A proposed budget cut for California’s state-funded public schools for the deaf and blind has alarmed advocates, who say the move may hurt California in the long run by diminishing the employment prospects of deaf or blind young people.
“This is one more thing that affects our population devastatingly,” said Bryan Bashin, director of LightHouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired, a San Francisco-based organization that provides services for the blind.
Bashin said that unemployment among the blind is about 57 percent.
In his proposed budget for 2012-13, Brown called for cutting funding to the California Schools for the Deaf in Fremont and Riverside and the School for the Blind in Fremont by $1.8 million.
Although the schools serve only a small fraction of the state’s blind and deaf K-12 students, they also provide consulting services to school districts, which may have little expertise in how to educate children who have either of the relatively rare conditions.
“It’s a treasure, a resource that if lost would be devastating,” said Bashin, of the 150-year-old School for the Blind.
Bashin said that the blind and deaf communities would be working together to lobby against the proposed cuts.
“The blind community is very networked,” Bashin said.
Students at risk
800 students at the Schools for the Deaf in Riverside and Fremont
66 students at the School for the Blind in Fremont
$1.8 million proposed cuts to deaf and blind schools
$39 billion total state funds budgeted for education
Sources: California Department of Education, California Department of Finance