WPSD Graduation 2016: Barking Up The Wrong Tree


Barking Up The Wrong Tree

Hunger strike at Western Pennsylvania School for the Deaf (WPSD) was so important to the Deaf Education it represents academic freedom. It is now becoming a central theme in the history of WPSD. The hunger strike must not be more invoked than deeply understood.

Not everyone will agree with hunger strike, but it is essential for three critical reasons: 1) it is necessary for WPSD hunger strikers; 2) it is necessary for the Deaf community; 3) it is necessary for the quality of higher education for the Deaf. I will discuss each reason here. First, I understood the importance of hunger strike—even though I was not a student at WPSD, but I went through same thing at Tucker Maxon Oral School with similar principles.

Hunger strike becomes necessary. WPSD needs to be the place of the free exchange of ideas in the language and culture of the Deaf. Unless students and faculty are provided liberty to use American Sign Language (ASL) without misunderstanding, no genuine higher learning and teaching is possible at WPSD.

Those hunger strikers represent the best of the Deaf community. WPSD was supposed to be the primary source for dissenting ideas and vibrant debate in ASL. Nowhere else are intense intellectual debates in ASL, a common part of Deaf culture. When ASL is not understood, Deaf Culture is silenced.

Dr. Ronald Stern sent the wrong message for graduating students—talking about hunger strike is not an inspirational speech—it is a belittling message in the higher tone. Those graduating students certainly do not need to see that kind of message from a leader like Dr. Ron Stern. The graduating students put on their academic robe; they are scholars—believe it or not. The world needs to see them in this fashion to understand their struggles at WPSD—a flawed procedure leading to select an inappropriate speech by Dr. Stern.

Academic regalia have a history for more than 800 years. In Medieval Europe, scholars in many universities such as Paris, Oxford, Cambridge, etc.—wore gowns. In America, professors and students wore regalia for high school graduations, college graduations, and university graduations. In the past, these academic regalia symbolized scholarship. It is still an open question as to whether academic robe finds its sources chiefly in ecclesiastical or in civilian dress code.

Dr. Stern is a scholar and chooses this presentation in a very misleading and non-symbolic message.

WPSD hunger strikers delineates the quality of higher learning and teaching to attract the graduating students to the academy where ASL was supposed to be their human right. I support WPSD hunger strike from day one.

The deliverance of reasons for the graduation at WPSD does not seem reasonable at all. When asked how the students felt, for example, most of us imagine something about being neutral is a good thing to be. A little democracy reveals, however, that such neutrality would be as bad as the known oppression.



Copyright © 2016 Jason Tozier

This text may be freely copied in its entirely only, including this copyright message.

Time for Chris Wagner to Resign Gracefully from National Association of the Deaf


Plato wrote in Phaedrus (Around 370 B.C.),

SOCRATES: I can tell you what I’ve heard the ancients said, though they alone know the truth. However, if we could discover that ourselves, would we still care about the speculations of other people?

PHAEDRUS: That’s silly question. Still, tell me what you say you’ve heard.

I do not know what to type this right now—yes; I was shocked when Christopher Wagner, National Association of the Deaf (NAD) president represents the heart of Deaf community. There is a reason why I refuse to be part of NAD. When Wagner as candidate for NAD president in 2012, he wrote,

“I am a candidate for the office of President of the National Association of the Deaf (NAD). I believe I am qualified to lead the NAD as its next President….I am in no way comparing myself to any of these great advocates, but I do share in their vision for a better Deaf America. I believe strongly in the NAD – its mission, vision, values and commitment to diversity….. do not take the NAD Presidency lightly. You may ask why would I want to take on anything more, especially after six years’ service as Vice President. The answer is simple. There is always more work that needs to be done. The NAD needs a leader…..” The key word is leader.

In light of integrity as in honesty, Deaf community can no longer pretend that inaction is appropriate or acceptable. It is time for NAD president to come forward and be integrity to this great national problem. It is time for Chris Wagner to use the platform and position to begin a long overdue national conversation about integrity.

In 2014, I wrote an e-mail to Chris if he remembers me from Tucker-Maxon Oral School (TMOS) in Portland, Oregon–and he immediately knew what TMOS stands for—as “O” for Oral—funny how it turns out long before he wrote that to me. In 2012, he wrote in NADmag, Fall 2012, Vol. 12, Issue 2 in the section called “Interview with the New President” in page 26, “….. Raised in Portland, Ore; where I attended Tucker Maxon School for the Deaf. ” I mean, it was written in NAD magazine that sends to 7000 members–and that was not very honest of him to write something like this.


Let’s focus on the timeline, shall we? Tucker-Maxon ORAL School was founded in 1947—and it was NEVER been Deaf school. Never. Wagner was a student from 1967-1980. That’s plenty of time to know that it was ORAL school. Wagner knew it was NEVER Deaf school. That’s a difference. Like I said, he replied to my e-mail in 2014, he wrote “TMOS” and he never typed “Tucker Maxon School for the Deaf”–that was only two years “young” when he wrote in 2012, “Tucker-Maxon School for the Deaf”–hmmm.

IMG_3308Now in 2015, after discovering that Wagner wrote that in 2012, he said that it was his error to say something like that. How come Lizzie Sorkin, the editor of NADmag failed to do her homework? That is BIG “F” on her editorship. In recent video under NADVlogs, “Share: NAD President Asks Community to Become Unified” that was published on November 2, 2015, he signs, “This is probably one of the most difficult messages that I have ever had to give…We all know that these schools are the heart of the deaf and hard of hearing community. Though I didn’t go to a deaf school myself

How come Wagner wrote in NADmag that he went to Deaf school? Not only Tucker-Maxon, but also St. Mary’s School for the Deaf, too. I’m confused. He said that he did not go to a Deaf school—but he wrote that to 7000 NAD members that was supposed to build trust. What’s the catch? This is not just honesty in the presidential slogan, but it is a movement. All across the country, thousands of Deaf students who are in Deaf schools does not deserve a honest leadership from Wagner that they want him to build a political revolution.

Time for Wagner to tell the most difficult message he has ever had to give: Apologize. Do not be like George W. Bush with all his lies in wars for his own political benefit. “The Best Democracy Money Can Buy” written by Greg Palast is exactly what is missing with the best democracy money can buy in NAD that reeks of political corruption, corporate fraud, and financial manipulation.

Now I remember when he was running for NAD president candidate, TMOS, Alexander Graham Bell Association, and Hands and Voice of Oregon helped him elected as president that was later removed from Wagner’s webpage after he was in office. Interesting, huh? It was shame of him to support Donald E. Rhoten from Western Pennsylvania School for the Deaf. Wagner did not follow George Veditz’s mission. What a shame! The same TMOS we attended with the mission that TMOS did not allow anyone to talk about George Veditz. He was bought from AGB’s mission.



Copyright © 2015 Jason Tozier

This text may be freely copied in its entirely only including this copyright message.