To Whom It May Concern:
To be a leader, one must have courage, passion, and vision. It is beyond doubt that USDB’s current superintendent has courage; he fears nothing and no one. It is also true that he is possessed of the passion and vision to promote the listening and spoken language skills for Deaf and hard of hearing children (and I use the capitol ‘D’ here to emphasize the specific and separate cultural and linguistic community of Deaf, hard of hearing, and hearing individuals). Yes, he fulfills the three necessary attributes of the leader – but in this case, he does so under only one specific methodology. Unfortunately, he has been chosen the leader of a school with the vision of a dual track. His leadership is therefore ineffective in its current application. Without dedicated support for ALL programs, schools, and classes, the office of the superintendent will continue to fall short of its responsibilities.
Through my years of service to my position, it has become increasingly evident to me that the problem goes much deeper than this office. Quite simply, the system in Utah is broken beyond repair. As long as the current climate remains status quo, the battle will be ongoing for Deaf and hard of hearing students hoping to be educated in their natural language. The attacks on Schools of the Deaf will continue unabated. The students of these schools will forever shoulder the blame for a desperately flawed system – a system that allows students who have “failed” the LSL or mainstreaming approach to be given the opportunity to learn using American Sign Language as their means of communication. Under the current educational structure, “failed” students are given a second track through which to learn, but years of development are lost in the process. As a result of these lost years, these improperly served students of Schools of the Deaf are forced into a game of continuous “catch up.” The culture of “failure” is thusly perpetuated.
It has become evident to me that I can no longer serve an office that continues to blame these “failures” on the student rather than the system itself. Further, I can no longer in good conscience serve a system that views the Deaf community as an enemy to be silenced at all costs. And I can no longer be a part of an office that does not value the individuals most dedicated to improving the life experience of others like themselves.
In my years of service, JMS has become a part of my soul. It devastates me to have to write this letter. I have tried to put my feelings behind me and do what I think is right from within my current position. But at the time of this writing, I have found clarity. As long as I remain in this post, I am hindered in my ability to fight for the ensured success of all students served in the Utah education system. If I hope to exact real and measurable change, I simply cannot continue to work for a superintendent who so blatantly demoralizes the efforts, dedication, and passion of the faculty and staff at JMS. And so with a heavy heart, I submit this letter of resignation. I anticipate my last day two weeks from today and request administrative leave until that date.
While this is a letter of resignation, it is not a concession. I will continue to fight as a Deaf adult for the rights and needs of Deaf and hard of hearing children all across this great state. I will not rest until students such as these have access to a visual language (ASL), literacy skills, and oracy skills.
Jill Radford, Ed.S.