I was disheartened to read a recent news story about the proposed budget cuts in New Jersey, which would slash jobs of teachers of students with visual impairments (often abbreviated as TVIs). The proposed budget cuts, if enacted, would lead to the loss of 20 teachers from the New Jersey Commission for the Blind and Visually Impaired, or almost a third of the already overburdened TVIs in that state. (Learn more about the critical role of TVIs.)
Parents spoke out at a recent hearing held by the NJ Assembly’s budget committee. One mom asked, “Can you imagine having a school and cutting one-third of the teachers?”
It is so important that parents’ voices join the public conversation to advocate for services to our children who are blind or visually impaired. In New York state, nearly 1,000 students, parents and advocates traveled to the state capitol to speak out, and succeeded in advocating for the restoration of funding for the 11 schools who serve the needs of blind, deaf, and severely physically handicapped children.
As Assemblyman Gary Schaer (D-Passaic) said, “Budgets are not simply numbers, but represent people behind them.” It is critical that our lawmakers hear from those people, and know the effect of those numbers. And when the people affected are children, the parents who love them have to speak on their behalf.