I think the budget cuts are a gift that will allow us to make overdue changes in Deaf Schools. They say that you need a sense of urgency to create change and the budget cuts put pressure on and create that sense of urgency. I would advocate for closure of WSD and other schools for the deaf and a push toward integration of deaf children in the life of our public schools. Deaf schools are not the only places where competent signers are also caring teachers -- those individuals work in public and private schools for children at large. Public education is a fundamental issue of democracy and deaf children deserve it and have a right to it."
In theory this so great. If rural public schools had the qualified staff and critical mass to meet the needs of all deaf children it would make life much easier for families. If public schools in larger towns had the qualified interpreters and critical mass to support it's deaf students this would be ideal. It is my opinion directing children back to their local districts is not the answer.
So the topics I want to explore are qualified personnel and critical mass.
I was talking with a high school student and her mother last week. They expressed how it was hard to send her to the state school all week only to spend time together on the weekends. I asked why they didn't mainstream. I was told the interpreter she would get wasn't qualified.
The problem many rural and small towns have is even if they desire to educate deaf child who communicate with ASL they don't have the resources. You can't force interpreters to move to these locations. Children at the state school get direct instruction in ASL so there understanding of core content is clear. There is also access to a pool of interpreters for events outside of school because it is a hub of deaf culture.
Critical mass also plays a role. If there is one deaf child in the district it makes no sense to hire teachers with deaf education backgrounds. So it is left to the district teacher to figure it out maybe with support from an itinerant?
I believe their are some children who would never meet another deaf person which could effect self esteem and social development. In an area with a concentration of signing adults the parents are also supported by community.
My son mainstreamed for half days in elementary for 1 1/2 years. It didn't work socially because the district doesn't teach foreign language (ASL) until middle school. He now does fine because his hearing peers can communicate with him. We live close to the deaf school so we have access to qualified district employees and interpreters that can support his school.
Deaf children have the right to a free and appropriate education . They are also deserve the right to the least restrictive natural environment.
So those are just a few thoughts off the top of my head. I would welcome any opinions on this topic.