Thursday, February 24, 2011

School for the Deaf Students in Jeopardy

Here is the official website and video from Channel 8 news that Rochester School for the Deaf was on yesterday in regards to 4201 budget proposal. (closed caption is available at my YouTube channel)

I am glad that the news picked up what I said as a teacher: "Public school teachers aren't trained to make the best decisions for kids who are Deaf or hard of hearing. It denies the students to have power themselves for having the experience part of a real social situation, leadership, all of that. It's not only about the money, 
it's compassion."
For the students to be able to take ownership in leadership activities in public schools are not the same as in schools for the Deaf. RSD like most schools for the Deaf provides:
• Interscholastic Middle and High School Athletics
• Wildcat Zone Recreation Center
• Student Body Government
• Junior National Association for the Deaf Chapter
• Yearbook Club
• Hobby and Special Interest Clubs
• Drama Program
• Adventures in Education Program
• Artist-in-Residence Program
• RSD Travel Abroad Program
• Community Service Opportunities (i.e. Girl Scouts/Brownies)
• School-Day and Extended Field Trips
• Storytelling Competitions
• Math and Academic Bowl competitions and many other rewarding activities.
The news mentioned Cooper, who is currently a sophomore, that he experienced mainstreaming when he was younger and he wished not to go back.
"Today, Cooper lives at RSD with other deaf students and is on his way to a successful future."
"I might really be struggling as I was before. I'd probably just have a few friends as opposed to the many I have here."
If the Governor's proposal has passed, Cooper and many others will be forced to go back to local school districts who may not only face the struggles to have their learning needs met but social needs as well. They will miss all of the social and leadership opportunities that will be no longer provided for them to grow to be future leaders.
Remember the article, Deaf Education: A New Philosophy, Mark Marschark mentioned that,"Rather than closing them, we need more programs that understand how to educate deaf kids. The mainstream as it exists now is not necessarily the best place for many deaf students. Sure, a kid doing OK in the mainstream will stay there. But he could be a star in another setting. The status quo is not good enough."
America is often called “the land of opportunity” for all people. Where are Cooper's and his parents' rights to make an educational choice? Amendments 13 and 14 are supposed to guarantee such civil rights—the right to life, liberty, and ownership of property as well as equal protection under the law. The way many look at it, there is also a civil right to a quality education and the freedom necessary to pursue that education choice. For the Governor's proposal to be approved will be so un-American-like, so undemocratic. We can't let this happen!
As Dr. Mowl pointed out to the news, "What he's proposing is very destructive, possibly dismantling a very good system of services for deaf children in all of New York."
Kudos to Dr. Mowl for spearheading as a great leader and chairperson of 4201 schools association!