Sunday, February 20, 2005

"Joanne Wilson Resigns as Head of VR Program"

"Joanne Wilson Resigns as Head of VR Program"

[From Fredric Schroeder, who served as Commissioner of the Rehabilitation Services Administration under President Clinton:]

Policy Notes by Fredric K. Schroeder, Ph.D.

Friday, February 18, 2005
Volume II, No. 4

Re: Joanne Wilson's Resignation

Issue: On Tuesday, February 8, 2005, RSA Commissioner, Joanne Wilson announced her resignation. What prompted her resignation and what does it mean for the future of the
public rehabilitation program?

Response: While her resignation does not officially take effect until the end of the month, today is Joanne Wilson's last day in the office. During her tenure as Commissioner of the Rehabilitation Services Administration (RSA), Dr. Wilson has shown herself to be an effective advocate for
the public rehabilitation program and the people it serves. She brought to the position vision and leadership, qualities far too often absent in Washington. She believes that the strength of the vocational rehabilitation (VR) program lies in its ability to change lives, one at a time. She knows this intellectually and personally. As a blind person herself, she faced the fears and insecurities common to people growing up with disabilities. She knows what it is to live in a world that, however well intended, assumes you can do very little; she knows what it is to have a
family that wants to protect you believing you cannot protect yourself; she knows what it is to face discrimination; and she knows what it is to have your confidence eroded, taking what society believes about blindness and learning to believe it yourself....

So why did she resign? On Monday, February 7, 2005, the Department of Education unveiled its plan to close the RSA regional offices. The same day, the Administration announced its intent to seek super waiver authority to allow the block granting of a number of employment related programs, including VR. The next day, Dr. Wilson resigned.

It is my view that she believed these plans, if implemented, would mean the end of comprehensive employment services for people with disabilities throughout the nation and, as a person of conscience, would not--could not--be a part of any plan that would harm people with disabilities.

The above is an exerpt from a Justice For All mailing. To view the whole article go to the Justice For All archives.

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