Jack O’Connell’s “Guarantee” to send Deaf Kids Home!

12 01 2008

(Note: This is not a transcript of the above vlog. It is different.) Yesterday (January 10, 2008), Jack O’Connell was interviewed by local radio station, KGO-AM 810, on the 6 pm show. California is facing a severe budget crisis and the governor has proposed across the board cuts. For information on what these proposed cuts look like, click on the San Francisco Chronicle and Fremont Argus articles in the “Articles” column on the right side.

KGO-AM does not provide transcripts, but a hearing person typed this partial transcript so we can see O’Connell’s exact words, and they are bone-chilling. They do not say he will close CSD Fremont, CSD Riverside, nor the School for the Blind, but they promise to harm Deaf education in the state of California.The following partial transcript, taken from the interview in sections that relate to CSD:

“We’re looking at a 4.8 Billion dollar proposed reduction for both this year and next year, cumulatively, that’s k thru 14. That translates into about 800 dollars less per student this year than last year. That translate (sic) to about $1900.00 below what other states are doing in terms of number of dollars going per student. For the State Department of Education, we run special schools; your schools in Fremont for the blind and the deaf, and I can guarantee you we’ll be sending students home.”

“The smart approach to this is setting priorities and when you just slash 10 % across the board you’re saying every program is of equal value and I don’t believe that to be the case and I think there are some programs that you are going to make a significant investment in and there are some programs that, yes – maybe you can consolidate and reduce and be a able to survive. Not releasing over 20,000 felons, not whacking public education so we will be laying off teachers. I guarantee you, teachers will be laid off. I’m running the State Schools in California I can guarantee you there will be students sent home. Our blind and hearing impaired students are going to be sent home if this budget stays in place.”

(end transcript)

If this information upsets, saddens, or terrifies you, please watch this site for the action plan. There was an emergency community meeting this afternoon. We have a plan, but we need your help. This means all of you with a stake in CSD, including alumni, parents of students/former students, hearing people with a connection to CSD, Deaf community members (both local and worldwide), et cetera. Please keep an eye on this site for further information via blog/vlog entries.Onward and upward for the sake of Deaf children in California!

shared by Cat Cassidy, alumnae, parent, and community member and by Jenny Cantrell, alumnae and community member, with technical video assistance by Joey Baer, community member




23 responses

12 01 2008
Barb DiGi

This Jack O’Connell has no concept about the value of the Deaf Education program at CSD that uses ASL and English, a bilingual program. I am sure that he is in the need of being educated about the factors that caused low achievers. Jack has to keep in mind that deaf education has a diversified population and those who did not do well in scores were mainly because they received language and education later in age since they did not technically grow up there and not to mention a challenge about coming from families who don’t speak English. I have seen how CSD turned these new students to light that they actually came from a long way. There are factors to consider that cannot be judged alone about this outcome.

Jack is definitely getting a call from me!

12 01 2008

Thank you, Cat, for sharing this information. I had no idea. I will keep an eye out and ask questions. Not only California, but the whole country may be in or heading towards a recession. Thanks for keeping us informed.

~ LaRonda

12 01 2008
Cousin Vinny

Thanks for keeping us informed. (BTW, Hi, Jenny!)

After some digging, I found this PDF file detailing California’s proposed budget for 2008-09, including across the board cuts; (Warning: It’s 937 pages long!)

California Budget Reduction Proposal 2008-09

While I may have overlooked other parts of the PDF file, you all could begin to focus your energies on proposed cuts as detailed in pages 761-764. Altogether, CSD schools face up to $9.1 million dollars worth of cuts. I don’t know if the schools can accommodate such cuts; I’ll leave it to CA people to comment further.

Hopefully CSD schools will come out okay with the budget cuts, and will continue their strong and proud tradition of serving DHH students for the foreseeable future.

12 01 2008
Deb Ann

I HOPE that everything will be succeed! I agree with both of the commenters, Barb and LaRonda.

12 01 2008
Edward Nugent

Calif. should laid off Jack O’Connell and sent him home that way it will save Calif. budget.

12 01 2008


12 01 2008
Cousin Vinny

Slightly OT- Finished skimming through some of the budget reduction proposal; Look at pages 599-601; Looks like CA Deafies may have to live w/o their COLA’s.

