My experience at New Academy Canoga Park is unique because I have four children, two enrolled at NACP and two enrolled at a non-charter public elementary school. I’d like for all four to be at NACP, but it’s not possible at the moment. Two of my kids have special needs and there are more programs in place at their district school to support them. Being in this position is sometimes difficult because I have to navigate two very different systems, but it’s given me perspective about the different experiences that charter versus non-charter school students and families have.
Even though my children with special needs are receiving more support at their current school than they would at NACP, I have an easier time advocating for my children at New Academy. My opinions matter at NACP. Whenever I’ve brought up a problem or had a question, teachers and staff are quick to find solutions or make changes. At my childrens’ non-charter school, I often have to ask for something several times before anyone listens to me. Sadly, I feel like what I have to say isn’t being considered there. I know that the circumstances are different, classes at NACP are smaller, the community is tight-knit, and the parent center is really active. However, as someone who’s experienced both environments, I can tell you the difference is obvious.
When my children first started at NACP, I was really busy and I thought to myself, “why even go to workshops?” However, I’m now taking the CABE classes and it’s changed my whole outlook on education. I think more about the future now and what I can do to advocate for my kids. I realized that, as Latino parents, we have to make an effort to be interested in our children’s education even if we’re busy because if not they’ll miss out on opportunities. And I often feel like my non-charter school students are missing out on opportunities at their school. So, something that’s really important to me is thinking about how NACP can find more funding to serve special needs students. New Academy has empowered me to use what I learn in parent workshops and find ways to support them in putting more programs in place for students with special needs.