How many of us are parents? How many of us are students? Now, of you parents, how many have student children in a modern public school between the years of 2010 and the present?
Okay, of you who answered yes to the question above, how many of your children’s schools are charters, corporate style reformed schools (not the obvious places where the bad boys go)?
If yes to that question, how do you feel about school reform? Do you like the idea behind charters? Do you actually Think teachers are the problem? How many of you want better teachers? And besides that, how many of you feel that your children’s learning is the children’s fault or the child has some form of ADHD or learning disability?
Education writers John Owens and Diane Ravitch have written extensively about the actual problems with school reform. Two posts ago, I covered Ravitch’s latest book available for download on Bard, Reign of Error, and it did not exactly cover that blind and special needs children were being thrown around like rag dolls, not allowed to attend the elitist education system that is public schooling as I never knew it.
Now, I am about to cover what I am literally seeing as schools gone wrong. Call it pessimism, but schools have gone down the tubes. The children in the schools are supposed to be learning and not crunching numbers for tyrants such as Bill Gates, managers who push the teachers out. Yeah, really.
Here’s a great look at education in the last two years: John Owens’ book Confessions of a Bad Teacher. I don’t think Owens would or was being or whatever it is to say about bad teachers. Owens saw the real problems in the schools, and he talks about them candidly in this book.
Dated 2013, this book should strike a chord in some minor keys. But never to worry, a lot of the kids’ names and identifying information have been changed. As is the legal thing to do, teacher authors are building composite sketches of kids they know.
There is one small problem that Owens forgot to mention: most teachers sometimes forget to mention if not all the time that special education includes blindness, deafness, physical inability to walk, sit or stand in places. Owens has forgotten the 90% of blind students who cannot read, at all, given the unqualified TVI in almost every case stating, “We have synthesized speech, computers and such.” Yes, we do, but what is literacy?
Allow me to define literacy. It is the ability to spell words correctly, read and comprehend words, phrases, and sentences in a story, and compose one’s own prose as I am doing now. I am literate thanks in part to a college educated teacher of the visually impaired, who has since fallen off the sphere due to misunderstanding my relationship with a boyfriend, something she will probably never get. We kept in touch, for sure, but she really needed a bit of a shake up because she accused me of “chasing” my boyfriend, when indeed we mutually agreed upon the relationship. But that is neither here nor there. Literacy was a huge gift and I was lucky enough back in the 1990s to receive such a gift, but in the New Millennium, blind children are struggling more and more and more because of the inability of principals and superintendents to hire qualified teachers, teachers who can also teach a blind person. They must, in some way, have an experience equivalent to being able to teach a blind person. I would like to pick on someone for this job, a cane teacher who taught in Brevard County schools for years and years, putting up with me being a side chore among things. Theresa, one of the best big sisters I’ve come to understand, is like a Jack of All Trades. She knows firsthand having had blind siblings grow up and succeed in life, whether by marrying and having kids or doing something with their lives. Her three blind siblings being married and happy are a sure sign that the parents in the picture are truly the model parents we need to show teachers and students alike.
Theresa’s two older brothers, actually I think they’re a bit all over the place, are blind and one is older and the other a bit younger. She has one partially or whatever blind sister, married and with children and a husband to this day. The sister performs various things independently, taking her kids to various extras such as swimming and music classes. She owes this to literacy, skills, and good mentors and teachers. same with the other two men in Theresa’s family. Theresa herself is qualified to teach because she went to the state’s on paper best college of vision studies, Florida State University. She qualifies because said college taught the basics, but there is something completely wrong with teachers who do not qualify being hired as TVI’s. I’m sorry, but there is a prerequisite to teaching blind students. We do not want to be taught to crunch bubble sheets either.
Here’s the prob: Braille is absolutely essential to literacy and a good social life, a great quality of life being not reserved for the Elitist sighted individuals who make up so much of our world.
What Owens did not write, I will include yet again in this post, but I will in this particular post write a qualification list, a sample job announcement for a TVI in a particular district.
Let’s suppose the TVI job went like this:
Teacher of the Visually Impaired needed for istrict P, must be dedicated to teaching Braille and other skills. Teacher must be dual certified, qualified to teach students who are blind and have various disabilities.
- This teacher prospect must have a college degree in vision studies or disability related studies.
- The teacher must be able to bust myths about blindness in his/her work.
- He/she must be a good advocate for his/her students. Starting pay is …
TVI pay is so bad in places, but the qualifications above may sound ideal. However, they should be absolutely encouraged or required because blind kids are supposed to learn on the same level as sighted kids. While sighted kids learn print, blind kids must if anything learn Braille, period. Why are they not?
Common excuses like I said might include the prevalence of screen reading softwares, audible things and synthetic record/playback speech and devices. No, I’m sorry, but synthetic speech does not replace Braille. Are we getting any dumber?
Braille was invented by Louis Braille, aged 12 at the time, in a French school for blind children. Braille’s father was a harness maker, a guy who was in what the French would call the bourgeoise or middle class. He was good at his job, and was especially a good problem solver. Mr. Simon Braille invented ways for his son to maneuver about the farm and he created harnesses for everybody’s horses in the town of Coupvray, France. It was a good job, but there was only one problem. Simon’s son, Louis, got into one of his awls, one of the cutting tools used to carve the harness leather. He somehow got that thing in his eye and went blind somehow later. However, Louis never stopped wanting to learn, and he struggled with ways to do it in the ways that were appropriate. Valentin Hauy had demonstrated that blind people could learn, but that was a mere kid toy compared to what young Master Braille had in store for the rest of blind history.
Braille invented the six dot system that I would use on a daily basis given my BrailleNote is flat at this time of writing, but when I get it charged, guess what? Yeah, you guessed it, I will read and read and read. Braille enables me and thousands of other blind people in this country to say words out loud written on paper. In the BrailleNote’s case, digital paper. Haha, it seems that people have forgotten what it feels like to read.
Now, Louis Braille invented this system but he does not realize and will never realize that he invented a monster. Yeah, he invented ways for blind people to understand their stuff. Even in ancient times, the blind bard, Homer, could not have imagined being able to finally understand what he/she was writing. Let’s just say that with Braille, I could read anything. Braille itself was first invented for the French language, but Braille himself invented a way to write W so that English and languages using that letter could be codified in Braille. Louis’s alphabet dots really have made a huge difference in the way I understand my world, and I owe it to the French. No jokes about French military defeats. No more jokes about French versus Freedom Fries. What on earth! Now, I’m gonna plop some more info in your little toolkits.
What these education writers must now cover is an obvious literacy crisis among blind people. I was lucky enough to have read Little Women in Braille. How many of you have ever even touched Ms. Alcott’s novel? I’m sorry, but Luisa Mae Alcott wrote this book for prosperous generations to enjoy, and all authors write books for that reason.
Braille invented books and reading for Blind children and adults, but why are the blind children being left behind? I’m sorry, but such things as school expulsions based on blindness are becoming more and more obvious as private school reform becomes what we know today. Anyhow, I have church things to do, so will write further next time.