One thing we are struggling with is our schooling options for Drew. Once he receives his implant (hopefully in less than 10 months!), we feel very strongly that Drew needs to be in a preschool program for children with only hearing loss. There are no programs in Columbus for children under age three, so right now we believe that he will be attending an oral deaf education school, Ohio Valley Voices in Cincinnati, three days a week.
By Ohio law, at age three education will become the financial responsibility of the school district in which we live, through a preschool special education program. Since there are not a lot of children with disabilities in the suburban school districts, these school districts all rely on the City of Columbus School District's AG Bell School to provide these services. While we have not yet visited this public school option, we have concerns because they service kids with disabilities in addition to their hearing loss. This means that the teachers will not be able to focus on hearing needs alone.
There is a bill before the Ohio House right now that, if it passes, will allow parents like us the option to choose schooling by use of a voucher. We are actively supporting this bill, since it would allow us to receive a scholarship voucher for Drew to attend the school of our choice, public or private. All of the oral deaf education preschools we have visited are private and not currently funded by the school districts, therefore leaving the financial responsibility to the parents.
We know that the schooling Drew receives once he is implanted and mapped will play the largest role in his ability to mainstream at kindergarten with his hearing peers. For this reason, we wholeheartedly believe that we should be able to choose how to allocate the funds available for Drew's education. Currently, those funds are only available for the public school option. With this bill, we would be able to allocate those funds to a school of our choosing, be it public or private. This would allow us to select a school that specializes only in educating children with hearing loss.
We ask you to look at this bill and contact your state representative to ask for his/her support of this important legislation.