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April 1, 2002

Czech Home Schoolers Thankful for U.S. Support

When a bill that would nearly regulate home schoolers out of existence was introduced in the Czech Parliament in early February, Michal Semin, president of the Czech Republic National Home School Association, asked Home School Legal Defense Association if American home schoolers could help. We immediately alerted our members to the opportunity to help stop this dangerous measure by personally contacting the parliament.

Within 24 hours, Americans sent the Czech Parliament over 150,000 emails in support of the Czech home schooling movement. A local Prague newspaper reported that the parliament email server was shut down by the sheer volume of messages on the home school issue! American home schoolers then shifted targets and began contacting the Czech embassy in Washington, DC.

Meanwhile, Michal believes the U.S. campaign was a complete success. "So far, we are winning!" he said. "The U.S. campaign has produced good fruit." He added that there was "some angry noise among the parliamentarians because the email letters had pulled down the whole server so not a single parliamentarian could use his personal email account and internet during the whole day. . . . On the other hand, they realize their work is being closely watched not only by Czech home schoolers, but around the world!"

A number of Parliament members told Michal they were impressed that each letter was different and personally written, not simply a copy of one original. They noted this is the first time that any lobbying group was "so well organized and made themselves heard."

Czech home schoolers lobbied the Parliament Committee on Education and provided nearly every member of Parliament with a 10-minute professional video clip on CD-ROM and several documents about home schooling, including two studies supplied by HSLDA. The central—right party succeeded in postponing a decision on the legislation until sometime in April—the last chance to get the bill into plenary debate before Parliament adjourns for June elections.

Michal hopes the legislation will be postponed until after the elections, when a new Parliament will likely be more sympathetic to the home school cause. Although the Communist party is trying to outlaw home education again, there seems to be little chance of this proposal succeeding. "It is good to remind us how evil Communism is," Michal noted.

Finally, Michal said, "Please tell all your members how thankful we are for all their help and prayers!! I wish I could thank each one personally!"