Talkback 3: Deaf School Protest - - Jackson, MS

Talkback 3: Deaf School Protest


Your poll on the WLBT website asking "Do you think teachers of deaf students should be very proficient in sign language?" is moot.  Of course the teachers should be qualified to communicate properly with the students - how can they pass on information to the children if they can't talk to them? 

The problem is not a new one, and not news to anyone who has ever spent time there.  The deaf school has had problems finding and retaining qualified teachers for years, if not always.  There are few skilled teachers applying there to be hired.  The debate as to reasons why this is so could last for days.  So the administration hires people with regular teaching certificates with the false hope that those people will learn to sign if they are thrown into a sink-or-swim environment.  Usually they do not, and the kids are the ones who lose because those teachers are not dismissed when they fail to learn the language.  Can you imagine a Jackson public school hiring a teacher who only spoke Japanese or French or (pick a language)? 

The problem, in my opinion, lies in the school's inability to recruit and retain teachers who have degrees in deaf education.  The students can rightfully protest all they want, and I support their position, but it will not change the fact that there is no one to replace the teachers with whom they are frustrated. It is also ridiculous that the school officials had to use WLBT's interpreter to speak to the students while you were there.  I would be embarrassed to be those administrators, not only for having to use your interpreter, but for having to use any interpreter at all.  Being a skilled communicator should start at the top, one would think.  How can administrators hold the teachers accountable for being proficient in sign language if they aren't themselves?

I don't work at MSD, but I still prefer to remain anonymous.

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