Nebraska School for the Deaf

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Nebraska School for the Deaf
Information
Type Public
Established 1869
Closed 1998
Grades K-12
Color(s) black and orange

The Nebraska School for the Deaf, or NSD, was a residential school for Deaf students in kindergarten through Grade Twelve at 3223 North 45th Street in Omaha, Nebraska. Founded in 1869, the school closed in 1998.[1][2] The school attracted national attention throughout its existence, first for controversial teaching practices and then for its closure.

History[edit]

The NSD was founded in 1869 by a Deaf man named William DeCoursey French on 23 acres (93,000 m2) in North Omaha.[3][4]

NSD was long a site for educational innovation. In 1893 the school's superintendent was cited for his commitment to encouraging teachers to use innovative techniques for classroom teaching, including gender integration and age-level isolation.[5]

The Nebraska School for the Deaf basketball team was the first deaf school to have won an all-classes state championship in 1931, defeating teams from hearing schools to win the title. The team was coached by Nick Petersen, a graduate of he school. [6][7]

American Sign Language controversy[edit]

In 1911 the school was the target of the Nebraska Legislature, which passed a bill that year that banned the use of American Sign Language at the school after intensive lobbying from the National Education Association and Alexander Graham Bell against it.[8] Bell bankrolled the activities of an organization called the American Association to Promote the Teaching of Speech to the Deaf during this period.[9] In 1911 school superintendent Frank Booth was quoted as writing in reference to American Sign Language, "That language is not now used in the school-room and I hope to do away with its use outside the school-room."[10]

Using a rationalization that cited successes of the integrated style of combined signing and speech used in instruction at Gallaudet University, state legislators faced immediate opposition from students and alumni who argued for an identical system at NSD. After four years and several attempts to repeal Nebraska's law, there was no change, and the rule remained in force. Today this case is viewed as a rallying point for the Deaf community in the United States.[11]

Later years[edit]

In the 1970s, George Propp, a school faculty member, examined the spending practices of the school and predicted the school's coming financial difficulties. Discussing the current concepts of Deaf education, Propp stated that Deaf schools "will require a massive application of the resources that exist, as well as the development of technology that lies beyond our present dreams".[12]

In the 1990s the school was the location of an innovative program that engaged high school students as storytellers with primary grade students at the school. The younger children became more involved with literature and the older students learned to select appropriate stories, prepare for storytelling, and select the appropriate communication mode.[13]

Closure[edit]

After the 1997-98 school year the NSD closed due to diminishing enrollment and increasing per-student costs. That year there were fewer than 40 students enrolled at the Nebraska School for the Deaf. Starting in 1984 state authorities at the Nebraska Department of Education attempted to close the NSD.[3] Several organizations, including the National Association of the Deaf, the Nebraska Association of the Deaf and the Nebraska School for the Deaf Alumni Association were involved in protesting the closure.[14] The State was the target of much criticism from Nebraska's Deaf community, including a historic rally in which members of local, regional and national Deaf advocacy organizations descended on the Omaha Association of the Deaf Hall to devise strategies for keeping the school open.[15]

The State of Nebraska has since established regional programs providing services once conducted by the school. The state also helps local school districts pay tuition and residential costs at nearby states’ schools for the deaf for students who require a residential program according.[16]

Notable alumni[edit]

Notable faculty[edit]

Nebraska School for Deaf Museum[edit]

The twenty-three acre campus was sold in 1998 by the State of Nebraska to the Genesis Foundation for $2.5 million.[23] Starting with an attempt to discredit the school in 1984 and leading to the closure of the school in 1998, the Nebraska School for the Deaf Alumni Association, or NSDAA, fought to protect the interests of their alma mater. Today the NSDAA serves and encourages children in becoming more involved in deaf education, heritage and culture statewide, including operating the Nebraska School for Deaf Museum located on the original campus.[3]

