I’m often asked how our parenting actions can impact others? This is a great question with a complicated answer. In this series of three posts, I’ll highlight three invisible spheres which contribute to our privilege footprint:
1. Where we live
2. How we (Mis)understanding educational research
3. Systemic Bias and on-going discrimination**
** There are more – but I’ll focus on these these. Arguably #3 is the most important and I *should *start with it. However, the first two build a foundation.
Where We Live and Privilege Footprints (or Geography, Wealth and Schools)
Big question – What do geography, wealth, and educational equity have to do with parenting and equity?
Are US schools equal?
No – not even close
American parenting is viewed as the full responsibility of families. In fact, needing help from the community and/or the government is considered a weakness. However, this view only works if every family has equal resources and opportunities. In the United States, this is not the case.
We live in a country in which property taxes determine educational funding. Therefore, communities with higher average incomes have significantly more school funding than communities with lower average incomes. Examples in the box with photos to illustrate:
Photos of schools in Berlin and New Britain, CT ~10 miles apart.
New Britain High
photos by Jesse Neider for NPR
At this point, people often say to me, “I worked hard to get where I am!” I have no doubt this true. However, humans routinely overestimate how much hard work contributes to success and underestimate the boosts we receive from family wealth, community benefits, skin color, gender, and more. (This is called the “ideology of meritocracy” - Thomas Shapiro).
Chances are that you, like me, have built-in advantages. I’m white – that alone has opened doors. My family, while not “richy rich”, was able to take out loans to send me though college and graduate school. My children live in a town with a really together educational system.
My privilege footprint has been shaped by where I grew up and where I live now. The same is true for my children.
What can I do today?
Increase awareness by “Going Deeper”
NPR articles school funding inequities
Separate and Unequal Schools (source of photos above)
How did geographic segregation happen? Learn about redlining (video 8min)
Are you really into edu stats on school funding? Bruce Baker is your guy.
His blog is School Finance 101
Brainstorm educational concerns in your parent community.
Choose three and write them down.
* Do you think you think all communities have these same concerns?
* Which concerns are shared , which are not? – why?
* Do any make you uneasy or confused? Why? What doesn’t feel quite right?
Consider talking to your friends and family about their thoughts.