Wednesday, April 28, 2004

Paternalism II

Some comments made an excellent discussion on the blighting of deaf schools and the ones that may undo the concept of a deaf school system is none other than the abuses deaf children absorbed in the last 50 to 100 years.

Some complained that the deaf schools are not willing to address this subject. One said that even deaf administrators were part of the 'plot' to sweep things under the carpet. Blah, blah. I know what you guys meant by that! I agreed and guess what? I disagreed, too.

Most deaf schools are already shackled with funds being cut at an alarming rate. If they publicly talked about it, the negative image will send the message to the state whom in turn will find ways to obliterate the deaf schools by cutting the funds. Which is why they often did not address this. They simply do *not* know how to deal with this without getting the fierce attacks by pro-mainstreaming folks, who lobbied the government to shut the deaf schools down.

One good example is ... Washington State School for the Deaf. They hired a new superintendent who is Deaf and he addressed the sexual abuses that occured at the school prior to his arrival. There was an uproar in Olympia and Seattle that threatens to alter the fundings of the school, just because the Superintendent decides to confront the issues! The state government attempted to blame the Superintendent for causing these sexual abuses that occured BEFORE the Superintendent got to Vancouver!! This is absurd but is it unique? No. Very common.

Now to Mike's argument about deaf administrators sweeping under the carpet to keep it quiet ... you could say that to pinpoint the blame. But does it makes sense? No. Let's use the analogy of a college basketball team. Say, if Duke under the direction of Coach K violated many NCAA rules in terms of distributing money, cars et al. Then he got retired. Then a new coach comes in trying to make his program look good realized that he has the violations in his hands left by Coach K ... this mess could tarnish the new coach's reputation and put the team on probation for some years. Often the coach will try to sweep it under the carpet, to protect the university, team and himself.

But is it their fault? No. The same concept applies to many deaf administrators who are enthusiastic to take over only to find the mess in their hands, they became unsure what to do. They knew that if they publicly addressed this, he will be scorned, tarnished and mauled by the hearing folks in the government. Instead, some deaf administrators swept the carpet with no choice.

This boils to the whole bottom of the problems -- hearing people. Paternalism. For decades, hearing people took advantage of us because they knew that nobody would believe us. Nobody would take us seriously. Nobody would say anything, really. In 1950s, you got two applicants -- Deaf and hearing, hearing person is always hired on the spot. Deaf person has to fight his way around to make a living. It was difficult enough to get someone to listen to us back then.

Now with the DPN's impact on the society of Deaf communities, we suddenly have the access to these opportunities to take over these schools. Only to face the horrors.

So we just cannot blame some deaf administrators for trying to sweep it under the carpet, they were dumped with these mess on their hands and of course, they are unsure, scared and extremely worried about their careers, lives and funds for their schools.

So blame on deaf administrators are not fair, in my opinion. Blame it all on the Superintendents & Principals that ruled the deaf schools with an iron prior to the DPN Movement. They were the ones who are responsible. Of course, the majority of these are none other than hearing people.


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