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Deaf education vote is the latest parents' rights battleground in L.A.

Los Angeles Times

The Los Angeles Unified School District is poised to vote on a controversial proposal that could reshape education for thousands of deaf and hard-of-hearing students, a key battle in a long national fight over how such children learn language. Oscar winner Marlee Matlin and the American Civil Liberties Union are among those urging the Board of Education to pass Resolution 029-21/22 at its meeting Tuesday, inaugurating a new Department of Deaf and Hard of Hearing Education. Students would be eligible to receive the state seal of biliteracy on their diplomas, and ASL would be offered as a language course in some high schools. The resolution also would introduce ASL-English bilingual instruction for many of the district's youngest deaf learners -- a move supporters say is critical to language equity and opponents say robs parents of choice and runs afoul of federal education law. "For 400 years at least there's been a big battle between people who think children with hearing loss should speak, and people who think they should use sign language -- it's a very old argument," said Alison M. Grimes, director of audiology and newborn hearing at UCLA Health.