French families are continuing their fight to protect homeschooling in the face of increasing state pressure.
The French Department of Education recently issued homeschool regulations based on laws passed last August by the French National Assembly. Homeschool advocates in France are troubled because the regulations are more restrictive than the law permits.
In response, homeschool organizations are challenging the regulations in the French courts.
French homeschoolers point out that the regulations set unlawful deadlines and qualifications, and generally disregard the legal rights of homeschooling families.
Part of an Unsettling Trend
I got to chat with Jean-Baptiste Maillard, a leader of the French homeschool association Liberty in Education, who told me that these rules were promulgated without any input from families.
“The situation is very tense for homeschooling families,” he said. “These decrees are unreasonable, and will make it much harder for families who want to homeschool their children. The authorities are trying to prevent families from starting to homeschool during the school year, imposing unreasonable timelines for families to appeal rejections of their homeschooling applications, and are trying to impose new qualifications on parents who want to homeschool!”
You can follow more about what is happening in France by visiting Liberty in Education. (Because the website content is in French, you may wish to use a web browser that provides automatic translation into English, such as Google Chrome.)
What is happening in France is not isolated, as there appears to be some general movement in Europe toward imposing more restrictions on homeschoolers. We have seen this trend develop in the past few years in Portugal and most recently in England and Romania.
In England, the head of the national Department of Education, Amanda Spielman, is suspicious of homeschoolers. In a recent speech, she said that she is “concerned by the recent increase in the number of children being home educated.”
Spielman added: “Most parents aren’t equipped to do it and if they are motivated by their own or their child’s anxiety, rather than a deeply-held desire to home-educate—the outcomes for their child are unlikely to be great.”
Families Join Forces for Freedom
These events demonstrate why it is so important for homeschoolers to connect with one another locally and to develop robust national organizations. The disinformation contributing to antagonism toward homeschooling must be countered with the truth about how it incorporates proven educational methods that benefit children, their families, and their communities.
Here in the United States, we have seen a general trend toward making homeschooling more freely accessible by reducing unnecessary burdens. We also have a natural bulwark of protection in that education policy is set at the state level rather than at the national level—as it is in many European countries. The level of advocacy we have in the US is also far greater than other countries, where homeschooling is still in its beginning stages.
In keeping with HSLDA’s mission to make homeschooling possible everywhere, we are working hard to support home-educating families in France, England, and elsewhere, by providing advice, consulting, and networking opportunities, particularly for homeschool leaders.
Being a community activist is hard work and places significant demands on families. This is especially true in the hostile environment in Europe. American homeschoolers can help by sharing ideas and experiences—and by simply offering encouragement.
As my friend Jean-Baptiste told me, “We look at America and we see that it is possible to succeed. We are fighting a hard battle, but we know that American homeschoolers and others have fought hard battles. And we French can do the same. It is encouraging and inspiring to be connected to others to share ideas and receive support.”
We are blessed with great liberty in the United States. Our homeschool movements are looked to as an inspiration to those just getting started. We can keep the fire of freedom burning brightly by standing together and supporting this robust network here and in other places.
Just like the torch of the Statue of Liberty was a beacon of hope to many, our homeschool freedom is a beacon of hope. Help us keep the fires of homeschooling liberty burning brightly by becoming a member of or donating to HSLDA today.