5. Schools for the Deaf
We the Deaf People supports schools for the deaf as a valid and desirable educational option for Deaf children. We recognize that there are a variety of educational settings that serve the needs of Deaf students, ranging from public and private settings to charter and state-run schools for the deaf. We believe that it’s better for parents and students to have a full menu of options instead of few or none.
While we understand the desire of parents to enroll their deaf children in local schools and have them come home each afternoon, for too many Deaf people, their school years have been noteworthy for frustration, isolation, and being academically and socially shortchanged. Nor have these young people enjoyed total inclusion in their families. Too many continue to share stories of neglect and exclusion. These stories deserve to be heeded.
Accredited schools for the deaf offer 24/7 access to ASL, an immersive and supportive ASL community, and an academically-challenging curriculum. Students’ learning styles are addressed; gifted students receive proper education according to their needs, and their talents are nurtured. Many alumni of schools for the deaf want this experience for their own Deaf children.
Traditionally, all deaf students prepared for trades, with a minority attending college, a handful earning advanced degrees at hearing colleges. Schools for the deaf have adapted to changes in pedagogy and have evolved, responding to the changes brought by the cochlear-implant boom, but the aim has remained constant: to give children the best, most accessible education, a safe place to learn, and a supportive community.
We support accredited schools for the deaf. We also believe that these schools should hire qualified Deaf superintendents, administrators, teachers, and staff whenever possible, although we recognize that there have been and are some excellent hearing supers, administrators, and teachers. But having a Deaf superintendent can exert a powerful influence on Deaf students—not just as a mentor, but an inspiration. And these Deaf administrators and teachers have all experienced how it feels to be a Deaf student.
We believe that schools for the deaf should have a 51% minimum Deaf board majority. Ideally, a school’s board should include several alumni, parents of students attending this school, and other stakeholders.
Schools for the deaf are a crucial part of the educational continuum, and deserve our support. We are committed to the preservation of schools for the deaf as a desirable educational option, and towards strengthening them, making them better, safer, and exemplars of academic excellence.