In the last week or two, Indiana School for the Deaf (ISD), which I am a proud alumna, had its school shaken to its core. Governor Daniels appointed 4 new members to the School Board. After 3 years, we have an alumna on the board and three new members…
Why are we shaken? ISD is a strong bilingual education school bridging American Sign Language (ASL) and English as linguistic peers in instruction to deaf and hard of hearing students. It is the only school in the state of Indiana with this method of instruction.
Ok, what’s the point, you ask? The two of the three new members are strong oral education supporters. In fact, they are parents of deaf children who do not attend ISD.
Scott Rigney is also a board member at St. Joseph Oral School for the Deaf based in Indianapolis. This school is among many schools across the state which provide oral instruction. The third member has ties to an organization, HEAR Indiana. This organization is an state offshoot of AG Bell organization, an organization which has proven time to time its anti-ASL propaganda.
Let us get back to the point. Why is this relevant? They are representing a higher percentage of deaf students not enrolled at ISD. They are there to bring in “new” ideas and methods.
Lets go on to a relevant connection. Are you saying it is appropriate for a majority of the board to not have an overall understanding of ASL, the deaf community and the mission, vision and philosophies of ISD? It is equivalent of allowing a large percentage of KKK supporters on the board of Howard University or men on the board at Wellsey College. Imagine the rights of the Blacks/African-Americans and Women being removed from both campuses, further reverting back to the old days of oppression and denial of civil rights.
We are here to preserve the linguistic, human and civil right for deaf and hard of hearing, their families and friends right to access ASL and bridge ASL with English in all forms in an educational setting well suited for this advantage (did I mention that ISD is the only school which provides bilingual instruction?).
So in this, our demands are:
1. To rescind the appointments of Mary Sue Buhner, Scot Rigney and Lucy Witte.
2. To establish 51% majority board members who are deaf and hard of hearing.
3. To establish a transparent procedure of the selection of qualified board members who understand the educational issues students face, respect the mission, vision and philosophies of ISD, and promote ASL & Deaf Culture.
As a bilingual user and alumna of ISD, the shaking will not cease!