Signing Should Trump AP’s

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Sophomore Patrick White and junior Samuel MacAdam engage in a signing conversation

Jessi Gunn, Staff Writer

Imagine finishing a grueling day of school, 3 tests, an in-class essay, countless assignments, and instead of being able to go home and relax, having to go strait to Acalanes Adult Education center in Tice Valley to take 2 hours of a sign language class.

For some students, this is a reality. In particular, students receiving resource services as a result of Individual Education Plans (IEP) or Special Education eligibility who find traditional world language courses daunting, sometimes fulfill the college foreign language requirement by taking sign language.  They are not, however, the only ones who see sign language as a useful alternative. Freshman, Katie Woolsey said, “A lot of kids are visual learners, which makes sign language an obvious choice for them.”

ASL, American Sign Language, fulfills most college admissions requirements, which usually consists of 2-3 years of a foreign language. Acalanes Union high schools don’t offer ASL 1 and ASL 2 as classes on campus, so students have to utilize the adult education offering on their own time. “It’s kind of annoying having to go twice a week because we have homework,” said Woolsey. “It’s 6-8 at night, plus an hour driving.”

“I would like it to be at Campo, but honestly I like it either way,” said Sam MacAdam. He is doing ASL to get college credits and says that although “it’s a little inconvenient, it’s worth it.”

Some parents of Special Education and 504 plan students in the Acalanes District have been fighting over the last year to have these classes added at the comprehensive high school sites as part of regular course offerings. According to parent Sarah Gunn, who has been actively lobbying for such a course, obstacles include finding a teacher, space on campus, and funding in a budget already stretched thin.

Yes, it is a difficult task, but it’s for such a worthy cause.

ASL would be a benefit to more than just Learning Center students. Kristen Leete teaches ASL at Acalanes Adult Education Center, where a number Campo students attend her course. Leete also teaches ASL 1 and ASL 4 at Foothill high school. At foothill there are 350 students enrolled in the different levels of ASL classes, and they are a mixture of Learning Center kids, athletes, and AP/honors students. “I think ASL should be at all schools across the board,” said Leete.

Parents of Special Education and 504 students argue that the school needs to appreciate all of Campo’s students, not just the AP and honors students that boost test scores. Some parents are angry that AP classes, like newly added AP Art History, are receiving funding when there are greater needs elsewhere.

We don’t need to add more classes for the students that already have a broad range AP options, above and beyond state requirements, when some students don’t have their basic needs met.

Our school is in need of ASL classes instead of more AP’s.