We never wanted to homeschool. Ever. But then Mr. C was ready for kindergarten at three, and then we learned about A-Man’s autism. Our local schools just don’t have the resources needed to give our kids the best education they could have, so we have decided to homeschool. Simple, right? Well, recently I’ve read a few articles about homeschooling being a privilege and how homeschooling our kids might actually be harming other children. I’ll be honest and say it was like a punch to the gut. We take privilege seriously, but is homeschooling my autistic son hurting other students?
Is Homeschooling My Autistic Son Hurting Other Students
See, the idea behind the articles I’ve seen recently is that when parents choose to homeschool their children, they are allowing the local schools to stay broken. When your local school has poor test scores and low funding, your first instinct might be to pull your child out to homeschool. But your child’s higher test score may have increased funding. See the cycle? Or if your local school doesn’t have adequate special education services, and you take your child out, what does that do for the next disabled child who goes to that school?
Homeschooling is a Privilege
The fact is, homeschooling is a privilege. Even for those of us who never wanted to homeschool, it’s something that many families just can’t do. Whether because they need both parents working full time to make ends meet, neither parent is (or feels) educated enough to provide their child’s education or many other reasons that make homeschooling unattainable.
Homeschooling is What’s Best for My Son
On the flip side, homeschooling is absolutely what’s best for my son. A-Man requires one on one attention to learn, and he wouldn’t be given a one-to-one aide unless he was violent or aggressive. If we put him into school, he would be overwhelmed and would struggle to learn.
With homeschooling, we are able to choose autism-friendly curriculum specifically tailored to A-Man. We can base our homeschool routine off of his natural rhythms to avoid meltdowns. We know when to call it quits for the day, and when to really push towards a goal. The local public school just wouldn’t be able to do that for him.
He would qualify for an IEP, but it can often be a struggle to get an IEP that really addresses each child’s full struggles. Not to mention trying to get the teachers to follow the IEP’s. Not that it’s even their fault, they are often running with way too many students and not enough resources.
Are We Letting Schools Stay Complacent?
By pulling our kids out of public school, are we allowing schools to stay complacent? Are we allowing our school system to stay broken? I mean, A-Man needs to be homeschooled because our district doesn’t provide a one-to-one paraeducator that he needs to learn. By pulling him out instead of staying in the school and working to demand a one-to-one aide, am I allowing our school district to continue not meeting the needs of disabled kids?
The Comment That Really Hit Me
From all of the articles I’ve read recently about homeschooling as a privilege, one comment really stood out to me. “If the neighborhood school isn’t good enough for my son, why is it good enough for my neighbor’s son?”
“If the neighborhood school isn’t good enough for my son, why is it good enough for my neighbor’s son?”
This is really what it all boils down to. When we homeschool our kids because the school isn’t meeting our kids needs, are we just accepting that it isn’t meeting the needs of our neighbors’ kids? A-Man isn’t the only kid in our city that needs a one-to-one aide that doesn’t get one.
Is it fair for me to say “MY son’s needs aren’t going to be met, so we’ll pull him to meet those needs, but YOUR kid’s needs not being met isn’t my problem”?
Should I Let My Son Be a Martyr
On the flip side, should I let my son be a martyr to possibly one day make the local school better for other children? I know it seems dramatic, but it’s real. I may have focused on A-Man’s need for a one-to-one aide in this post, but a school district about an hour from here is currently being investigated for excessive use of restraints and force on disabled children.
Disabled kids as young as kindergarten are literally being put in handcuffs at some schools.
Of course my instinct is to keep my son far away from that system and keep him safe. I want to help change the system, I don’t want to let school districts become complacent and accept this as normal, but can I actually put my son in jeopardy to do it?
There Are No Perfect Answers
Really I guess that’s the whole point of this post. There are no perfect answers. The fact that I’m asking whether to put my son and his education at risk is the very definition of the privilege we’re talking about. I still don’t have a perfect answer.
For now, we will continue homeschooling. It’s what works well for our family for many reasons. While it was never our original plan, we’ve grown to love homeschooling. But I go forward in our homeschooling journey acknowledging the privilege in it. I will seek out ways to be proactive in our local district without putting my kids in the local school.
I will continue to be vocal and speak out for disabled children in all different forms of education. I will do what I can to support our teachers and help promote true understanding on inclusion and disabilities. But, for now, I will do it without putting my kids in our local schools.
I’m dying to know what you think! Do you homeschool, private school, or have your kids in the local school? Do you think that we owe it to others’ children to keep our kids in the public schools?
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