Friday, December 01, 2006

Part I: The Two Faces of Senator McCain: His Background as a Gallaudet BoT

Once upon a time, Senator John McCain was just an honorary board member of Gallaudet. Before that, he was noted for his dedication on introducing bills and helped planted services for the deaf in a legislative level that earned his welcome mat to hop on the Board. I just can't help but wonder what did he really do for Gallaudet after taking the ticket? His decision to neglect the affairs of the turmoil on campus and not to make any effort to show up at the emergency meeting (October 29th, 2006) tells a lot about himself. Why, of course, he has to take priority elsewhere but I beg to ask why bother making a commitment being a member that he is supposed to fully understand and take the responsibility in the first place especially when a crisis is to occur? He could have grabbed the opportunity to witness various issues that the BoT inevitably had to scruntize, discuss and make some difficult but critical decisions. It is not about the fate of Jane K. Fernandes but to take the hands for the future of Gallaudet University. A recent Time magazine article (Nov. 27, 2006) issued about the Campaign 2008: G.O.P. Explorers: THE CONTENDER WHY THEY HAVE A CHANCE John McCain Odds: 10 to 11. He's John McCain! War hero, anti-corruption crusader, George W. Bush's best frenemy in the world. And it doesn't hurt that the press loves him. BUT…. The G.O.P. base doesn't trust anyone loved by the media, and his liberal fan base may offend a few conservatives. Plus, he wants to send more troops to Iraq. More troops to Iraq? Ahh, that’s another article to write about ! Now for this particular decision to make about running an office has obviously been in the back of McCain’s mind and who knows since when he has formulated this plan. It may be just a matter of time for him to seize the moment to announce his resignation from the Board. It is possible that this is a political move on his part that had less to do with being upset over the Board’s decision and more to do with simply wanting to find a way to leave the Board just to carry a clean slate. If that’s true, then his “resignation” wasn’t really a resignation. According to the CNN article, Senator Mc Cain resigned over the Board’s decision to terminate Fernandes. "McCain described the board's decision as unfair in a letter to outgoing President I. King Jordan this week." He said as much in a letter to a local constituent: "I voted for Fernandes because I considered her the appropriate candidate out of the 3 finalists. Now this protest is asking the board to terminate Fernandes. I disagree. I don't deem it necessary for the board to interfere because we made the right choice." You can see how his comments were biased about the termination of Jane K. Fernandes. As a responsible voter, one must analyze a variety of candidates' perspectives and examine holistic views before making a decision. With his history on the lack of involvement and mere opportunities in discussions while serving as a voting Board member, how could he possibly vote without being well-informed? Let’s visualize this for a moment; suppose UFG protest did not happen, would he still resign? Naturally, yes. We all know that for a presidential candidate to engage in a campaign must invest his time, energy, effort and money. He may resign from the Board with grace given the reason for running for President. His track record on the lack of attendance while serving the Board would probably not have been brought up. The Education of the Deaf Act of 1986 (as amended) provides that three members of Congress (one senator and two representatives) be appointed to the Gallaudet Board of Trustees. Senator McCain has created a vacancy slot designated for a “Senator” probably by new victors in the recent Senate elections. The challenge for the Gallaudet community is to include the perspective of the Senator (and Representatives) in the discourse on the future of Gallaudet. After all, the Federal government has every right to provide its input to an institution that it subsidizes. Oh, speaking of President Bush's "best frenemy", Senator McCain, you can see how this picture speaks for itself. There is more juice about him in Part II so stay tuned.

Barb Di Giovanni

Part II: The Two Faces of Senator McCain: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe

