The French Conseil d'État (Council of State) issued an opinion December 3 asserting President Emmanuel Macron’s proposed ban of homeschooling is incompatible with the French Constitution.
Within days a coalition of French homeschool organizations issued a press release rejecting the homeschool ban and HSLDA submitted a letter signed by hundreds of US and international homeschool groups to Macron asking the French president to reconsider his proposal.
Macron called for a ban on home education as part of a larger proposal to combat what he called radicalism and separatism. The international letter from Home School Legal Defense Association calls on Macron to reconsider his proposed ban as being inconsistent with France’s legal obligations as well as being contrary to a basic understanding of freedom.
- There is no link between homeschooling and radicalism or separatism and that “home educated children are as integrated into society as children educated in any other way.”
- “Protecting the right of home education demonstrates a strong commitment to the principles of freedom, which are to be expected from democratic societies such as France.”
- There have been numerous treaties signed by France that protect the freedom of parents and children to choose the best kind of education for themselves.
Guillaume De Thieulloy, an advisor to a French senator and board member of the Global Home Education Exchange, called the council’s statement very important.
He explained: “The State Council is responsible for giving advice about laws that affect constitutional freedoms and they usually stand for freedom, although the president is not legally obligated to follow the council’s opinion. However, if the government goes through with the law, then a challenge to the law would have a chance of success before the Constitutional Council.”
United for Freedom
The council is reportedly opposed to the ban in part because “it is not supported by reliable and documented evidence on the reasons, conditions and results of the practice of teaching within the family; it has not been established, in particular, that the parents’ motives relate in a significant way to a desire for social separatism or a challenge to the values of the Republic.”
It added, “In these conditions, the transition from a regime of framed and controlled freedom to a regime of prohibition does not seem sufficiently justified and proportionate.”
Andre Stern, a noted French homeschooling advocate, called the proposed ban “the end of freedom,” noting that French homeschoolers are not outside of French society, but are an aspect of its pluralistic nature. Stern’s blog post in French is available here. An unofficial translation made by Stern is available here.
Stern declared: “Because we must not forget that the vast majority of those who practice home education, of which we are a part, are anything but separatists or clandestine: we do not hide, we declare our mode of instruction and are controlled every year by the Ministry of Education and by Municipal Services. Far from being marginalized, far from being ‘outside the system’, we are one of the facets of its plurality.”
French homeschoolers have organized into numerous coalitions to oppose the attempt by Macron to ban homeschooling. Facing the most serious threat to their freedom ever, families are working hard to inform the government and to rally support. Even if the ban is defeated, some fear that the government will impose more restrictions, making it harder than ever to homeschool.
French homeschooling families are already overseen by national and local authorities who make home inspections to check up on how children are being educated.
Because an attack on their freedom is an attack on homeschooling freedom everywhere, HSLDA calls on President Macron and the French government to respect the rights of families to homeschool without undue government interference. We appreciate the support of all organizations who signed the international letter and will continue to provide what aid we can to the French homeschooling community.