More devastatingly, look at pages 591-592; A $581,000 cut to the Deaf Access Program. This is essentially a block grant to Deaf agencies like Norcal, DCARA, GLAD, etc. This cut, if passed, will force these Deaf agencies to reprioritize their staff, and possibly even cut jobs. 😦 Of course, much needed services will be cut, regardless.

12 01 2008
Dave Smith

Jack O’Connell is not ignorant about Deaf Education. This is a quote from his 2007 State of Education address on closing the achievement gap:

“It is a well-established fact in the field of deaf education that the deaf students who are most likely to succeed academically are those children who are born to deaf parents. Children are born into homes where they have access to the visual language of their families (American Sign Language), and they acquire that language at the same rate that hearing children of hearing parents acquire spoken language. Because they enter school with age-appropriate language skills, they are well prepared to develop literacy skills.”


“Many children who are deaf learn best when instruction is provided by direct instruction by a qualified teacher of the deaf, who is proficient in signed language.”

For more. Go see http://www.cde.ca.gov/eo/in/se/agdeaf.asp

When the California Department of Education held their Achievement Gap Summit last November, Jack invited Steve Nover from CAEBER to present on bilingual ASL/English education. Unfortunately Steve was unable to attend when he broke his foot. I was already scheduled to present with him. I was able to get Erica Thompson from CSDR to present on CAEBER and Shari Farinha-Mutti from NOR-CAL also agreed round out the panel with me.

Guess who was sitting in the front row at this presentation? Jack O’Connell. He could have chosen from any other number of about 15 presentations going on at the same time.

Jack is simply stating the facts. There is going to be a big budget cut by the Governator and no department is going to be spared. It’s going to hurt all over. There is even talk of releasing 20,000 prisoners. Yikes!

However, we can appeal to him to reduce the damage so please get in touch with him!

-Dave Smith
CAL-ED President

12 01 2008

Hey, everyone,

Thank you so much for your good wishes and thoughts! Please flood O’Connell’s office with phone calls. That will have a positive impact, and your action is needed.

Cousin Vinny, you ROCK! (BTW, hi back, Todd! :)) A community member is looking at what you’ve found and they’re on it. Thank you!!! $9.1M would be a huge hit, but what’s scaring us is that O’Connell is saying, “Let’s not do a flat 10% across the board. Let’s prioritize. And the State Special Schools (CSD, CSDR, and the blind school) are low men on the totem pole.” At least, that’s what he’s implying. *shudder* THANKS for unearthing this information!

Everyone, understandably there is a lot of anger directed at O’Connell right now, and I include myself among those furious with him. We need to keep in mind, however, the need to treat people with respect. O’Connell is not happy with Schwarzenegger and wants to fight these cuts, as interview quotes in various newspapers makes clear. Though why he’s picking on blind and deaf children in California, I have no idea. In a Chronicle article yesterday, O’Connell says the following:

“I don’t think the public school children of this state are the problem,” said Jack O’Connell, state superintendent of schools. “His plan is going absolutely in the wrong direction – we should be investing more – not less – in our state.” (http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2008/01/12/MNNCUDQTG.DTL&hw=o%27connell&sn=001&sc=1000)

In another article, also dated yesterday, “State Superintendent Jack O’Connell, referring to the governor’s promised ‘Year of Education,’ called 2008 the ‘Year of Evisceration.'” (http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2008/01/11/MNVIUD5V8.DTL&hw=o%27connell&sn=009&sc=669)

Yesterday we discussed what O’Connell’s endgame is, whether this is actually a political ploy and he’s really our ally or if he’s really serious, and all that. We as a community agreed on the following:
1. We cannot assume that he’s just playing games. We have to fight back.
2. We need to focus our fury and outrage not on the man, but on his words and his proposed plan.
3. We need to urge as many of you to pick up the phone/VP remote control/keyboard and make that all-important call to O’Connell’s office. (info is in the sidebar)

(Edit: Thank you, Dave, for the additional information. This is valuable information!)