The Lion = The Protest at University of Arizona (November 6, 2000) The Witch = Proposition 203 (Passed November 20, 2000) The Wardrobe = Gay Marriage (November 21, 2006) On the side of the Capitol Hill, Senator McCain was involved as a chair of the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation in 2003 to sponsor training for real-time captioning writers and continued to serve as a committee member in 2005 that allowed deaf and hard of hearing viewers enjoy the accessibility to television programs. He was also a supporter of ADA so we just should forget about him and move on. But not so fast since Arizona Senator John McCain sees the trouncing Republicans took national as an encouraging sign for his 2008 presidential bid. So we need to be sure that we know plenty about the candidates before voting for the next president. So let's take a trip down to the memory lane of McCain, shall we? While serving as a Senator of Arizona (and still does now), the article, “Bilingual Education: Strike Two, Arizona voters follow California’s lead and mandate English-only programs“ (Winter 2001) has contrasted his advocacy on accessibility in captioning with his support to the Proposition 203. It stated that: “For children whose English is limited, Proposition 203 prohibits instruction in any language other than English, even in programs designed to teach them a foreign or Native American language. The initiative's sweeping language would appear to include most American Indian students learning tribal languages as well as most deaf students studying in American Sign Language. That's because large percentages of such children are currently assessed as 'limited English proficient.'" On the contrary, the other source showing the provision of Proposition 203 stated that physically-impaired students shall be completely unaffected. But it actually depends on what it means to be physically-impaired to the eyes of the educators. Let's say in a case scenario that a mainstreamed deaf student who relies on ASL interpreter has been denied because she has residual hearing that she is assumed to perceive spoken language. That won't be perceived as physically-impaired and never mind to recognize that she is also functionally deaf. Is it possible that this Proposition 203 oppresses linguistic rights for the deaf more than other states who don't have it? Another source confirms that it restricts "waivers" of the English-only rule, for children under age 10, to those with "physical or psychological handicaps" - i.e., special education students; only for older children would schools be given flexibility to exercise their "informed belief" about what's best for the student. Jeff MacSwan addressed this question: "What about deaf children in public schools who use American Sign Language? Even if they received a "waiver" of the English-only rule, deaf students would have to endure 30 days of incomprehensible English-only instruction at the start of each school year. Meaning in public schools, the use of ASL is now prohibited in the classroom even as means of instruction to enable the development of English literacy skills." Why the heck is Arizona forcing a wasted tax-paying 30 days of inaccessible instruction without ASL interpreter in order to be waived? Alejandra Sotomayor, a bilingual teacher and activist in the Tucson-based English Plus More Committee, attributed many of the campaign's weaknesses to its remote and undemocratic leadership. Educators and grassroots organizers were largely shunted aside by politicians pursuing "other agendas that had nothing to do with defeating Proposition 203," she said.

Indeed, the inaction of traditional allies - including, with few exceptions, the state's Latino leadership - became a sore point within the opposition campaign. Republican Governor Jane Dee Hull reportedly convinced many Democrats to unite behind Proposition 301, a sales-tax-for-education initiative, and to keep a low profile on Proposition 203.

"We saw a remarkable political cowardice from all sides," said Jeff MacSwan of the Arizona State University College of Education, "from both parties and especially from former supporters like Senator John McCain, who were completely silent." For him to support something then being apathetic about it is too flaky. It is like he picks up a stand then drops it. Which is which?

The website explained that “Arizona Proposition 203 to stop bilingual education was passed on November 20, 2000. Proposition 203 requires public schools in Arizona to end traditional bilingual education in favor of placing immigrant children with limited English skills in an intensive one-year English immersion program. Fed up with the failure of bilingual education to prepare immigrant children for success in America, voters on Nov.7 approved the controversial Proposition 203 by a margin of 63% to 37%. The measure repeals current bilingual education laws in Arizona and requires that all classes be taught in English.” This drew fire among stifled linguistic cultural groups such as Spanish, Navajo, Korean, Chinese, Tohon O'Odham crying for social injustice.

“In protest of Proposition 203, a measure to eliminate bilingual education in Arizona, about 25 University of Arizona students went without food or sleep for 24 hours. Other students participated in the fast to show unity and many people showed their support by wearing red and white ribbons. 'I'm doing this in the spirit of the Chicano movement and Cesar Chavez,' said Nicole Trujillo, a psychology junior who fasted and wore the ribbons. 'I'm trying to protect our native languages.' " Holy smokes, doesn’t that sound familiar to you guys? What is strikingly similar to the Gallaudet protest is:

* The media has had not publicize about the concerns of Preposition 203 from the side of the minority groups just like when the media covered a perfunctory report about the Gallaudet protest that they did not gather clear information for Fernandes to resign.

* Students of University of Arizona protested by fasting almost like Gallaudet hunger strike (except when fasting lasted for 24 hrs) and wearing red and white ribbons almost just like signs of UFG/tent cities to symbolize the unity for Gallaudet or justice for that matter.

* Oppression in linguistic culture (Spanish, Native American and ASL) in both Universities.

Since Senator McCain is from Arizona and running for president, this certainly does not look good from the perspective of the minority groups.

Finally about the wardrobe of Senator McCain’s position on gay marriage, it is interesting to see how wishy-washy he has been on this topic.

The source mentioned how w Romney was less charitable to McCain, who on Sunday (November 21st) told ABC News: “I believe that the issue of gay marriage should be decided by the states.” McCain also said, “I believe that gay marriage should not be legal.” Romney seized on the remarks. “That’s his position, and in my opinion, it’s disingenuous,” he said. “Look, if somebody says they’re in favor of gay marriage, I respect that view. If someone says — like I do — that I oppose same–sex marriage, I respect that view. But those who try and pretend to have it both ways, I find it to be disingenuous."

Now you can see the picture of McCain's style when it comes to dealing with such controversial issues that he does not take a strong , one-sided stand for what he really believes in. I don't think it is feasible having a president who is pretentious, don't you? Barb DiGiovanni