Homeschoolers have won a round in the long fight against the crackdown on family rights contained in the United Nation’s Convention on the Rights of the Child, but experts say they need to keep up their guard.
The convention, which is not yet ratified in the United States but has been adopted by numerous other nations, orders that children can choose their own religion with parents only having the authority to advise them, the government can override a parent’s decision regarding a child if a social worker disagrees, a child has a right to a government review of every parental decision and Christian schools would violate the law if they refused to teach children “alternative worldviews.”
And all corporal punishment, such as spankings, would be banned by law.
The conflict had arisen over legislation that was proposed in the United Kingdom, called the Children, Schools and Families Bill, that would have set into law many of the provisions and issues demanded by the U.N. plan.
However, according to a report from the Home School Legal Defense Association, that proposal for now has been dropped. The British government’s Department of Children, School and Families said it was tabling the plan because “no agreement could be reached between government and opposition parties.”
The HSLDA is the world’s premier advocate for homeschooling and has been active in cases across the United States as well as in Europe. Earlier, Michael Donnelly, a staff attorney and director of international relations for HSLDA, said British plan was “breathtaking in its scope and reflects a perverse level of suspicion towards parents who home-educate their children.”
The proposal would have placed “total discretion in the hands of local education officials to determine whether or not they will ‘register’ a home-education program and would require criminal-background checks for parents before they could begin to homeschool their own children,” he said.
In the HSLDA’s report on the demise – for now – of the U.K. proposal, it said the U.K. government had promoted the regulations as having “new and stronger powers to enforce parents’ responsibilities in supporting the school in maintaining good behavior including the possibility of a court-imposed parenting plan.”
But the HSLDA said the bill actually would have “granted almost unfettered discretion to public authorities to terminate homeschool programs and to have almost unrestricted access to the homes of British homeschoolers.”
The HSLDA said the decision is a victory for now.
“In defeating this measure, British homeschoolers have blunted an effort by those who seek to impose unnecessary restriction on parents who home educate. Britain remains the freest European country for home educators. Many German families have fled persecution in Germany to the United Kingdom to enjoy its free environment for home education,” the HSLDA said.
The British legislation actually derived from the “Badman report,” which the HSLDA characterized as “notorious.” It was accepted by the British government and recommended the “draconian” regulations on homeschoolers throughout the isles.
That report, in turn, “was motivated in large part by the author’s interpretation of Britain’s ‘responsibilities as a signatory to the United Nation’s Conventtion on the Rights of the Child,’” according to the HSLDA.
“American homeschoolers, indeed all homeschoolers around the world, should be forewarned about the harm this treaty can do in interfering with the relationships between parents and children and in usurping the responsibility of parents to decide what is best for their children,” the HSLDA said.
The organization said with British Parliament currently dissolved, it will be up to the results of the May 6 election whether these proposals will be resurrected.
Norman Wells, of the Family Education Trust, one of the groups that coalesced to stage the fight in the U.K., said, “Home educators came together in great numbers and their voices [were] heard to an extent that even some members of the government’s own party were against the sweeping nature of the proposed restrictions.”
But he cautioned the battle isn’t over.
“Government bureaucrats and local authorities still have homeschoolers in their sights. These officials will almost certainly seek to pressure the new government to take up these restrictions in some form in the next government, no matter who wins. These bureaucrats have a statist mind-set and believe that the government ought to be more involved in British families when the reverse is true. What we need here in Britain is less government involvement and more protection of the family to make decisions on its own,” he said.
In the United States, an organization called Parental Rights is working to educate people – especially lawmakers – about the dangerous ramifications of the U.N. plan.
More than 130 members of the U.S. House of Representatives as well as a handful of U.S. senators already have indicated their opposition to adopting the U.N. convention by the U.S.
An analysis of the CRC by Michael P. Farris at Parental Rights notes that the CRC already has been adopted by 193 nations, and ultimately if imposed in the United States would create turmoil for families.
“For example, the treaty clearly bans all corporal punishment, including spanking by parents. Congress would have both the duty as well as the power to implement legislation which directly imposes legal sanctions against parents to spank their children. Spanking could be a federal crime if the CRC is ratified,” he wrote.
The ParentalRights.org group is pursuing a campaign to amend the Constitution to include a specific endorsement of parental rights.
WND had reported on the 2009 report from Graham Badman, a former managing director of Children, Families and Education in Kent, and that it was accepted by the British Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families.
HSLDA said at the time the report advocated the “extensive” regulation of homeschooling across the United Kingdom.
Paul Farris, chief of the HSLDA in Canada, said the U.K. proposal was based on faulty assumptions, including that there is “systematic monitoring” of homeschoolers around the globe.
“The Badman Report and this bill shows real ignorance of homeschooling and will not facilitate success in home education but will rather interfere with home education,” he told HSLDA at the time.
WND has reported on the homeschool issue worldwide, from when a teen in Germany was taken into custody for psychiatric evaluation because she was being homeschooled to when a court in California – in a decision that later was vacated – appeared to rule parents did not have the right to homeschool their children.