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One Lucky Child - Dealing with My Privilege Footprint

How to manage our privilege footprints?

If our actions impact others – what in the world can we do? To begin, I want to share a personal story. I have three children and until this year, they have attended public schools. Well... except I homeschooled my two oldest for middle school – but that’s another post!

This year, my oldest moved to a small, private school. It’s a perfect fit. Small classes, kids from all over the country and the world, an advisor matched to her interests with whom she meets every week. She loves science and math and she is geeking out on science and math. This is one lucky child.

Already, you see the contours of my privilege. My children were homeschooled by two adults with deep knowledge of, and experience in, education. And now – in the middle of a global pandemic - we are able to send our oldest to a private school.

Of course, my oldest is lovely, smart, fantastically talented (right? No bias here! ; ). She works hard and loves learning. However, I’m sure there are other children who are just like her but without the same opportunities. We have given her a substantial educational boost – not because she is substantially different from other children, but because we can. My privilege footprint has increased educational inequity. This disproportionately impacts children who are black and brown. (want more on this? Watch for a future post.)

So – that is a very uncomfortable “real life” example of my privilege footprint and I feel a constant tension between what my children need and what all children need. Unfortunately, addressing privilege is not a simple problem and there’s no simple solution. However, below are some imperfect and incomplete ideas to get started. If you decide you’d like to explore these ideas in depth, please sign up for my 1 hour workshop on Parenting for Equity.

* Read, learn and build awareness of educational inequity.

* Focus locally – what does this look like in your community? Below are three questions to consider about equity issues in schools. **

* Take outward facing actions

- Sign petitions

- Advocate locally

- Join or create bookclubs focused on local equity issues and/or “anti- racist parenting” (contact me for ideas)

- Volunteer locally. Make a difference in your community.

- Donate to organizations advocating for equity

- Research your child’s school. What are the issues? Where are the inequities?

- Have hard discussions. Talk to your friends and family about these topics - listen to them.

* Take inward facing actions. These are my questions and answers.

o How does my privilege footprint impact schools? My community?

§ I provide my children with extra educational resources beyond what most other children have.

o Does my voice take up more than my fair share of space?

§ Yes – I think it probably does. I’m comfortable sharing my perspectives in my community and people listen.

§ If yes, how can I make space for other people – especially those whose voice is not heard?

* I’m working on this.

o How can I talk to my children about these issues?

§ Read more about anti-racist parenting.

§ Talk to them about how systems can be unfair.

§ Answer their questions as best I can. It’s ok to say I don’t know – ‘cuz sometimes I don’t!

§ Tell my children to use their good fortune to help others.

* Walk into discomfort. Pay attention to what makes you feel uneasy because often that area needs deeper consideration.

**Questions to consider equity issue. Think about your child’s school or district:

1. Which families and students feel most at home at my child’s school and which do not?

2. Which parenting and educational norms, values, and perspectives does my child’s school prioritize and why?

3. Which parent voices are heard in educational circles in my community? Do some parents have a bigger voice? Do some have less voice? Do these differences in voice impact district/school level decisions?

Questions are adapted from Bedelia Nicola Richard’s article.

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