The State is the Parent? 2020—a Vision for Homeschool Freedom
by Mike Donnelly • December 17, 2019
Even as homeschooling continues to expand in the United States, around the world the movement is growing at a rapid pace and many governments are responding favorably.
Breakthroughs in Ireland, Ukraine, Lithuania and Brazil are just a few of the highlights of the last year. In Ukraine and Lithuania home education gained legal recognition. In Ireland, courts pushed back against attempts by government regulators to increase restrictions. In Brazil, the national congress initiated the first formal steps towards passing a law that legally recognizes home education.
Inquiries from parents and civil society leaders are increasing. The languages are different, but the questions are the same. How can we influence our government to respect our rights to educate our children? How can we reach out to parents in our country so they can learn about the benefits of homeschooling? What about socialization and academic outcomes?
It’s affirming to see that although cultures, boundaries, languages, religion, and governments may be different, parents everywhere share a common bond—a love that motivates them to seek the very best for their children. I think that this is the essence of home education and why it is so successful.
Safe and Encouraging
I wrote recently about a homeschooling parent I helped in West Virginia. I concluded by asking: Who wouldn’t be successful in a safe, nurturing environment where curiosity is encouraged, curriculum and instruction are tailored, and learning is about helping a child achieve his individual best?
As parents hear about this educational and social movement, society is mobilizing in support.
In November 2020, the fourth global conference on home education will be held in Manila, Philippines, where homeschooling has been a growing movement for at least 20 years. We expect the event will prove to be the largest global homeschool conference ever, attracting thousands from nearly 50 countries.
Drawing on multi-national support, the organization is coalescing around the idea that home education is a right for every family. The Global Home Education Exchange (ghex.world) is working to connect leaders, policy makers, researchers and parents in order to equip and encourage them with best practices and information.
In October 2019 the first African conference on home education was held in South Africa (ghex.africa) where legislation that would impose significant and unnecessary burdens has stalled. Participants from many African nations demonstrated high interest in this new approach to education. National media in South Africa also featured the event.
Organizations are taking root in many countries as the demand for curriculum and support give birth to new educational content and support companies. These are signs that a global movement has awakened.
Free to Succeed
At its heart, home education is a freedom movement. It is about seeking and achieving the best for our children and families.
As Ronald Reagan famously said, this freedom is not passed on in the bloodstream. It must be fought for and defended by each generation. In the United States we have nearly 60 years of experience with the movement and 2-3 million homeschooled children. HSLDA and individual state organizations, along with hundreds of thousands of families, have zealously guarded this fundamental freedom. After decades of experience, the American homeschooling movement has shown that governments and society need not fear homeschooling.
However, there are influential minorities who oppose the idea that parents know best and ought to be able to homeschool. Some argue that the only reason families exist is because the “state recognizes them.”
This is a dangerous idea that is rejected by United States Supreme Court cases. It also has been rejected the framers of the Universal Declaration on Human Rights. Following World War II these leaders recognized that while education was very important, parents had a “prior right to decide” what kind of education their children would receive. Observing how Nazi Germany had weaponized education, they asserted the fundamental of role of the family in the lives of children and in education as a bulwark against totalitarianism.
It is troubling that some countries have ignored this warning, Germany among them, and repress rather than respect home education.
The human heart yearns for freedom. But at times governments quell rather than support this freedom. Governments that ban or severely restrict the rights of families to homeschool are not friends of freedom. Countries with home education experience like the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada and others have an obligation to share the good news of homeschooling with their counterparts because spreading freedom is good for everyone.