The headlines are rife with it…
Here in the UK…
- Someone, and it does not even matter that they are royal, asks an expectant first time father ‘how dark’ his unborn baby maybe?
- An intelligent, strong, and independent woman is forced to surrender her keys, wallet, and passport to her in-laws?
- And yes, a young woman was murdered by a corrupt cop. To make that one worse, he had been investigated for indecent exposure? And victim blaming is pointing a finger at her for walking alone after dark?
Back home in the US… #BlackLivesMatter continue the war for justice and equity, but they are not alone. Let’s not forget Latinos or the First Nations – one of history’s worst genocides.
But prejudice goes beyond just another lesson in self-directed learning, especially in our @HomeCrazzyHome.
This is the last photograph I have of all my children together. Yes, @PanKwake was just a baby then. But note… three blond-haired, blued-eyed offspring, two Latinos, and mixed-race @PanKwake. To that we have have added one Chinese daughter-in-law and one Albanian future DIL. Almost as multi-cultural as Angelina Jolie’s brood.
So, yes, the issue of prejudice hits close to home for us.
And it has affected our family on many levels. But this is an education and neurodivergence blog, so I’ll stick to that topic. Specifically, how racial prejudice as well as class, single parenting, and able-ism have impacted @PanKwake’s learning.
Less than two weeks after de-registering @PanKwake from school, I received a letter from the Local Education Authority (LEA). It contained a form to fill out as well as schedule a home visit with their Home Education Officer (HEO). Naively, I agreed. After all, I had homeschooled four children before, had loads of resources, and a teaching certification myself. What could possibly go wrong?
The answer is…
Despite a glowing report that extolled my plan, the resources, and set-up, I received a phone call from the HEO telling me that he would not be ‘approving’ my provision. The reason he gave was that if he approved it, then the LA would be under no obligation to assist us further. And that based on her behaviors he had serious concerns that something was different about @PanKwake.
Duh! I knew that already and had incorporated sensory processing, autism, and PDA (Pathological Demand Avoidance) into our plans. Though admittedly even I did not account for how PDA would alter our course.
First of all, he lied, or perhaps he was so unaware that he did not realize that both the LA and NHS continued to have an obligation to provide diagnosis and therapies whether a child is home educated or not. But that call sent us down the route of diagnosis, in a mistaken belief that would satisfy the LEA and this HEO.
Three months later he phoned again. He demanded another meeting. I politely explained that we were in touch with CAMHS (Children’s and Adolescent’s Mental Health Services) but there was nothing significant to report at this time. I would be in touch when I knew more and we could meet then.
That’s when he showed his true colors. He informed me that he did not care about diagnosis or @PanKwake’s additional learning needs, he just wanted ‘proof of education.’
I got off the phone. I was fuming. And I learned my rights. He and the LEA had outright lied from the beginning. They do not need to ‘approve’ home education provision. They are not entitled to come into my home or see my child. I wrote a three page letter of complaint to his supervisor and copied in my local councillors and MP. I told them in no uncertain terms – no more home visits.
This fiasco did get me involved briefly with the local home education community, though at the time transport issues prevented us from becoming heavily involved. The first thing I learned – this man was highly prejudiced. And I had three strikes against from the beginning…
- I was a single parent.
- I was on benefits.
- My child was mixed-race.
And @PanKwake’s neurodivergence, or my own, probably did not help. I also cannot discount the cultural differences and British prejudice against Americans.
One upper-middle-class woman even joked that when she had her home visits, her husband took off from work. She and her daughters wore dresses. And she made homemade biscuits/cookies.
Granted I like dresses, @PanKwake prefers skirts, and I make mean-ass cookies. But the very idea that in the 21st century, racism, misogyny, and classism were justifications for harassing us is unconscionable.
Sadly, that same mentally has worked in reverse since we moved to Swansea with Alan. We had one doorstepping visiting from the EWO (Educational Welfare Officer). The moment this man saw the house we live in and that I was white, he could not have been more polite. Differential would be more accurate. Begging that I simply send an email to his supervisor confirming that we home educate. I did as he asked, using that same fir tone and quoting my rights under the law. I have not heard back from them since. And that was over three years ago.
Perhaps you believe it mere coincidence? Except that I know single parents living in well-nice neighborhoods that this same man harassed to tears.
It is not merely that such behavior is unthinkable in this day and age. But it puts children at risk. Local authorities often tout child safeguarding concerns as a justification for home visits. But this double standards means white middle-class children do not necessarily receive the same protection as those of differing backgrounds. To assume that white upper-class parents do not abuse their children is…
Of course, the problem is that as Prince William said…
We are very much not racist.
Or misogynistic or transphobic or able-ist or the dozen of others.
Home education, of course, gives us the opportunity to break these cycles and through more open minded methodologies such as self-directed learning to mentor a new generation who are more tuned in and turned on.
All is not perfect in the home education or self-directed education community. A few months ago, one of the international organization splintered over the issue of diversity. Many of the board members and its founder resigned. So, no one gets it right all the time, even when we try.
But there are some positives, too. In fact, the SDL movement is spawning a new one -adultism. Youth On Board defines that as:
Adultism is the assumption that young people are inferior to adults simply because of their young age. Adults often act on this assumption by limiting our access to decision-making, information, resources, human rights, and opportunities to voice our thoughts.Youth On Board website
I am proud that @PanKwake is one of those radicals. And that @HomeCrazzyHome believes is equity for all.
Tomorrow I’ll look at another issue and its impact on @PanKwake and all women and girls…