Opened in 2001,[24] the museum's exhibits focus on the history of the school, issues in education and communication within the deaf community and contributions made by deaf people in America. Four rooms have been outfitted to show period life at the school, including a 1930s school room, an athletic display, a 1950s teen club and a 1970s dorm room. There is also some art and woodwork created by school students in the early 20th century.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Museum Information", Nebraska School for the Deaf Museum. Retrieved 8/25/07.
  2. ^ "DBC Interviews Dr. William Ellerbee, Deputy State Supt. of the CA Dept. of Education," June 17, 2009. Retrieved September 5, 2009: http://www.dbcusa.org/index.php/Latest-News/DBC-Interviews-Dr.-William-Ellerbee-Deputy-State-Supt.-of-the-CA-Dept.-of-Education.html
  3. ^ a b c "History of Deaf Missions", Deaf Missions. Retrieved 8/25/07.
  4. ^ Gannon, Jack. 1981. Deaf Heritage–A Narrative History of Deaf America, Silver Spring, MD: National Association of the Deaf, p. 41-42 (PDF)(PDF)
  5. ^ Executive Committee of the Convention of American Instructors of the Deaf. (1893) American Annals of the Deaf. Convention of American Instructors of the Deaf. p. 175.
  6. ^ [1]
  7. ^ Gannon, Jack. 1981. Deaf Heritage–A Narrative History of Deaf America, Silver Spring, MD: National Association of the Deaf, p. 42 (PDF)
  8. ^ Humphries, T.L. and Padden, C.A. (2005) Inside Deaf Culture. Harvard University Press. p 59.
  9. ^ Humphries, T.L. and Padden, C.A. (2005) Inside Deaf Culture. Harvard University Press. p 59.
  10. ^ Baynton, D.C. (1996) Forbidden Signs: American Culture and the Campaign against Sign Language. University of Chicago Press. p 25.
  11. ^ Van Cleve, J.V. and Crouch, B.A. (1989) A Place of Their Own: Creating the Deaf Community in America. Gallaudet University Press. p. 138.
  12. ^ Propp, G. (1978) "An Overview of Progress in utilization of educational technology for educating the hearing impaired." Paper presented at the 1978 Symposium on Research and Utilization of Educational Media for Teaching the Deaf." Retrieved 8/30/07.
  13. ^ Reif, D., & Conway, D. D. F. (1991). "It's Storytelling Day: A Two-Way Success", Perspectives in Education and Deafness. 9(4) p 2-5.
  14. ^ "1998 - This Year in Review", National Association of the Deaf. Retrieved 8/25/07.
  15. ^ "Historic Rally Held on Nebraska School for the Deaf Graduation Day", National Association for the Deaf. Retrieved 8/25/07.
  16. ^ McLain, B. and Pennucci, A. (2002) Washington School for the Deaf: Models of Education and Service Delivery. State of Washington. Retrieved 8/25/07.
  17. ^ Van Cleve, J.V. and Crouch, B.A. (1989) A Place of Their Own: Creating the Deaf Community in America. Gallaudet University Press. p. 139.
  18. ^ (1998) "Times Change... Schools Succeed... And Close", perspectives in Education and Deafness: Practical Ideas for the Classroom and Community. 17(2). November/December. Retrieved 10/4/08.
  19. ^ "Propp, advocate for deaf education, dies", Lincoln Journal-Star. July 06, 2006. Retrieved 10/4/08.
  20. ^ Van Cleve, J.V. (1993) Deaf History Unveiled: Interpretations from the New Scholarship. Gallaudet University Press. p. 183.
  21. ^ (1998) "Historic Rally Held on Nebraska School for the Deaf Graduation Day", National Association of the Deaf. Retrieved 10/4/08.
  22. ^ "Singer and Guitar Player Earl Bates", Second Unitarian Church of Omaha. Retrieved 10/4/08.
  23. ^ "Deaf Nation", DeafNation.com. Retrieved 8/25/07.
  24. ^ http://www.nsdmuseum.org/ NSD Museum: History

Bibliography[edit]

  • Knudson, B.G. (2003) "Superintendents of American Residential Schools for the Deaf: A Profile," American Annals of the Deaf. 148. Spring 2003, p. 49-55.

External links[edit]