PRO-ASL Deaf on Board Now
1. Governor Daniels must rescind the appointments of Mary Susan Buhner, Scott Rigney and Lucy Witte from the ISD Board.
Rationale: Each of these three members is affiliated with Hear Indiana, an organization that actively works behind the scenes to eradicate "deafness," ASL and Deaf culture. Can anyone simply decide to do away with the Deaf community? Hear Indiana is an extremist organization that denies all deaf and hard of hearing children the right to the natural first language of ASL by prohibiting its use. They also counsel parents to not use ASL.
2. The ISD board must be comprised of at least at least 51% Board members who are culturally Deaf.
Rationale: ISD students have the right to be represented by qualified Board members who are Deaf, fluent in ASL, well-versed in bilingual education (ASL and English), and have experience with residential schools. All parents want their Deaf and hard of hearing children to grow up and represent themselves. Where better to begin than with ISD's Board. We are not against having hearing people on the Board, but they should be parents whose children are enrolled in ISD, and who understand and respect ASL and the Deaf community.
3. Governor Daniels should establish a transparent process for new Board selections with involvement by school stakeholders. He should appoint only people supportive of and dedicated to ISD's mission, vision and educational philosophies.
Rationale: Transparency is highly valued in a democracy. When a school board is appointed, transparency is critical. A transparent process ensures that stakeholders have had their say, preventing under-the-table appointments from happening- as in this case.
This is what a sucessful ISD almnus has written:
ISD is a perfect testing ground.
1. Knowing how AGBell/Hear Indiana members and supporters think and how they use legislative means to push their agenda . . . devising a sure-fire way to infiltrate and take over Deaf schools by means of getting onto the boards or applying for superintendencies. Since ISD is a top school (if not the top school) for the deaf, I see it as a “testing ground” for them to see if they can succeed. If they get away with this at ISD, they will go after other Deaf schools like California. (And remember, the Deaf community in California isn’t sitting back and congratulating itself on its victory over AB 2072, because they know the battle’s just begun.) If we can stop them here at ISD, they will think twice about their strategy.
Divided, they conquer; united, we stand.
2. We must show the world that we will not tolerate this kind of paternalistic oppression. We must also show that we do NOT have divisions or infighting within our community. During DPN, ASL users, Signed English users, and oral-deaf people marched TOGETHER. When, since that epochal event, have we had such unity? It’s been infighting, backstabbing, malicious gossip, hatred spewing all over the place. This has weakened our community. And the oralists, who are well-organized, well-funded, unified, supportive of each other, and committed to pushing their agenda (even a bit at a time), have taken advantage of it.
Standing up for our civil rights.
3. We must make this a national issue—not just for ISD, but for all schools. Deaf organizations like the NAD are standing up and say “Enough is enough!” It’s time for us to proclaim our right to live in freedom from want, fear, and oppression, as given in our Bill of Rights. Do you believe that deaf children have the right to access to ASL? Do you believe that Deaf people and hearing allies — especially parents of Deaf students — have the right to make decisions affecting schools for the deaf? Do you believe that appointing oralists to the board of a Bilingual ASL/English school violates our civil rights? Come join us!
- Indiana Governor
The Indiana School for the Deaf is one of the finest in the nation. It is a pioneering Bilingual American Sign Language/English school, and boasts an ever-expanding roster of accomplished and successful alumni, an excellent faculty, staff, and administration, and a diverse community of parents committed to ensuring that the students receive the best possible education. Despite this, ISD's Board, which is appointed by the Governor, has never had a Deaf majority. Although the Superintendent has recommended numerous ISD stakeholders, including Deaf alumni and hearing parents of ISD students, for appointment to the Board, almost every one has been bypassed—deliberately.
Governor Mitch Daniels recently appointed four new ISD Board members. One is an ISD alumna and a respected ASL teacher—but her appointment looks like tokenism, since the other three appointments are of hearing persons with strong affiliations to anti-ASL ("oralist") organizations and institutions. None of the new Board appointees have children enrolled at ISD.
We want the appointments of these three oralist Board members revoked. We also want ISD's Board to have a 51% Deaf majority. ISD's Board should be comprised of persons who understand the Deaf community, use and respect ASL, and have a stake in ISD's success. The board selection process must be transparent with ISD stakeholders involved in the process.
ISD has produced great leaders in the community and in the buisness fields. To continue having the BEST education for our present and future children we have to ensure that we have people on our board that completely understand Deaf Awareness and Culture. Having a board that is working for the greater importance which is the children that attend ISD is crucial, in order to continue working FOR the children we have to make sure the board fully understands the importance of a pioneering Bilingual American Sign Language/English school.
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