Monday, March 7, 2016

Homeschooling Panel Review Part 2: Creating Homeschooling Support for Families of Color in Los Angeles

The purpose of the panel was to begin to give another option to education for working class families of color.  As Ticicalli many of us are struggling mothers of color and saw there was a need in our community in comparison to more affluent white community that has already built for years a stronger support network.  Our need is not to divide ourselves but to find ourselves and find support within our own people.

It was stated throughout the panel that homeschooling is extra challenging for families of color. It is more challenging one because of families and friends often do not approve so they do not support us in this journey.  Many of our families and friends judge us and often straight out say "This is not for you, it is only for rich white people."  There is a reason for this lack of support. For many black families it is part of they gained through the civil rights movement, access to free and "equal" education.  People died in order to integrate and receive a perceived equal education and then you choose to homeschool.  The same goes to brown families, many of our families died to cross that border to chase the 'American Dream'.  Black and brown families often are seen as we are disrespecting our elders struggle and hard work by refusing classroom education and choosing the homeschooling path.  They take our decision personal and it angers them.  This anger comes from a place of fear.  They fear that all their sweat, blood, and tears to give us a better life was in vain and we will not succeed in this country, but they do not know that success may look different to us.

For all homeschooling parents there is also a question validity in our ability to teach our own children.  In families of color the issue of validity is greater because we may be less institutionally educated or due the fact that we are of color we are seen as less intelligent to society because our ancestral knowledge is seen as ignorance.  This may not apply to all families of color in this journey but it does too many of us even those of us already in the path of self discovery, that doubt still stings sometimes. Being surrounded by other families with these same struggles will make us more secure in our homeschooling journey.

Both panelists and audience members had many reasons for wanting to homeschool.  Some stated that had planned this since even before their pregnancy.  Another stated it was due to having a child with a chronic illness and another parent had a child actor, both requiring many absences which school would not allow to make up or catch up.  An audience member brought up that now with the new California vaccine laws requiring all students in schools to be fully vaccinated, many of these parents are having to face whether to catch up on loads of vaccines at once or just pull their child out of school and figure out this homeschooling thing.  A teacher in the audience expressed how with all these bells and tests she is unable to teach what she feels it is important to her students and their lives.  Often the district and the state create more barriers to learning giving both parents and teachers not much of a choice.

On the panel we also had an adult that was homeschooled all her life, except for 2 days which she hated and never attempted again.  Unlike the stereotypes we hear, she was able to learn to read and socialize.  She stated that homeschooling helped her discover who she was and what she loved.  It helped to expand her creativity because it allowed her to do what she wanted without restrictions of time.  She and her family were also able to do this because they found a support network within other homeschooling families.  She said that families took turns teaching something.  Her mother an artist taught art.  She stated that it is important to build community network with like minded families where you may organize each other so the journey may be less painful.  We need to organize and support one another so that this may be a choice for all including single care givers and low income families.  We do not have to do this alone because together our struggle will be less. The panel was inspiring and empowering; to see families connect, network, share stories, and resources.  We are beginning to create community support!

Thank you to all panelists and audience members that attended, especially the children.  And to all those that did not attend but have reached out asking for more events like this one or have shared your resources.

Below is a list of co-ops or groups around Los Angeles that our friends have shared, we hope they are helpful.

Homeschooling Association of California

Anahuac Cultural Center For Self Sustainability, East Los Angeles

Flying Birds Community School

Los Angeles Unschoolers

East San Gabriel Valley Homeschoolers

Homeschooling Southern California

Multicultural Homeschooling Network

Unidos Homeschooling Co-op in Santa Ana