It was 35 years ago. That's puts it back in the Fall of 1976. I had a brave Special Education Teacher. She had 5 deaf students in her class room full of special education kids. She knew that deaf schools had rejected them because they could hear with hearing aids. From 1972 to 1975, she had tested us 5 deaf students (me and 4 others), and found that we were able to do things better than other special education kids could do. Our teacher constantly ran out of her classroom material. I'd finish everything when I felt like I had to and kept asking "MORE PLEASE" to her.
In 1976, she decided enough was enough. She approached each student's home district school. (mine was the Fairport Central School district). My special education teacher wanted to set up a Deaf Mainstream project in each hearing grade school of the home district that the student was to be in. We were being sent to Freshmen and Sophomore grade level schools. From 1976 to 1977, we were in our transition year. Leaving that BOCES #1 school was pretty much hard for us.
Some of the 5 were glad to leave BOCES and go to a "normal school" to be able to learn better. Yet, we were breaking up as a group that we gotten to know so well. We left our memories and our special classmates. We gathered into one last group hug, wished each other well, and we each boarded a bus that was to take us to our new home school for the rest of our grade years. We broke one rule and it was ours to break that day. We pushed that seat window down and began to yell our cheers and giving thumbs up until we were out of sight of each other. I had hoped in life I'd see them again, but I never did.
I felt like being the first deaf person to enter Minerva Deland long ago. It was rough. It was a transition from a special education/deaf group culture to a hearing culture. Each of us were given a phonic ear set, note takers, tutors (if we needed it) a teacher for the deaf to each us sign language (which was a joke. who do keep signing with?) and a psychologist to monitor our transitions.
I wasn't that much popular with the students. But some "adopted" me to help to usher me through Freshmen, Sophomore, Junior, and senior years. When I ran for class president of the class of 1981, I lost by one vote. Some of my classmates found out who it was and promptly did something to him. To this day, that person wishes he could have changed his vote back then. But he admitted that he was bribed which later turned out to be the wrong thing to accept.
I look back on my mainstream years in the school district. If I fell through the education cracks like today if deaf schools kept on rejecting hearing impaired students like back in the 1960- the mid '80s, where would we go? Especially if Gov. Andrew Cuomo's plans to close Special Education schools, Deaf Schools, and Deaf blind schools?
As this coming June 2011 comes close, I'm going to be celebrating 30 years since I graduated from my Fairport High School. But it's also 35 years ago that I helped started the mainstream program too.
Without my special education teacher long ago in a situation like this time, things wouldn't have been possible.
New York voters, you need to send Gov. Andrew Cuomo a message: If you act like your father, the former Governor Mario Cuomo, you can be sure we can and will IMPEACH you for what you are doing.
Find another way to balance that New York State Budget. The days of crazy spending and tax raising are over. It's either you find a way or consider walking away from what you started. To put the deaf schools, deaf/blind schools, and special education schools on the chopping block IS NOT the idea to do. Find another way.
One idea: Stop earmarking special interest groups from asking for state assistance. The free rides in NY are OVER.
Help us keep Deaf schools, Deaf/Blind, and special education schools (Like B.O.C.E.S.) in NY. They deserve to be there.
Till next post, I'll clue you in.