Serving parents from all walks of life has opened my eyes to insidious discrimination in public education in New York City public and charter schools. Parents call me when they are concerned about how their children are doing in school. They wonder if they're right, because teachers and administrators keep putting them off, though some parents call me after they have been pulled aside by teachers and told to get legal help. Generally, no matter what the parent's level of education or income, the parent's sense is correct. And if you're a parent of color, the odds are that no one will take your concerns seriously. I've seen it time and again.
Most of my these cases disturb me to the core. They involve children of color who have undiagnosed learning disabilities that have been completely ignored. Too many times I've had cases involving children of color, specifically, who have been falling behind and their parents' pleas ignored, whether those parents are highly sophisticated or extremely simple. I've sat in the room with New York City Department of Education Success Charter school witnesses and felt the subtle discriminatory attitude of superiority - that these parents had some nerve to ask for help. It's never said, of course, but you really can feel it. And my husband and I are very aware that we experience the world in a very different way. I don't have a prescription for society at large, but awareness is a great place to start. Perhaps if the education system were to truly level the field by being honest about disabilities - all of them, of course, but dyslexia in particular, that would be a start.