Thursday, July 1, 2010

Moving Forward

About 8 years ago......

So My husband and I decided we needed to quit the film business in order to have a more rich family life. The education options in Los Angeles were OK for the very early years but a state school seemed more appealing. If we quit our careers Los Angeles would no longer be affordable.

The school my son was attending was a bi/bi program in a not so safe part of town. The building was in need of repair and the play ground was a focus of my fund raising efforts. My son was the only white kid which never seemed to be an issue for us. We wanted our son to be around all kinds of people and welcomed cultural diversity. The families were awesome and most learned ASL. Every day a group of moms would take the school bus to school with their kids and go to sign class. After that they would wait in a small parents room for school to get out. That always impressed me.

So we decided to check out WSD in Vancouver. We flew up to visit and when we drove up to the campus my son got excited and pointed to a grass divider in front of the school, "Look at the playground!". His school in LA didn't have grass on the play ground so this huge campus with tons of grass looked like a dream to him. We took a tour and the thing that startled me most was the class he would be joining. There where only 6 kids! His class in LA had 18 with 3 lead teachers. The funny thing we noticed was all the kids were white. So we would be giving up diversity and peers. Another thing that startled me was everyone was so amazed at my son's signing. So this would mean the other children were not as fluent? For some reason I had imagined all the kids at a state school would be native signers but this was not the case. I had always had this image in my mind that a state school would be some sort of Deaf nirvana for my son.

The other problem was the school had no language policy but the teacher was deaf so that was a plus. Everyone used sign in the classroom but there was no ASL curriculum for the children which seemed really stupid to me. Kids get English instruction why wouldn't deaf kids get instruction in their native language. We used ASL to teach my son English and he was far ahead of other kids his age. The curriculum was not bi/bi but I am a strong advocate so I felt pretty confident I could guide his education in the right direction.

So we left the school a little disappointed but hopeful. We flew back home to think and look at other options.


  1. Ahh, what do you know. It wasn't 3 months.

    ASL needs to be a part of the curriculum in any school for the deaf. Suggest that at the parent/board meeting. Best of luck.


  2. Remember that the state schools are also the ones ultimately responsible for the education of those kids allowed to fail orally first, and only "allowed" to go to the state school once they've failed.

    It's always so heartbreaking to see those "vacant" deaf kids, but there is at least SOME joy in seeing their eyes light up at the idea that THINGS HAVE NAMES!

    They will forever be playing catch-up, however, and their scores are added into the mix of the state school scores, giving the oralists something to point to as though they didn't CAUSE the problem.

    I am really glad to see the care you take with your son's education!

    Just a thought... The Bay Area has at least some film work done here now, since LucasFilms made it a place where smaller companies could also thrive. Not to mention the history of filming all those old westerns in the Niles Canyon region...

    I don't know enough about the film industry really to be advising you, tho... My pride in the California School for the Deaf at Fremont is just showing... ;-)

    - Linda

  3. Thanks for the comments.

    We really wanted Freemont but didn't want to work in film anymore because of the damage it was doing to the family. My work hours were very long so it was hard to see my son. It was a very hard choice for us because we felt Freemont was a perfect match.This all happened eight years ago and I am happy to report the school here just started to move to a bi/bi program.

    Of course too late for my son but he is doing great. We made sure he got what he needed and now he has been accepted into a one of the best schools on the west coast! He had to apply and audition to get in and I believe his native ASL was a key factor in his acedemic success. He is not oral and only says maybe 3 words but that doesn't bother him at all because he is living his dream on his terms.