Onward and upward for every deaf child in this state and beyond!
Jenny, community member and alum

12 01 2008
Barb DiGi


I am getting a bit confused. If Jack really recognizes that “deaf students who are most likely to succeed academically are those children who are born to deaf parents. Children are born into homes where they have access to the visual language of their families (American Sign Language), and they acquire that language at the same rate that hearing children of hearing parents acquire spoken language. Because they enter school with age-appropriate language skills, they are well prepared to develop literacy skills.” and “Many children who are deaf learn best when instruction is provided by direct instruction by a qualified teacher of the deaf, who is proficient in signed language…”, then why is he inclining to the idea that the students are to go home and that the teachers are to be laid off? Frankly, I find your statement a contradictory to what I have read in the minutes (found on previous vlog).

“Continuing his discussion on Reason A, he said we must be prepared to protect ourselves by knowing all possible argument points made by the opposing side. Such as, the opposing side could mention how the Deaf students rate low on test scores therefore, CSD is not effective and not worth keeping.”

… according to Jack O’Connell’s possible tactics, is politics. Jack possibly said it in the interview to “save” us. Within these tactics, we must act by getting the media involved, have the public aware and show our objections to the legislature and show them that CSD is number one. We have to convince them that we are not less than the prisoners and not less than the public education.”

So the question is: Where does Jack O’Connell really stand?

Nevetheless, the Deaf Community will continue to be in touch with him inquiring about the fate of CSD and expressing our concerns.

Thanks Cat for brining this to our attention and I look forward for the updates before I make this phone call on Monday. I just want the facts straight.

13 01 2008
Karen Mayes

Hmmm… disturbing to read about this.

Indiana School for the Deaf recently got the news that its budget was cut at 5% (well, better than 7% last year.) The state government did not take the expanding enrollment into account and it still cut the budget.

So it is forcing ISD to reorganize it budget to make sure the needs would be met and that no students would suffer.

Sad, isn’t it… that the quality of deaf/blind/etc. children’s is not seen at par with hearing children.

13 01 2008

This is terrifying! We live in Texas, but I am still going to contact O’Connell. This cannot start happening – this cannot be the solution! They must keep searching for a different answer.

13 01 2008

Barb and everyone else-

It is great to see us all on the same page, being concerned about the future of CSD and Deaf schools nationwide.

As for Jack O’Connell’s stance, it is confusing. To be honest with you, I think he is our ally unfortunately, his “guarantees” and his “priorities” makes it sound like he isn’t and is an insult to CSD community and Deaf (and blind) kids everywhere. I personally have seen him mention how impressed he was of CSD and really supports us. His website, as posted by Dave, clearly shows his high regards for our school. If you read the whole website, you will see Jack has included the test results, which is low, however, he emphasized that Deaf kids from Deaf parents, who provided visual access to language are the ones that are successful. Therefore, Jack KNOWS what is needed for a Deaf individual to succeed.

I truly believe his comments on the radio, though insulting, was him putting stock into the CSD community, knowing and trusting us, to fight back and win. We are a strong community and the only way to stop this budget cut or this type of attitude from happening is for the CSD to take action NOW.

Clare Cassidy, alumni, parent and community member

13 01 2008
Jean Boutcher

The recession is THE reason. Because of it, the economy is THE reason which may possibly drive deaf children to mainstream schools.

Bush had been secretive for one month until two weeks ago that the USA would face a recession. The first thing I was thinking about when Gov. Schwarzenegger laid down the 2008 budget was the schools for the deaf in California. One of his priorities, he said, would be to release 22,000 convicts from prisons and the rest later.

The economy has plummeted much faster for the last 60 days. We call President Bush a drunken sailor shelling out $1.5 trillion for the Iraqi war. However, It is equally the fault of Congress for not having impeached Bush a long time ago. Now let us see:

Approval ratings:
29% for Bush
15% for Congress

15% ? Yes, that means that 85% of Americans disapprove of what Congress has been doing for the last 6 years, rubber-stamping Bush’s fund bills for

13 01 2008

I think we have a right to be concerned with budget cuts, because there’s always the risk of valuable programs losing their funding.
But, before we put Jack O’Connell in the firing line, I think it’s important to share this with you. I had a hearing friend interpret the interview. I asked her to focus on his tone of voice and everything else, because words alone just don’t convey the full message.
My friend said that the quotes we were given were correct, but the tone of voice was wrong. Jack does NOT want to cut funds to schools. Arnold Schwarzenegger (did I spell that right?!?) wants to cut 10 percent of EVERYTHING across the board. Jack said that we CANNOT cut everything equally. It has to be prioritized and that the future of california depends on our education system. He said that our education system is too important. IF the budget is passed, then people would be sent home, but he does NOT think that it’s a good thing. Jack is AGAINST it. His tone of voice was angry. He’s not happy with the budget proposal.
I think its critical that everyone be aware of this. Jack is not someone we want to shoot down. We need to get him to support us, not work against us. The problem is not in Jack O’Connell’s support. It’s there. He is concerned about the budget and does NOT want to send anyone home.

