News From 1969

The Cedar Valley Daily Times
Thursday, August 7, 1969


By Norma Blackmer
Daily Times Staff Writer

Robert Hansen, who has been affiliated with the Iowa Braille and Sight Saving School 4 ½ years, submitted his resignation in May, effective Sept. 1, and will leave Vinton at the end of the month.

He was somewhat vauge on his reason for leaving Vinton and IBSSS. but said. "In a recent letter to parents of students, I stated my regrets in leaving but that I had no choice." In his resignation, Hansen said. "In view of certain circumstances involving the Iowa Braille and Sight Saving School I feel at this time thatt the future of the students and the school can be best served by new leadership. The many pressures and demands of the position arc now becoming more than I wish to bear."

While at IBSSS. Hansen began the Instructional material center, exploratory into progress programming, increased the staff, initiated the summer school program, which may not continue next summer due to lack of funds, and a 10-year building program, winch has become a long-term program.

One program which Hansen proposed, the continuous progress program, is expected to be in full operation in two years. In this program as much as possible is learned about each child. IBSSS will run on a modular schedule that enables the child to progress at his own speed. This allows maximum education to each student.

Hansen believes that a blind person with a good education can function in society as a normal individual if sight is not demanded. He feels that a young blind man should be allowed in the Armed Forces to work with X-rays, in the darkroom, hospital or typing; things which they already know how to do.

Two years ago the members of the National Honor Society at Washington high school got the students involved in going to games and dances at the high school. Starting this fall two blind students will attend physics class at Vinton high school.

"With a new man coming in I sincerely hope the parents, community and citizens will allow this tremendously good program to continue as it is and continue the progress we have going." Hansen said.

Hansen was born in Sioux City but was brought up in Kansas City, Kan., where he graduated from high school. He spent two years in the Air Force, then received an honorable discharge. He received his BA degree at Dana college, Blair, Neb. in 1952, majoring in psychology and history with a minor in English. He received his MA degree at the University of Missouri in 1964 in guidance and counseling. He has done graduate and undergraduate work at Kansas University and graduate courses at Omaha University and the University of Northern Iowa.

Hansen taught high school in Blair, Neb. two years as a social science teacher, librarian and yearbook sponsor. He spent lO ½ years at the Kansas State School for the Blind as social science, speech, dramatics and senior English teacher, librarian and field representative for 11 summers. He was principal of IBSSS for half a year and superintendent four years.

Hansen will be a non-resident student at the University of Texas on a complete federal fellowship to obtain his doctors degree. Plans after that are indefinite. He will either return to a residential school as an administrator, work In a public school or teach at the college level.



Cedar Valley Daily Times
Wednesday, November 26, 1969


Acting Principal says IBSSS opposes change in jurisdiction

By Bill Monroe
Daily Times Editor

Mary Ann is a hypothetical student at the Iowa Braille and Sight Saving School. She is concerned today. Concerned about her school, her education and her future. At a special assembly Wednesday morning she learned that a bill will be introduced to the Iowa Legislature early in January which would place her school under the control of the Iowa Commission for the Blind. Mary Ann was told that the students and administration of 1BSSS would be fighting this bill, and she is eager to do her part to stop this piece of legislation.

Mary Ann and all of the staff and students at the Vinton school have good reason to be concerned. The Commission has repeatedly attacked the school during the past few years, and now is making a move in the legislature to gain control of the institution.

Located In Dcs Moines

The director of the Commission, located in Dcs Moines, Kenneth Jernigan, has publicly attacked the school on a number of occasions. Mrs. Dorothy Petrucci, acting principal of IBSSS. defended the school's position concerning Jernigan's points of criticism.

Jernigan has stated that if the Commission gains control of the school, he would be able to save the state $100,000 a year. The savings would result from eliminating duplication of materials used by both the Commission and the school. Mrs Petrucci said that it is often necessary to prepare materials for classroom use immediately, and it is more efficient to make such preparations at the school.

As an example, she said that teachers who want to give their students test may type the test and send it to the Commission in Des Moines to be prepared for the blind students. The material has to be prepared in Braille and in large print form for the students. Both the Commission and the school are equipped to make such preparations, but if the school decides to let the Commission do this work, it may take up to four weeks before the material is returned to the teacher. Mrs Petrucci says that in most cases this is too long for teachers to wait, so they prepare the material here.

Reading material is also prepared by the Commission on audio tapes for the student to use. But there is also often a lengthy period between the time the school orders the tapes and the time the tapes arrive. Mrs Petrucci said that a group of volunteer readers in this area can get the material on tape and to the students much faster and at no cost.

Mrs Petrucci said that the school uses the Commission's material whenever they are sure that it will arrive by the time it is needed, but when material is needed for immediate use, the school prefers to prepare it.

Jernigan has also said that the graduates of IBSSS leave the school with inferiority complexes. Mrs Petrucci believes that these students leave with the emotional attitudes of any normal teenager. She pointed out that all teens are self-conscious and that this is the period in life when the most emphasis is placed on the physical qualities of a person. She said the blind teen may be concerned about his appearance as a blind person, but no more concerned than a sighted teen worried about a birthmark, scar or mole.

When Jernigan first meets the IBSSS graduate at the Commission, he is meeting a young person who has just left the security and familiarity of the school he has attended most of his life. Like the sighted teen entering college, the blind student feels insecure, but no more so than the normal child. Mrs Petrucci said.

Jernigan has said that rehabilitation should go hand in hand with education and he has implied that IBSSS is lacking in a rehabilitation program. Mrs Pctrucci says that this is merely

a matter of sematics. There is a good deal of rehabilitation at the Vinton school but it is categorized as part of the educational process. Since few students come to the school partially sighted, most of this training would have to be classified as habilitating and not rehabilitating. Students are taught to use canes, read Braille and cope with their emotional problems. This training begins when the child enters the school, often at age five. IBSSS does habilitate, Mrs Petrucci says. In fact, book learning is only a minimal part of the total IBSSS program.

Jernigan has blamed the school for not accepting a rehabilitation counselor from the Commission. Mrs Petrucci said that the school originated the idea of obtaining such a counselor. The Commission agreed to supply the counselor on the condition that he be allowed to teach a course in the attitudes toward blindness. Since the basic philosophies of the school and the Commission differ so widely on this topic, the school refused to accept this condition, and a counselor was never hired.

Jernigan also has said that the Commission can offer the blind student much better library facilities with their library for the blind. Mrs Bonnie Baker, IBSSS librarian, said that the school library usually is sufficient for the needs of the 150 students at IBSSS. When it does not have the literature needed by the students at the school, it can borrow the books from the Commission's library. Mrs Baker said there was no record of how often the Commission library was used by the IBSSS student's, but that it was a common occurrence and that the frequency of such borrowing-depends on the- needs of the students. She added that one of the functions of the Commission library is to provide the school with this material when it is needed.

While Jernigan advocates Commission control of the school, the State Board of Regents and the school prefer the control to rest with the Regents. By being under the control of the Regents, the school is able to utilize a number of services offered by the other state institutions controlled by the Regents. A few of these services include the use of the Child Development Clinic at the University Hospitals in Iowa City, psychological services, speech and hearing evaluation services, orthopedic service. student teachers and other services in the area of otolaryngology, orthodontics, nutrition consulting and hospital care.

"What many people fail to realize." Mrs Petrucci said, "is that many of our students have other physical, emotional and psychological problems. These also need to be attended to, and we need the expert treatment that the state institutions under the Regents can provide."

Mrs. Petrucci said that the school's new superintendant. Dr. Frank Rocco, is a devoted man with many ideas for the future of the school. Her main concern was that Dr. Rocco be given the time to initiate his ideas and his new program.

If the Commission-backed legislation is passed, however, the school will never have the opportunity to benefit from Dr Rocco's ideas.



The Cedar Valley Daily Times
Wednesday, December 10, 1969

State Representative calls for removal of Kenneth Jernigan

State Rep. Vernon A. (Bud) Ewell, a special education teacher in the Waterloo school system, has called for the replacement of Kenneth Jernigan as head of the Iowa Commission for the Blind.

