Teachers of blind, visually impaired fear for jobs

TRENTON – Twenty teachers who help blind or visually impaired students could lose their jobs if a proposed cut goes into effect, the Assembly budget committee was told on Tuesday.

A $1.53 million cut has been proposed to the Children Services Department of the New Jersey Commission for the Blind and Visually Impaired, said Anne Marie Cavallo of Parents of Blind Children.  Some 2,400 students are served by the commission, she said.

They suggested looking at cutting rental space and administrative positions, rather than teachers.

“The commission teachers do their jobs extremely well,” Cavallo said.

Commission teachers are contracted by public school districts based on need. They have worked in some 267 districts, she said.

Stephen Cavallo, 14, who has had 19 eye surgeries, said in his testimony he recently was accepted to the Morris County Magnet School. He said he is grateful for the services the commission teachers have provided, helping him to read Braille.  

“Please don’t let them be taken away from the blind children of New Jersey,” he said. “Please don’t take away their services.”

Assemblyman Gary S. Schaer, (D-36), of Passaic, said testimony provided by Stephen Cavallo serves as “a poster child of what government should be doing.”

He called it “appalling” that “bureaucrats” would even consider such a cut based on “ridiculous and abysmal analysis.”

Assemblyman Lou Greenwald, (D-6), Voorhees, called it a “senseless cut” (regarding the teachers of blind students), calling the money “a critical investment.”

“These children can do remarkable things if we give them a chance,” he said.  

“We’re going to work hard (to restore cuts),” said Assemblyman Declan O’Scanlon, (R-12), of Little Silver.

Teachers of blind, visually impaired fear for jobs