13 01 2008


Though I am not a Californian, I still have some questions for those who are able to provide answers.

1.) Budget cuts doesn’t happen overnight, it would have taken months to work out which programs should be cut and others kept or increased at expense of less essential programs. So, my question is, did senior officials at CSD get in touch with O’Connell before he went public in his radio interview?

I’m sorry, but as a political junkie, it’s hard for me to believe that CSD was totally surprised by O’Connell’s statement, now, political surprises do occur, but they’re usually are known by key players ahead of public announcements or news stories released. If so, then doesn’t CSD has its own liason officer with whosoever’s in the top position overseeing all k – 12 state schools within its district and at state department of education as well?

2.) What did CSD superintendent say on possible budget cuts involving CSD (and other deaf schools)? I’m aware of the fact perhaps he cannot promote his own agenda publicly, but I’m sure he could provide some sort of factual information on CSD budget and what the state gov’t plan is on budget cuts. I’d like to know exactly where CSD stands as of right now.

I’m sorry that this budget crisis is upon CSD, and hopefully, it’ll survive the scare and perhaps learn a valuable lesson or two from this whole experience.

13 01 2008

Jean Boutcher,

Please do not jump to conclusions. The recession was known by economic analysts long before it occurred, and no President can truly control the US economy, it’s too big and totally unwise to do so. That’s why America was founded upon economic capitalism and free market principles.

Even if we’re in recession right now, every state works out its own budget, federal government has no control over how state budgets are worked out. None at all, other than block grants and certain areas. Bush isn’t at fault for California’s budget mess, if anybody ought be blamed, it’s on Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and the state legislature.

The crisis in Iraq has nothing whatever with how CSD and other deaf schools are being managed. By the way, Iraq was invaded in March 2003, so technically that means it’s been four and a half years since Iraq invasion. Republicans were in control of Congress for only three years from the date of invasion, and for a coule of years now, it’s Democrats who are in control. Therefore, if you truly want to blame, it’s on Democratic Congress, and…on Nancy Pelosi.

Now, having said that, could we please stick with CSD and budget cuts instead of going off the track with Iraq crisis and Bush administration? Thank you very much.

13 01 2008
Karen Mayes

Aaacckkkk… boy we are in a long haul before we get better. I feel bad for the next President who will be spending a lot of time cleaning up the mess after Prez Bush leaves the office.

14 01 2008
Barb DiGi

Thanks Clare for the clarification.

With the developing news in process, I am starting to understand where Jack O’Connell stands. I am really pleased to see how the CSD community gets together to fight back and win. There is no way for CSD students to go home!

14 01 2008
Deb Ann

I hope CSD stays!

24 01 2008
Special Assistant

Is NAD and CAD with us?

24 01 2008
Special Assistant

I just retired from Mayall Elem. School and I just learned that the deaf kids are now being forced into a mainstream pgrm. What is LAUSD (Los Angeles Unifed School District trying to do… They are trying to save thier asses from spending too much money and this is a solultion to use budget cuts? I keep hearing that they need to have budget cuts.. These deaf kids are being hurt with their stupidity as well as all the other political figures. They are NADA in deaf world and the deaf community and what about the deaf blind…? Force them into mainstream schools and classes?? This is absurd! NAD please help us as well as the deaf community too. We”re in the NOW !!!

27 01 2008

Thank you Wizula!
That makes sense now… because the quote below from the passage gives us a clue.

“Our blind and hearing impaired students are going to be sent home if this budget stays in place.”

The last clause is so important. “IF this budget STAYS IN PLACE.” Means: if we don’t get the money under control, we will have no money left for the kids/teachers/schools.

Therefore… the sad thing might occur where there’s a closing.

Make sure we all get involved in our budget.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: