and help them embrace who they are despite the obstacles standing in their way.”

“I created my poster for my Studio in Media Art class. Many people have seen the printed copies of the poster I made in the hallways of the school and have told me how amazing they thought it was and asked me about what the art means. After explaining the message I wanted to convey, they said that they really liked the poster’s meaning and loved how inspiring and poignant it was. I’m glad to see that people understand the message I wanted to send and that they’re being inspired by my poster little by little.”

Thomas’ father, Tom Ledbetter, is a member of the local Board of Education and has been working to increase the surrounding community’s awareness of bullying and how it impacts students. He constantly advocates for, “more comprehensive policies that include educating students and staff about bullying prevention; that create effective counter measures to prevent bullying; and that include consequences that are appropriate, educational and effective deterrents to bullying.”

Thomas’ plans for the future include, “teaching others that people who have a disability [or a difference] are worth just as much as anyone else and that all people have value.” Most of all, he wants to help others overcome adversity and find joy and happiness in their lives.

“My dream job is to become a psychologist, more specifically a neuropsychologist, and even though I want to specialize in helping people with neurological disabilities, I want to be able to help anyone and everyone as a psychologist and give people the ability to see their own value and worth one small step at a time.”

The U.S. Department of Education (ED) is strongly committed to preventing bullying of all students, including the 6.75 million public school students with disabilities. ED’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) investigates and resolves complaints of disability discrimination at public schools. OCR recently issued guidance to public schools to help school officials understand their federal responsibilities to respond to bullying of students with disabilities. This guidance builds on anti-bullying guidance the U.S. Department of Education has issued in recent years concerning schools’ legal obligations to address bullying, including ensuring that students with disabilities who are bullied continue to receive a free appropriate public education. OCR issued a fact sheet for parents (available in Spanish) that addresses key points of the recent guidance and provides information on where to go for help. To learn more about federal civil rights laws or how to file a complaint, contact OCR at 800-421-3481 (TDD: 800-877-8339), or ocr@ed.gov.

Sarah Sisaye is with the Office of Safe and Healthy Students at the U.S. Department of Education.

Categories: Higher Education News

Sweet Briar’s Sudden Closure Plans Leave Students and Employees Scrambling

Chronicle of Higher Education - 17 hours 59 min ago

Other colleges offer to take in jettisoned students, but faculty and staff members fear being left without decent jobs, money, and even homes.

Categories: Higher Education News

What a Promise of Financial Aid Might Mean to a Middle Schooler

Chronicle of Higher Education - 17 hours 59 min ago

The path to college, a new paper emphasizes, starts in middle school—as does concern about how to pay for it.

Categories: Higher Education News

Just How Private Are College Students’ Campus Counseling Records?

Chronicle of Higher Education - 18 hours 7 sec ago

The U.S. Education Department has weighed in on, but not resolved, a dispute stemming from an alleged rape at the University of Oregon over the limits of students’ privacy protections.

Categories: Higher Education News

Audio: What 8th Graders Know About Paying for College

Chronicle of Higher Education - 18 hours 48 sec ago

A Chronicle reporter talked with a group of middle-school students from low-income families about the cost of higher education.


Categories: Higher Education News

Republican Governors' Shared Goals for Higher Ed: Accountability and Work-Force Preparation

Chronicle of Higher Education - 18 hours 49 sec ago

GOP leaders might not be on the same page when it comes to public-college funding, but most of them agree on some key ideas.

Categories: Higher Education News

Sweet Briar’s Demise Is a Cautionary Tale for Other Colleges

Chronicle of Higher Education - 18 hours 13 min ago

To avoid a similar fate, small colleges need to be hard-nosed about what works and what doesn’t, experts say.

Categories: Higher Education News

The Importance of Early Education for All

U.S. Department of Education Blog - March 4, 2015 - 12:00pm

It’s time for reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. There’s no doubt change is necessary to ensure our children’s civil rights to a high quality education. While the media has focused on the annual assessments mandated by NCLB as being key, I want to highlight another critical improvement needed: high-quality preschool.

We are a family that can speak to the benefits of high-quality preschool for every child. We have lived in the north, south, east, and west. Our whole lives have been about education and overcoming struggle and “the odds.”

(Photo courtesy LaToya Smith.)

