Recently, I had a meeting with Davenport Schools Superintendent Art Tate, Dr. Bill Decker, chief administrator of Mississippi Bend AEA 9 and Kim Huffman, director of Special Education. We met to discuss options for improving the deaf education program in our area. This meeting was very positive and I want to share the information with you and explain how you can be involved.

Because of my experiences with my own children, who are both deaf, I have experienced working through the system, and seeing how the system can affect their academic, language and social development. Dr. Tate agreed with me, and he set up the appointment for us to meet with Dr. Bill Decker and Kim Huffman.

During that meeting, I shared data about language and reading levels for deaf and hard-of-hearing children in Iowa. This data shows that deaf/HOH kids are way behind their non-deaf peers. Dr. Tate, Dr. Decker, and Ms. Huffman all agreed with me that this data is unacceptable, and we need to do something to change and improve. We are currently discussing the option of having a regional academy or magnet program in Davenport, which would also accept students from Muscatine, Clinton and other surrounding areas. This would be a way to pool our resources, and provide a better option for our deaf/HOH children to learn, grow, and make friends with other kids who are like them.

The next step is to find out if this is something that parents want. If you are interested in joining with me to help change the system for deaf/hard of hearing students, please let me know. AEA has asked that I provide the name of the parents and the age or grade level of their child.

Dirk Hillard

Davenport

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