I lost my job. Rather wonderfully it has led, apparently, to a ground-swell of objection from the rest of the staff. They want to discuss it as a group and so I have written the following as, I suppose, a sort of leaving speech. I am reproducing it here because it quite clearly sums up my position on it.
I have been working here since January 2008 and it has never been easy for me. I trained for and worked my first qualified job in a truly Deaf environment with actively policed policies that we sign for ourselves at all times, and that we strive for at least 50% Deaf staff across the entire staff cohort. I have struggled enormously with the extent to which the Academy has been unable to move, even incrementally, towards such an environment.
However I must be honest with myself that such an environment is my ideal from my experience and not something that the Academy, to my knowledge, has ever clearly striven for. I cannot criticise the place for not meeting my particular ideals.
The pressure from fundholders who are necessarily highly naïve about Deaf education and wellbeing is and has always been increasingly severe, and the curriculum and exam systems are established from the outset from a Hearing perspective that is highly detrimental to Deaf students. Within this context of institutionalised audism it needs to be a very special school that can resource itself, and manage itself, effectively enough to push back, politely but informedly, against those oppressions. To do that, the oppressive factors need to be recognised and it is only Deaf people – people who daily live those oppressions – who can identify them. To expect a school with a highly culturally Hearing leadership to identify, prioritise, plan for, and act against such institutional audism – and to lead by example - is as naïve as expecting change from a feminist organisation run by dusty old men.
Being asked to leave came as an enormous shock to me. However, I have been similarly shocked by the sudden and comprehensive wave of relief that I felt within just a couple of hours of receiving my letter. I have been agonizingly conflicted for years between my passion for the wellbeing of the students and my frustrations with the Academy – and being asked to leave, and my emotional reaction to it, has provided me with the unexpected insight that I want to leave now. I guess also that I do not want to work for an organization that does not see value in me, and the letter crystallized that for me.
I am very grateful, and to be honest a little bit teary, for the concerns of the staff and I am sorry that my departure only emphasises those feelings and stresses.
I remain as committed as ever to the futures of our students and hopefully I will be able to continue to support them, perhaps more effectively, as an outsider.
With more warmth than I am bloody used to,