In a statement Ewell said "perhaps the time has come to replace Mr. Jernigan as Director of the Commission. While his efforts on behalf of, the rehabilitation of the blind in Iowa are most impressive communication is a two-way street and perhaps Mr. Jernigan is not disposed to travel the  necessary miles."

Jernigan, who became director of the Iowa Commission in 1958, has launched an open campaign for the change of control over the Iowa Braille and Sight Saving School at Vinton from the Board of Regents to the Commission, He has claimed the school is inadequately and poorly managed.

Rocco Praised

Rep. Ewell, a freshman Democrat in the Legislature from Elk Run Heights, stated that, "I am convinced that the school should not be placed under the jurisdiction of the Commission. Under Dr. (Frank) Rocco's leadership the school is incorporating the most modern educational methods within their program of individualized instruction."

Rep. Ewell further stated that "My experience as an educator and special education teacher leads me to believe that the school's philosophy of using the existing vision of the student to his educational benefit is most sound. To require partially blind youngsters to use Braille when they can use their limited vision with or without aids is to retard their educational growth."

Raps Philosophy

The Commission philosophy, according to Jernigan, is for all partially sighted pupils to be completely competent, as well as dependent, upon the Braille system.

Rep. Ewell concluded that "To require the same youngsters to put on blindfolds and function as totally blind persons (ed: as is Commission philosophy) is to ignore the motivational aspect of learning, that being, learning is most meaningful when the learner has a purpose. The; partially blind student may see no purpose in functioning as a totally blind person."



the Cedar Valley Daily Times
Friday, December 12, 1969

County legislators discuss IBSSS
control issue with Benton educators


Benton County's voices in the Iowa Legislature spoke to the Benton County Education. Association on a variety of topics relating to education Thursday night. State Rep. David Weichman of Newhall and Sen. Charles Balloun of Toledo addressed the association in the community room of the Benton County bank and then conducted a question-answer period. Elmo Baxter of the Vinton Community School system served as moderator

The two legislators briefly reviewed the last session of the Legislature and then expressed their opinions on what they were expecting out of the 1970 session.

The bulk of what was said at the meeting came from the question session, however. One of the first questions was directed at Rep. Weichman and concerned the Iowa Braille and Sight Saving School. An IBSSS teacher referred to a Daily Times article which stated the position of Sen. Balloun and asked Weichman to make his stand clear on the IBSSS control issue.

The representative said that he was in full agreement with Balloun and that he supported maintaining control of the school with the Board of Regents.

Later both men were asked what specific measures they could take to see that IBSSS control was kept with the Regents and not turned over to the Iowa Commission for the Blind. Sen. Balloun said that he had asked the Budget and Finance committee of the Legislature to take a stand on the matter. He said that he really wasn't sure if this was the right committee to urge to take a stand and he didn't know if they would be taking a stand in the next session.

"It is my personal feeling," Balloun said, "that it is going to be hard for Commission Head Kenneth Jernigan to sell this idea to the members of the Senate and House. Even though the attitude in Des Moines, seems to be pro- Jernigan, selling the idea of rehabilitation with education would be difficult selling job."

Commenting on Jernigan's attempts to promote the program of the commission, Balloun said "We all oversell to some extent. I believe that Mr. Jernigan is an ambitious and enthusiastic man and I don't hold this against the man, but I do hold something against those who don't know the difference between salesmanship and ability. I think the members of the 1970 Legislature will be able to make this distinction."

Rep. Weichman made no comment on specific actions he planned to make on the matter to the group, but when questioned after the meeting, he said that all he thought he could do was express an opinion to the members of the Legislature. He added that he was anxious to receive any and all information on the matter and agreed to meet informally with a number of IBSSS faculty members.

Other matters discussed by the legislators at the meeting included Iowa Public Employees Retirement Service benefits and teacher negotiations bills.

When asked about federal funded programs for education, Sen. Balloun indicated that he believed such programs are a "shotgun approach," to the problem of "financing" quality education. He said Iowa would be better off if they could take the federal money and spend it in areas where it was needed most rather than in areas designated by the federal government.

Commenting on what educators could do to help elected officials in the Legislature. Rep. Weichman said they should make an effort to "let us know what you are interested in an if you are fighting for a cause, how the outcome of that fight will affect you."