Thursday, April 3, 2014

AFA's Letter Concerning Iowa School for the Deaf Supt Search

2 April 2014
Ms. Rose Vasquez,
Search Committee Chair
And Ms. Marcia Brunson,
Policy and Operations Officer
Board of Regents

To Ms. Brunson and Ms. Vasquez,

It has come to our attention that the education of Deaf children in Iowa is endangered and as a national grassroots network of Deaf activists, dedicated to combating audism*, we feel compelled to respond.  It is clear to us that the recent actions of the Board of Regents translates into a systematic effort to ensure that the education of Deaf children in your state is moving toward the closure of Iowa School for the Deaf and resulting forced assimilation of Deaf students in your state.

Is it intentional that you have not included on your search committee for Superintendent significant Deaf representatives nor representatives from vital stakeholders such as ISD alumni and Deaf Community members?

Is it intentional that you have not sought a QUALIFIED individual for the Superintendent position who has an advanced degree in the areas related to the education of Deaf individuals?

Is it intentional that it is not a priority that the Superintendent of a Deaf school can communicate directly with the stakeholders and students she/he is expected to serve and protect?

Is it intentional that you are not actively working with the Deaf Coalition of Iowa to build a stronger relationship between the Deaf community and the Iowa School for the Deaf?

Unfortunately, these efforts will leave the future generation of Iowa Deaf students academically at risk.  Not only is this unjust, there are international documents which your actions violate in principle:

The International Congress on the Education of the Deaf (ICED) in 2010 noted that, many Deaf citizens are being prevented from “equal access to decision making, employment opportunities and quality education” and therefore urged all nations to “facilitate, enhance and embrace their Deaf citizens’ participation in all governmental decision making processes affecting all aspects of their lives.”

From the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities:
Deaf children have the human right to accessible learning which “facilitate(s) their full and equal participation in education and as members of the community.”

At this point in time what is needed is a visionary Superintendent who is dedicated to improving the education of Deaf children in Iowa by putting into practice an innovative challenging educational program at Iowa School for the Deaf that will prepare Deaf students as global citizens.  Relying heavily on a search committee that has minimal knowledge of Deaf culture, ASL, and community accountability within the Deaf-World does not bode well in leading to an Audism-free new Superintendent.

The passion of the members of the Deaf Coalition of Iowa shows a great investment in the importance of the future of the Iowa School for the Deaf and the education of all Deaf children in Iowa. This investment the Board and future Superintendent cannot afford to loose.

Let Freedom Roll,

Karen Christie, Patti Durr and Ruthie Jordan

*Audism is attitudes and practices based on the assumption that behaving in the ways of those who speak and hear is desired and best. It produces a system of privilege, thus resulting in stigma, bias, discrimination, and prejudice—in overt or covert ways—against Deaf culture, American Sign Language, and Deaf people of all walks of life.

Cc:  Robert Vizzini, Deaf Coalition of Iowa,
       Patrick Clancy, Superintendent of Iowa