Braille Monitor                                                                  November 1985


To Student Teach or Not to Student Teach

by Fred Schroeder

(Fred Schroeder is the President of the National Association of Blind Educators, President of the National Federation of the Blind of New Mexico, and a member of the Board of Directors of the National Federation of the Blind. The following comments appear as part of the President's Message in the Spring Summer, 1985, Blind Educator, which is the publication of the National Association of Blind Educators.)

For more than a year, the National Association of Blind Educators has been faced with case after case wherein blind persons are denied the opportunity to student teach. In each case the university has been eager to enroll the blind person into their college of education, accept their tuition for four or five years, and then at the eleventh hour notify the student that he or she is not competent or safe to student teach. The universities profess that in "good conscience" they cannot graduate the student as successfully completing the course of study necessary to teach. One is tempted to ask where the university's "good conscience" was when it enrolled the student initially or where "good conscience" or, for that matter, reason enters in when denying a trained student the opportunity to student teach based on an assumption that the student will be unsuccessful.

The National Association of Blind Educators has vigorously supported the right of the blind to enter the teaching profession. This fight is not new. For as long as there have been blind people pursuing the teaching field there has been resistance to permitting student teaching. For decades the blind have been battling this problem. Some universities have denied student teaching altogether while others (presumably the more enlightened) have urged blind people to student teach at a school for the blind clearly believing that the only people suitable for a blind person to teach are other blind people. Although the way in which discrimination plays out is nearly endless in its variety, the solution is inevitably the same--concerted action through the organized blind movement. It is why we hold fast to the belief that as long as one blind person may be subjected to discrimination none of us is safe from discrimination.