FACTS vs. FICTIONS – JKF please stop talking to the media
A response to JK Fernandes comments in Paul Baskenâ€™s article, â€œA Year After Protests, Gallaudet Sees Progress, but Key Dispute Remains,â€ which appeared in the Chronicle of Higher Education (Tuesday, October 16, 2007)
JKF – “The protesters objected to my vision that Gallaudet needed to become an inclusive deaf university, where all kinds of deaf people are valued and respected,” Ms. Fernandes told The Chronicle in an e-mail message on Monday.
Wait a minute â€“ before you said it was beause you were not â€œDeaf enoughâ€ now you are saying its because the protestors objected to your vision?
Protestorsâ€™ official reasons for objecting to Dr. Fernandes as new President were: the search process was flawed and Dr. Fernandesâ€™ leadership style was not harmonious with the campus climate.
Her continual spreading of myths in the media seems to reinforce why a large majority of Faculty, Staff, Students and Community members opposed her â€œleadership as provost and future president.â€
JKF – “The new mission seems to be aimed at creating the opposite kind of university – an exclusive one catering to those who grow up using ASL as their native language.”
Her use of the terms “inclusive and exclusive” do not fit normal reasoning skills.
Are not the stakeholders of this Institution to be included in the decision-making and consensus building in terms of selecting a new president and also establishing a new mission?
It seems the former administrationâ€™s approach was to be EXCLUSIVE in their decision making and failed to INCLUDE stakeholders in selecting their new president and forming their new vision for Gallaudet.
During the march on the Capitol last fall, we saw that the protestors reflected the broadest and best meaning of the word INCLUSION: young/old, gay/straight, deaf/hearing, CI/non-CI, ASL users / SEE users, Deaf-blind/Sighted, a variety of ethnicities, racial backgrounds, and educational experiences, etc.
Yet somehow they continually get labeled as EXCLUSIVE?
JKF – the Universityâ€™s descent into probationary status instead is related to the protests over her appointment as president, Ms. Fernandes said. “The resulting complete disruption to the academic enterprise,” she said, caused the Middle States commission, “as well as other groups, to closely scrutinize all aspects of the university.”
Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE) put Gallaudet U. on probation after finding it out of compliance on eight of the organization’s 14 standards. The MSCHE sited issues with leadership, integrity, and student retention.
Leadership – that means the administration specifically, of which JKF was provost (without shared governance for her appointment for several years, and not the protestors.
It also is about the fact that the Board and administration has TWICE (DPN and UFG) ignored the groundswell of cries from the campus and Deaf community in terms of who they wanted to be President.
Integrity â€“ that relates to administration, deans, and chairs in terms of grade inflation and other ethical decision-making and processes (or lack of in this case).
Student retention â€“ that relates again to how the University was RUN and how student retention was not a priority.
None of these issues fault the protestors themselves.
The citation for probationary status focus on failed leadership / administrative issues.
JKF â€“ â€œMs. Fernandes said that as provost, she had tried to balance English with American Sign Language, and now watches as the “current leadership embraces the use of ASL in a more monolingual context.” That’s a mistake, Ms. Fernandes warns.
Most, if not all, of the studentsâ€™ course work while at Gallaudet has been in English (reading and writing).
Under JK Fernandes stewardship as provost students did NOT need to take a minimum of one ASL course for their core requirements, faculty and staff were NOT expected to use sign language in public areas, and national conferences hosted at Gallaudet were often presented in spoken English with a sign language interpreter present.
How was it that she needed to actually INCREASE English to balance things out???? How can she claim the “current leadership embraces the use of ASL in a more monolingual contextâ€ â€“ the current president of Gallaudet speaks and signs simultaneously. The new mission advocates for BI-lingualism â€“last time I check â€œbiâ€ â€“ was a prefix for TWO not one.
I have never seen ANY Deaf Institute or ANY institute that exists within a majority culture try to instruct their pupils in ONE language only. Every educator acknowledges that approach would be detrimental to the student.
JKF – Deaf students need to learn American Sign Language for their cultural identity, but need to learn English to become “gainfully employed” and otherwise succeed in the outside world, she said.
Duh! I think we ALL know the value of mastering English in our society. In fact under Dr. Fernandesâ€™ leadership Gallaudet graduates had an abysmal hiring record. Was this because she didnâ€™t properly advocate for English or because she prevented EQUAL respect and use of English and ASL as part of the curriculum?
Also, what’s up with regulating ASL to be solely an aid for cultural identity and not having an academic purpose or benefit?
Dr. JKF – have you studied bilingualism – i know u know several languages but do u really understand bilingualism as an accepted and bonafide educational approach?
JKF – The accreditors therefore are correct to ask Gallaudet whether it will find enough deaf students who will want to be educated in an environment dominated by sign language, she said.
“Obviously this relates to the future demographic pool of deaf students in which currently 80 percent attend public schools, and 20 percent attend separate residential schools. Each year increasing numbers of deaf infants receive cochlear implants,” Ms. Fernandes added. “Many of these children will grow up without needing ASL and without exposure to it.”
If true-biz the future children receiving cochlear implants and/or attending mainstream schools will not need ASL (and this has not yet been consistently proven) â€“ then why would they go to Gallaudet University at all â€“ regardless of whether or not Gallaudet is English only, ASL only, or bi-bi. If their hearing, lipreading and speaking abilities are going to make them almost â€œhearing,â€ why wouldnâ€™t they want to go to a “hearing” college?
If JKFernandes is really concerned about drawing in new and more students â€“ the first and foremost thing on her mind should be IMPROVING THE QUALITY AND STANDARDS of the education Gallaudet University provides. This is really what will ensure the future growth and success of Gallaudet University. This will hopefully be a positive outcome of the MSCHE probation. Some good should come out of this turmoil.