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July 16, 2004

US Leaders Help Keep Homeschooling Legal In Czech Republic

While it is often easy for families in the United States to take the freedom to homeschool for granted, many parents in foreign countries are still fighting an uphill battle for that same freedom. Thankfully, families in the Czech Republic can say that they have just won another attack against this freedom in their country, thanks to the help of US homeschool and government leaders.

Early in June Home School Legal Defense Association received an appeal for help from Michal Semin, the leader of the Czech Home School Association, because of a dangerous education bill that was making its way through the Czech Parliament. While the current law allowed homeschooling up through 5th grade, this bill would restrict homeschooling only to situations where families could prove a serious need, especially needs related to health. It was obvious that if this bill was passed into law it would virtually eliminate homeschooling in the Czech Republic, as a family could only homeschool if they could prove serious health issues requiring a homeschool program.

After receiving this appeal HSLDA Senior Counsel Chris Klicka sent an emergency request out to dozens of homeschool leaders across the world asking them to write letters of support to the Czech Parliament on behalf of homeschooling. Within hours 12 to 15 letters had been collected and e-mailed to 17 key members of the Czech Parliament. Michal had also asked HSLDA about obtaining help from friendly members of Congress, and with the help of Tom Washburne, Legal Counsel to Representative John Hostettler, a letter of support for homeschooling signed by several Congressmen was faxed to the Czech Parliament.

The next day Michal reported the good news that the Parliament had voted to postpone hearing the bill until the following Tuesday, giving him more time to distribute the letters of support and lobby the Parliament members. The vote date was later moved to the following Thursday, providing him with an even greater opportunity to personally talk with the members of Parliament about the devastating potential of the bill.

That Thursday all of the support by homeschool leaders, Congress, and HSLDA paid off when the bill was passed with one very important amendment – the removal of the "serious health reasons" restriction to homeschooling. Michal agreed that the letters and e-mails supporting homeschooling had much to do with this favorable outcome, and that the victory has opened up a new opportunity to expand the right to homeschool to include all grades through future legislation.

HSLDA's vision is to see the resources and connections of the homeschool movement in the United States combine with the hard work and faithfulness of leaders like Michal Semin to advance the cause of homeschooling around the world. This combination has proven itself yet again for the homeschoolers in the Czech Republic, and will continue to do so until the day they enjoy the same freedoms US homeschoolers take for granted.