I am an African American born to teenage parents thirty years ago in Michigan. Yet, now that I have my own children, I understand how fortunate I was to attend a Montessori program at age three and then preschool at my public elementary school at age four. Since then, excelling in school has been second nature to me. I was high school valedictorian and magna cum laude at a top major university.

I was nearly finished with college in Los Angeles when I got married and my husband and I started our family. I wanted my children to have high-quality preschool like I did, but it came at a steep price. We found the same to be true from California to Mississippi — North Carolina and Michigan.

Three years ago we moved to Washington, D.C., where our three-year-old son could go to school with our five-year-old daughter each day. We were so relieved. He was excelling in many ways — cognitively, socially, and emotionally.

I could see the results of his early learning at home. He was more conversational. He spoke to us about his friends at school. He has learned the alphabet, to count, the names of basic shapes and colors, and so much more. He talked about the stars and the galaxy, and D.C. as the nation’s capital. He knew of President Obama, the names of the First family, including their pets, and even their address — “1600 Pennsylvania Ave NW!” He asked about visiting the White House.

He was excited about learning!

Having my son enrolled in high quality preschool definitely prepared him for kindergarten. I believe he will have a strong start like I did, a life-long thirst for learning, and achieve anything he wants. Regardless of what type of money a child’s parents make, their cultural background, their native language, where they live, as Americans, they should have access to the same high quality education early in life. Why? Because we know it’s what’s best for them, their future, their family’s future, and thus the future of our country. It would be a disservice not to include preschool in the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act.

Latoya Smith is the Founder and President of Pros4Kids and Chair of the DCPS Early Childhood Education Policy Council.

Categories: Higher Education News

How the Pressure on Public Colleges Plays Out in One State

Chronicle of Higher Education - March 4, 2015 - 2:56am

Tuition is mostly on the rise. State support generally heads the other way. A new report looks at how those trends have affected educational goals and outcomes in Virginia.

Categories: Higher Education News

How One University Unexpectedly Found Itself Ranked Among the ‘25 Most Dangerous Colleges’

Chronicle of Higher Education - March 4, 2015 - 2:55am

Drake University was astonished at a website’s recent ranking. But even after the site apologized for errors and removed Drake from the list, the damage was done.

Categories: Higher Education News

Under Increasing Financial Pressure, Colleges Consider Mergers—Cautiously

Chronicle of Higher Education - March 4, 2015 - 2:55am

Joining forces with another institution can solve some problems but bring new ones as well.

Categories: Higher Education News

Is Sweet Briar’s Closure a Warning Sign for Other Small Colleges?

Chronicle of Higher Education - March 3, 2015 - 6:47pm

Some of the college’s peers have made big changes to stay afloat. But Sweet Briar couldn’t escape declining interest.

Categories: Higher Education News

Talk of 'De-Tenure' Triggers Faculty Ire in Tennessee

Chronicle of Higher Education - March 3, 2015 - 2:56am

The university system said a reference to the potential "enacting of a de-tenure process" was "inadvertent and incorrect." But faculty members remain leery.

Categories: Higher Education News

After 6 Suicides, U. of Pennsylvania Takes a Tough Look at Its Campus Culture

Chronicle of Higher Education - March 3, 2015 - 2:55am

A task force’s report on mental health calls for change in the university’s culture of perfection, to a mixed response on campus.

Categories: Higher Education News

If B.A.’s Can’t Lead Graduates to Jobs, Can Badges Do the Trick?

Chronicle of Higher Education - March 2, 2015 - 2:55am

A group of universities in the Washington area are betting that the certifications will help convince employers that students are picking up essential skills.

Categories: Higher Education News

Median Salaries of Senior College Administrators, 2014-15

Chronicle of Higher Education - March 2, 2015 - 2:55am

For the second consecutive year, the rate of salary growth for senior administrators at public colleges outpaced that of their peers at private institutions.

Categories: Higher Education News

NIH Refuses to Release Its Count of Animals in Academic Labs

Chronicle of Higher Education - March 1, 2015 - 10:55pm

But data collected by the activist group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals suggest that such animal use rose nearly 73 percent from 1997 to 2012.

Categories: Higher Education News

Director Looks at How Social Relations Affect the Land, and Other News About People

Chronicle of Higher Education - March 1, 2015 - 10:01pm

Brinda Sarathy, who has studied Latino forestry workers, leads the Robert Redford Conservancy at Pitzer College.

Categories: Higher Education News


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