Home School Court Report
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by Michael P. Donnelly
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If you follow Home School Legal Defense Association’s international work, you know that the global homeschooling movement is growing. In countries like Mexico, the Philippines, and Canada, where the government respects the family’s role in education and the right of parents to make decisions about how their children learn, homeschooling is thriving. In other countries, however, government-sponsored persecution has constrained growth.

Homeschooling is currently illegal in Germany and Brazil, and heavily restricted in Sweden. Parents who attempt to homeschool in such countries frequently face hefty fines, court battles, jail time, or the removal of their children from their home. In addition, a number of countries around the globe seek to severely limit parents’ right to make decisions about their children’s education. These countries include Bulgaria, China, Greece, the Netherlands, Romania, and Spain. Even in countries where there is greater liberty to homeschool, families must continue to fight against an ever-encroaching centralized state to maintain their parental freedoms.

HSLDA Staff Attorney Mike Donnelly
HSLDA Director of International Relations Michael Donnelly.

Hand-in-hand with the growth of international homeschooling comes an increasing need for mutual support, encouragement, and coordination—such as United States homeschoolers have experienced. U.S. homeschoolers are blessed with freedom like few others. Although this freedom came only after much effort and battles in courts, in legislatures, and with educational authorities, homeschooling is now a major force in American education. Today, with over 2 million homeschooled students, we have developed an unparalleled level of experience in and body of research on homeschooling. Crucial to our success has been the fact that families all across the country have stood together over the years, supporting and encouraging one another and maintaining unity in the face of opposition.

There is strength in numbers and it makes a difference to know that you’re not alone. In countries where government authorities are hostile toward homeschooling, it is easy for homeschoolers to feel isolated and abandoned. In other places, while homeschooling may be legal, it is not well understood by society and in many cases is viewed negatively by family, friends, and the general public.

As homeschooling gains popularity from North America to South America and expands across Europe, Africa, and Asia, homeschooling leaders from eight countries—Canada, Germany, Mexico, the Philippines, South Africa, South Korea, Sweden, and the U.S.—are organizing a global home education conference. A major purpose of this conference will be to positively impact public policy and the public perception of home education. The conference seeks to provide a means by which academics, homeschoolers, homeschool organization leaders, and public-policy makers from around the world can network and provide meaningful mutual support and encouragement to achieve these goals. HSLDA and the Home School Foundation are pleased to support this conference, along with numerous other sponsoring organizations and individuals who agree that homeschoolers around the world should work together to protect the fundamental right of parents to choose what kind of education their children will receive.

The first Global Home Education Conference is scheduled for November 2012 in Europe. The conference board believes that Europe is the best place to hold the first conference, because that is where homeschoolers are under the most attack by an increasingly hostile state educational apparatus that seeks to control the values learned by children in an effort to “homogenize” society. We hope to attract as many as 300 homeschool organization leaders and influential activists from each of the six major continents. Attendees will include home educating families, movement leaders, academics, and key public-policy makers. We are pleased that several key educational policymakers in European governments have agreed to address the participants and to call for greater freedom for homeschoolers in countries where they are currently repressed or persecuted.

How is this relevant to American homeschoolers? Ideas have consequences: the idea that the state should bear the responsibility for raising and training children is becoming a pernicious and pervasive concept not only in international educational and governmental circles, but also in U.S. courts and legislatures. Numerous laws and treaties—including the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child—actively seek to place more control over children into the hands of the state.

In contrast to state-centric child education models, homeschooling by definition encourages and requires the direct involvement of parents in the lives of their children. Regardless of geography, the homeschooling movement reinvigorates and reempowers the institution of the family. Homeschooling provides a staunch countermeasure to the state’s encroachment into the traditional realm of the family.

An integral mark of a free society is the ability of parents to make decisions regarding their children; we must protect this freedom. That is why the Global Home Education Conference is so crucial. By connecting homeschool advocates, supporters, activists, and practitioners, we can advance liberty and influence policymakers more effectively. This conference is a significant first-of-its-kind event.

If you agree that this conference is important to advance liberty and home education, please partner with us and become a sponsor. Individuals, organizations, and corporations are welcome to participate in sponsorship. Visit the Global Home Education Conference website to learn more about how you can become part of this exciting inaugural event.