Tuesday, October 12, 2010

WSD- Another Mom's Opinion

I saw this comment on my post about the budget cuts at WSD and found it to be really interesting. Please know I am just sharing a stockholder's opinion.
Anonymous said...

WOW! So many thoughts. First let me start by saying, WSD has had budget issues long before Jane Muhollnad showed up. She has been a tremendous blessing to that school on many levels. I, as a parent, am grateful she is there.
Now on to "T.G." All politics aside, Do you know how many children attend WSD? How many children benefit from the education they provide? Not every student at WSD does as well as Mels son. Many of them struggle socially and academically. Did you know that many come to WSD that way. Do you know why? Because no matter how hard their parents advocate for them their local early intervention was not enough, or their local mainstream public school failed them. I know many teachers try to help and do all they can. But a deaf student in a class of 25+ is going to be somewhat overlooked. Deaf children, as well as hearing children, need a strong language foundation to be educated. ASL or English, it doesn't matter. Most deaf will not get that in a public school setting.
We CHOSE to raise our child DEAF. She uses sign language for communication, as do we. When she was three months old, WSD took us in. They taught us sign language. They introduced us to other deaf families. They taught us how to teach our child. How to help her become aware of the world around her. Most importantly, how to advocate for her. She is educated. She too meets the states guidelines for academics. She is very smart, and she thrives in a deaf school setting. Without the support of WSD and their staff, we would have had no early intervention for our daughter. I would not be able to communicate with her on a "relationship" level. She can tell me all about her day. Her wants, needs, likes and dislikes. We can read together and we can talk about tomorrow. We share a language.
You are putting a price on the relationship families have with their children and on their education.
You said that Mels son would be "better off in a mainstream setting where he can be challenged intellectually". But I ask, how do you challenge someone with whom you can not communicate. Someone you can not relate to.

The only thing these budget cuts say to me is that one child's education is more important than another. Their education should be protected.

-Hearing Mom


  1. From one hearing mom to another....your experience is our experience too. I am extremely grateful for the Deaf School our daughter attended. To other hearing moms and dad...speak out. Your voice counts when it comes to making states understand that Deaf Schools must continue to be part of the "educational continuum" under IDEA. Deaf kids can't control the economy and neither should the economy control what our children and their ability to thrive through accessible language. Great post once again!!


  2. First at the start of this post I typed "stockholder" hee hee I meant "stakehoder" my glasses are weak and spell check betrayed me.

    Three cheers for Tami!

    I found "Hearing Moms" post to be so powerful it really needed to be shared.

    Please, when reading this post do not think we are in any way judging other options. We just want our choice which has been successful for us to be an option.

  3. Amen. We want the option of schools for the deaf to remain open and available to all who need it.

    There are kids who will do well no matter what their school is because of a rich home environment, healthy parent support and native intelligence.

    And there are kids who need the enriched support and social stimulation that schools for the deaf are equipped to give, no matter what else they have going for them. It's painful to see these kids struggle in the mainstream.

  4. Worst of all, I can't believe they would cut the family education/early intervention department. That is CRUCIAL, especially for families who need a way to gain information and find other families.

    And I've visited some mainstream programs recently - not impressed at all. I saw a hearing teacher in the deaf preschool classroom grab a child's face to get him to look at her and that was that. The issue with many (not all) public or private mainstreaming is that they often have never met a deaf person, may have the wrong ideas, and so forth. If parents are also not sure how to advocate and what is and isn't correct that child's needs will not be met. Plus, if the deaf child is the only one there they can be extremely isolated.

    All deaf schools are not bad. For many they are an invaluable resource. Many deaf schools are improving (slowly, but surely). More and more finally beginning to accept bilingual philosophies, while others still insist on using TC or separating kids who sign and who speak. I'm fortunate to live in a area where there are two excellent schools close by which offer the chance for all deaf kids (whether they have implants or not) to be bilingual.

  5. I was reading an article about this and I am concerned because it says that only 9% of the deaf students are proficient in reading. That is not OK.

  6. Thank you for the thoughtful comments.

    Anonymous, I have not read the article you mentioned but from experience I do know literacy is a huge concern when it comes to deaf kids. There are tools though to combat this.

    When it comes to later outcomes the first few years are critical. So much depends on the parents. The parents are the child's first teacher.

    Early intervention is a way to give parents the tools they need to take on this task. My son reads at an advanced level but we had to do a lot of research and do most of the work in his first three years. We needed the support of early intervention and the deaf community to do this.

    If we take away this support system we are abandoning the families of newly identified children. Qualified professionals in this field can offer unbiased support to parents who are going through a drastic adjustment period.

    WSD offers this for now. Soon it won't.

  7. "On last year's Westest, only 16 percent of the school's students were proficient on the standardized test's mathematics proportion. Just 9 percent of the school's deaf students and 22 percent of blind or partially sighted students were proficient on the reading test."


    But, if this is them "doing the right things" as you and the other mother described, what does failing their students look like?

  8. This is a great discussion. First I want to make sure it is clear I am talking about Washington School for The Deaf in Vancouver Washington.

    When I see statistics like that I cringe but also wonder what is the demographic. I imagine even if a school is an ideal learning environment there are other factors. So I am going to talk about what I have seen over the last 12 years (yikes almost 13).

    I feel literacy is more likely to happen when the child and their parents or caregivers share the same native language. Before the child steps foot in a school pre literacy development is happening with this language.

    I feel it doesn't matter what language or methods a parent chooses they need to be part of the equation. A child from a hearing home might test higher if their parents read, read to them etc...

    So I am not surprised when a child who hasn't had this environment is not testing well. I am in no way trying to blame the parents. I have noticed that children of deaf adults tend to test higher. I have noticed CI kids with involved parents tend to test better and parents who do what we do see the same outcomes.

    I also do know for a fact many children that enter the school do so in higher grades after not doing well in the mainstream class. The come to the school testing low and the school has to try and catch them up.

    So my son and hearing mom's daughter have accessible language fluency at home. In my case ( I can't really speak for another mom but I would guess it is true for her) I had the tools to promote pre literacy thanks to early intervention. My son entered the deaf school developmentally ready to stay at grade level.

    I do use test scores as a tool but only if I am looking at the big picture.

    Not all schools are the same but I do know my son and my family benefited from WSD. I understand how deaf schools look to folks who don't benefit from one so I love the idea that we can share opinions on the topic.

  9. Keep in mind too that many of the students of Deaf Schools
    have been transferred in from mainstream schools who "failed" the
    Deaf student. Then Deaf School's tests scores are then pulled down
    because there is no way to undue the damage overnight. Especially
    if a child's language is delayed. So when looking at test scores, we made look
    at all the factors involved.


  10. I apologize for the misunderstanding. I was reading two different blogs about Deaf school cuts, and both started with W...my mistake! But a good discussion nonetheless!

  11. Anonymous no worries! I didn't even think about there being another school starting with w.

    As for the discussion I think in the current landscape of cuts and closures it is good to get everyone's perspective. Your comment opened up another topic to address, thanks!

  12. There is also the issue of how well HEARING kids do on their tests. The fact of the matter is that hearing students do NOT do much better than Deaf students on their tests.

    One major example that we see often is that Deaf students read at the 4th grade level. Personally, I think this is b***s***, but if you want to accept that--don't forget to look at our hearing counterparts. The average reading level of hearing kids in America is 6th grade. With that in mind, Deaf kids are not that behind. Hope I'm making sense here.

  13. If WSD is so proficient in teaching deaf students, why don't the students improve? It looks like they go to school, most of them attend in the summer as well, but improve at a minimum -- about 3 months improvement for each year in school. What is the point of being educated if there is no gain?


  14. Where do you get the figure of 3 months per year? Also, as mentioned, many of these students have already missed the prime language acquisition period because they were not given exposure to ASL. As a result they don't learn as well as someone who has fluency in a native language. Formative years were wasted on trying to educate them using English which is not accessible to them.

  15. As a graduate of WSD ('80) and a product of all educational venues available to Deaf students, I have to say the best academic years were the four years at WSD. Yes for some students literacy doesn't come easy but if tests were to be produced in their native language then the results will be far more convincing of their comprehension of a structured language. I will not take away the benefits that some students can excel in a different educational setting but they will never receive the total package of what education is all about.

    Richard Layton
    Agriculture Education, Teacher/Advisor