I received an email today from Miss Kat's former principal (from the bi-bi school). She said she had received notice that the Utah State Board of Education had voted to close down Utah Schools for the Deaf and Blind, and have ALL the children be served by their local school districts.
Wow....I am just dumbfounded. That is incredibly inappropriate. The only thing that closing USDB would do is guarantee a huge portion of the deaf and blind student in Utah will miss out on their educations. The bi-bi school allows for free communication between an ASL using student and their teachers and peers. What will happen to these students? There are so many student that (I personally know!) that would be completely unable to function in the mainstream with an interpreter! Either they are still language learners (and we all know you can't learn language from an interpreter!) or come from homes with many challenges, or maybe they just don't have an outgoing personality and would feel isolated in the mainstream.
And that is just the signing kids! What about the oral kids too? How would you provide an appropriate eduction for a child who is in 6th grade but their language is not age appropriate? How do you help them fill their language gaps but still make sure they have access to the curriculum WITHOUT a small, self contained option with a teacher of the deaf?
This is truly an outrage. MAINSTREAMING ISN'T ALWAYS THE ANSWER!!! And inclusion is WAY more than just geography! Just because you place a deaf child with typical peers does not give them access to the curriculum or access to direct communication with ANYONE!
I really hope this isn't the case. I hope that the legislature sees that this would be a profound mistake. Our deaf kids deserve options. Just because a local school district placement may work for some oral kids, it certainly WON'T work for all. And while their are some kids who do wonderfully with interpreters in a hearing setting, it is NOT the place for all of them...
(Oh, and that is just the beginning....what about the preschoolers.....how will they ever learn language without immersion in a language rich environment???)