The LAUSD accepts the controversial deaf education program, despite strong opposition

The Los Angeles Unified School Board voted unanimously in favor. Controversial overhaul of deaf education in the district report late Tuesday evening.

“We are trying to tell all deaf children and their families that we need to move mountains to make sure their needs are met,” said Jackie Goldberg, the council’s sponsor and board member, who said yes. Voting in American Sign Language.

“In the years leading up to kindergarten, we should not miss a single window to facilitate language acquisition, whether it is spoken, signed, or both.”

The vote ended weeks of controversy: a three-hour public debate on Resolution 029-21 / 22, which will create a new section for deaf and hard of hearing education as part of the district’s special education program.

Voting will also include American Sign Language in the district’s bilingual, bilingual program. The most controversial change, however, would be to make ASL-English bilingual education the district standard for early intervention for deaf students.

Proponents say the move addresses the urgent need for linguistic equality in the region. Opponents see this as a violation of their parental rights.

«[Bilingual education] It’s our choice, it’s not necessary, ”says mother Hayley Cohen, whose almost 2-year-old daughter, Talia, is deaf, receiving early intervention services to speak and listen. “Why do we have to go through all this to get him in as soon as possible?” [to cochlear implants] Is it possible to force her to learn sign language later? ”

This provision was supported by many deaf educators and students, such as the United Teachers of Los Angeles and the ACLU. But many parents of deaf children like Cohen, like him, strongly opposed it. ” Los Angeles mayoral candidate Rick Carusowhose daughter is hard to hear.

“I was disappointed to learn that LAUSD, the second largest school district in the country, could restrict the choices of children and their families, rather than take steps to expand those choices,” Caruso said in a statement. “This resolution will eliminate the choice of parents.”

Caruso and his wife, Tina, donated $ 25 million to the Tina-Rick Caruso Department of Otolaryngology for head and neck surgery. Their daughter, Janna “Gigi” Caruso started using hearing aids In 3 months.

Caruso’s other opponents have said that bilingual education is essentially obsolete for the youngest deaf learners, who receive almost universal cochlear implants, such as Talia, which allows most to hear and speak.

They argue that bilingual education will create an unnecessary burden for hearing families, as more than 90% of deaf and hard of hearing children are born to hearing parents.

“I ask you to talk to the current families of newborns and small children. “The technological results և speech language therapy have improved significantly in the last five years,” said mother Violet Lang, whose 2 1/2-year-old daughter is Ruby. nipple, as he uses a cochlear implant.

“It is too much to expect from a deaf family thrown into the world,” he said, “while mourning, navigating health care, learning how to be a parent for the first time, [also] learn ASL. ”

Many who spoke at the council meeting on Tuesday evening said they feared they would be deprived of their contribution to the parents of other children with disabilities – the right to make decisions in the field of education for people with disabilities.

“The resolution may not deprive parents of their consent, but it is not far-fetched so that all parents know their options,” said Rene Lucero, director of the Echo Center, a listening program in Culver City who is deaf. .

However, council member Goldberg said it was a misreading of the text.

“This is not a motion to avoid options, this is an opportunity to make sure everyone gets all the options, which both sides tell me is not the case at the moment,” he said. “Both sides tell me that when they attend a Personalized Education Plan meeting, they have a very strong feeling that someone else has already decided what is best for their child.”

The data show that very deaf children still enter school with significant language delays, that they perform much worse in English language skills than their non-disabled peers.

Goldberg և Proponents of her case have been working to make the actual transcript of this statement available online. Making ASL bilingual English a tacit intervention would increase parental choice by providing more unbiased and complete information about their two languages, he said.

“Someone asked me. “Why do not I say? May start a children’s program [bilingually] instead will? said the council member. «This is why. we had a problem offering at all.

“And we had a problem when people told parents that if they chose ASL, they would doom their children to failure,” he said. “It’s not something I invent, it’s happening. It will not happen if they have to at least be the first to offer the other. ”

Eventually, the council was influenced by the testimony of deaf students such as Vera Campos, who was among dozens of supporters who gathered outside before the meeting to fill the voting room.

“I did not learn American Sign Language in elementary school because we were not allowed to use ASL there. “My teachers worried that if I signed up, I would never learn a word,” said the 11th grader, who had a cochlear implant in trilingual English, Spanish and ASL.

“American Sign Language is a language that allows me to communicate without restrictions,” said the student. All deaf and hard of hearing students “deserve to use ASL at a young age.”

Maxi Goldberg, 45, a deaf mother of a listening 7-year-old daughter, supports the proposal to make ASL-English bilingual education the standard for a Los Angeles Unified School District.

(Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times)

Indeed, several board members asked if they could sign as co-authors of the resolution after hearing similar testimony.

«[The status quo] terribly like prop. The Lost History of 227 States [requiring] “English education only,” said board member Nick Melvoyn, who signed the greeting in ASL. “I think the word, which is constantly heard, adds. The ability for families to have bilingual options to be illiterate is a skill I would love to have. ”

Council member Monica Garcia compared concerns about ASL-English bilingual education to Spanish decades ago.

“It seems very familiar to the English learner,” he said during the meeting. “Then let us go to learn, right? my mother was told him not to speak Spanish because that’s the case harmful to him և to his family. ”

The other members emphasized that the resolution would not replace colloquial English with ASL, it would not neglect parental choice.

“I have never been a person trying to tell anyone how to raise their child,” Goldberg said. “If you do not want to, just say no.”

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