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EDITORIAL The School Placement Revolution Examination of the April 1991 Reference Issue of the American Annals of the Deaf provides some very important information about the children we serve and where and how we are serving them. Using data from the Annual Survey for Hearing Impaired Children and Youth, Arthur M. Schildroth and Sue A. Hotto reported that the number of deaf children served in our schools declined about 8%, from 50,731 to 46,666, between the 1984-85 and 1989-90 school years. This drop in student enrollment of approximately 4,000 can be explained in large part by the movement out of the public schools of the last group of children deafened by the Rubella epidemic of the mid-1960s. Six years ago, many of these children were still in school. In fact 15%, or approximately 7,500, of students in programs for the deaf were 18 years of age or older, with a high percentage of Rubella-related deafness. By 1988-89, only 10%, or approximately 4,500, of students in programs for the deaf were 18 years of age or older, and relatively few were deaf because of Rubella. The decrease in the 18 and older population in school accounts for most of the enrollment decline over the five-year period. Other important trends that appear to have developed over the short period of five years from 1984-85 to 1989-90 may be noted. First, past assumptions about the decline in the white deaf school-age population and the increase in the "minority" school-age population now seem to be overly simplistic. Over the period in question, the white, non-Hispanic, enrollment did decrease from 67% to 63% of the total, but the black, non-Hispanic enrollment also decreased, from 18% to 17% of the total. This represents a decrease in real numbers. It appears that we have passed a watershed in which children classified as Hispanic (14%), Asian/Pacific (3%), and other (3%) comprise 20% of the enrollment in school programs for the deaf. The data also suggest that we should use terms such as "deaP with caution when referring to the complete set of children for whom information is available. It appears that this population is "less deaf," in audiological terms, than in the past. Using audiological data from 45,733 children, Schildroth and Hotto (1991, p. 157) reported that only 40% of the children have profound losses and only 19% have severe losses. Thus, 41% of children in programs in 1988-89 had less-than-severe hearing losses. Five years prior to that time, 37% had less-than-severe losses. Incredibly, at least to me, 8% of the more recent group was reported to have unaided hearing in the better ear within the normal range! This means that without a hearing aid such children had no more than an 25 dB hearing loss in one ear. As might be expected from this data, the percentage of children taught through auditory/oral only instruction increased from 35% to 39% of enrollment. Sign and speech instruction was used with 60% of children, with sign only, cued speech, and other modes reported for 1% of the enrollment. In short, then, the population of children we are serving is becoming less white—and less black, less deaf, more oral, and younger. Each of these developments has serious implications for our educational programs, but each is of less importance than the virtual revolution in school placement that has unfolded over the past generation or so. Demographically, as primarily a nation of voluntary and involuntary immigrants and descendants of immigrants, our normal situation is one of change. In programs for the deaf in the 1920s, a higher percentage of the children were born in other countries or had parents born in other countries than today. In fact, a higher percentage of children came from families in which a language other than English was spoken in the home. The only difference was that the languages tended to be Italian, Yiddish, and Polish rather than Vietnamese, Spanish, and Lao. The real revolution in education of the deaf is not that we suddenly have become multicultural—we have always been...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1543-0375
Print ISSN
0002-726X
Pages
pp. 307-308
Launched on MUSE
2013-04-22
Open Access
No
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