Wilson cuts ASL I class

Maren Dunn, Olivia Loomis

Wilson shrunk the American Sign Language (ASL) program, cutting ASL I and leaving the school with only one sign language course. The change has frustrated students, who reported a reduced level of productivity in the class.

Principal Martin stated that the program was cut because ASL teacher Dorothy Smith had transferred from being a language teacher to a special education teacher, and could thus no longer teach two periods of ASL. “The teacher who taught ASL moved from ASL to special education,” Martin said. “She wanted to focus on special education students.”

Smith, however, was unaware of the administration’s rationale for the cut. “I myself am understanding that it’s funding and lack of teachers [that led to the class being cut],” she said. “When I am out sick, there is no one to cover me.”

A lack of interested students could also have led Wilson to remove the ASL I class. The current size of the remaining ASL class is around 27 students—large for a single class, but very small if divided into two classes. Last year, roughly 60 students were enrolled in the two classes. The class is officially titled ASL II, though the ability level is mixed.

ASL students were frustrated by the change, stating that one class cannot adequately serve their differing abilities in the language. “People of all different levels have to be in the same room, which means that the advanced students have to relearn the alphabet and the numbers for the millionth time,” said junior Ava MacKaye, a student in the class.

Smith also offers an ASL club, as well as an additional class after school on Wednesdays. DCPS is not compensating her for these extracurricular ASL opportunities.