Among major democratic nations, homeschooling already is banned in Germany, under a Hitler-era law, and in Sweden, where authorities have taken offspring out of their family’s arms to crack down on the educational method.
Scotland is taking a different approach, demanding that all children be assigned a “nanny” at birth to make sure they get educated.
Now officials in the Netherlands are looking to join the crackdown on parents.
According to a petition being promoted by a group of homeschooling parents there, the Dutch Parliament as recently as 2011 “agreed with home education” and the Dutch Education Council advised only that home education should be regulated.
Nevertheless, Sander Dekker, secretary of state for education in the country, told the Dutch House of Representatives that he plans to make it illegal nationwide.
The homeschool organization, Nederlandse Vereniging voor Thuisonderwijs, now is asking parents nationwide, and indeed, worldwide, to sign the petition that calls for “the preservation and strengthening of the legal basis for home education.”
The petition explains, “The state secretary for education is planning to make it impossible to home educate (via exemption from compulsory school attendance under article 5 sub b of the Compulsory Education Act). This is evident from his letter in July 2013 to the Second Chamber (House of Representatives) of the Dutch Parliament.”
Officials with the Home School Legal Defense Association are encouraging support for the parents fighting for their family’s rights.
Michael Donnelly, director of international relations for the organization, said, “Dekker’s plan to ban homeschooling completely in the Netherlands comes from the same place as German officials and even American academics who believe that the state should control all aspects of a child’s education.
“This totalitarian thinking is at odds with the liberty expected in free society,” he said. “As homeschooling grows, clashes between statists and free people are increasing. We can help fellow homeschoolers and strengthen our freedom by standing against totalitarians like Mr. Decker. We showed this in the Wunderlich case in Germany, and I ask homeschoolers everywhere to send a message to Dutch officials by signing this petition.”
Peter van Suidam, who is with the Dutch homeschool group, said it “is doing everything in its power to prevent this amendment to the law.”
“We ask everyone who supports home education and the rights of parents to add your name to our petition, so we can make very clear to the members of parliament that the world is watching them.”
The HSLDA has links to both Dutch and international petitions posted on its site.
A report from the Examiner has listed nations where homeschooling also is illegal, including mostly socialist-leaning or former communist territories.
They include Albania, Andorra, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Bosnia, Brazil, Croatia, Cuba, Cyprus, El Salvador, Georgia, Greece, Greenland, Guatemala, Kazakhstan, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Macedonia, Malta, Moldova, Montenegro, San Marino, Serbia, Slovakia, Trinidad and Tobago and Turkey.
The HSLDA just recently was involved in a dispute over homeschooling in Germany, where police officers armed with a battering ram to knock down the door took four children from their parents over homeschooling.
They were returned more than a week later after the parents, given “no choice” by the government, agreed to let their children attend a public school.
The chief of the HSLDA has expressed concerns over the U.S. position, too, specifically over the administration’s silence.
“The State Department says it seeks to promote a greater respect for human rights on its website,” said HSLDA Chairman Michael Farris. “It lists specific examples, including freedom of expression and the protection of minorities, but what it doesn’t mention is religious freedom.
“It is clear that the administration doesn’t mind that religious homeschoolers in Germany are having their rights trampled upon by the way the Justice Department is going after the Romeike family,” he said, referring to a German family seeking asylum in the U.S. that faces deportation.
His comments came after four children were returned to German parents Dirk and Petra Wunderlich in a dispute over homeschooling in Germany. The children late last month were forcibly taken from their parents by officers armed with a battering ram just as the children were starting their morning homeschool classes.
In the Romeike case, the family fled to the United States because German barred them from homeschooling. They obtained asylum, but the Obama administration appealed and obtained an order from a higher court that the family must return to Germany.
The dispute now is pending before the U.S. Supreme Court.
The Obama administration has argued in court that parents essentially have no right to determine how and what their children are taught, leaving the authority with the government.
Farris said although the cases have been in Germany, others should be concerned.
“I want the American homeschool community and other friends of liberty to take note – this mindset isn’t limited to Germany. Many U.S. policymakers and academics agree. … They are even working to see them realized here. So far, thankfully, homeschooling isn’t a legitimate reason (anymore) for the government to kidnap your children if they don’t go to state approved schools,” Farris said.
Donnelly said there are “already too many voices in the United States that want to advance the idea that the state must control education for the safety of the state or other reasons.”
“And this is the same rationale of the German government in perpetrating deplorable acts like this,” he said. “Why should we think it couldn’t or won’t happen here?”
Donnelly asked further: “Can’t a government that can order you to get health care tell you that you don’t qualify for certain life-saving treatments, tell parents they can’t allow their children to get certain kinds of counseling or that they must have a particular kind of medical treatments or that certain religious speech is intolerant and may not be permitted or must be punished, or that only national curricular standards are acceptable for all children, etc. – can’t a government like that order you to send your children to school? And then punish you if you don’t?”
See a report on the Romeikes:
It was in 1937 when Adolf Hitler said: "The youth of today is ever the people of tomorrow. For this reason we have set before ourselves the task of inoculating our youth with the spirit of this community of the people at a very early age, at an age when human beings are still unperverted and therefore unspoiled. This Reich stands, and it is building itself up for the future, upon its youth. And this new Reich will give its youth to no one, but will itself take youth and give to youth its own education and its own upbringing."
WND also reported on Sweden's war against homeschoolers, including when the Supreme Court in that nation ordered custody of a boy permanently removed from his parents over homeschooling.
The nation's Supreme Court refused to review a lower court's decision to forcibly terminate Christer and Annie's parental rights to Domenic, who was abducted by armed officers from the family when he was 7.
|Christer and Domenic Johansson|
The justices of the Supreme Court of Sweden delivered a "perfunctory order" rejecting the family's appeal and in effect, delivering its "death sentence" in the case.
HSLDA has been working with the a team from the Alliance Defending Freedom on behalf of the family.
WND has reported on the case from its beginning, when Domenic was seized by armed Swedish police officers operating on the orders of social services agencies from on board a Turkish Airlines flight June 25, 2009, because he was being homeschooled.
He was 7 at the time.
The family was in the process of moving permanently to India, Annie's home country, but the armed officers were ordered to board the jet and seize the boy.
During the first months following his seizure, the parents were only permitted to visit Domenic once every two weeks. The visits soon became every five weeks, and in 2010, all visitations were cut off, HSLDA said. The parents haven't seen their son in three years now.
In Scotland, the government is proposing a plan that "would assign a government social worker to 'promote, support or safeguard the wellbeing' of every child from birth."
That "named person" would have great authority to order what the child – and parents – must do throughout life, regarding schooling, health, social activities and the like.
It's part of an initiative that calls for "Getting it Right for Every Child."
"The national homeschooling association in Scotland, 'Schoolhouse,' has told HSLDA that the proposed bill that would rewrite the Scottish child protection system is bad for all families but would certainly target of home educating families. The group is asking American home educators to help them oppose this Orwellian legislation."
Farris said the bill is the most invasive and "anti-parent" that he's ever seen.
Noted Donnelly, "There is a growing global battle that all homeschoolers must be aware of and fight together – the idea that the state should decide how children are educated, contrary to the decision of parents.
"This Scottish bill shows what form such oppression can take. We see the results of such oppression in countries like Germany and Sweden, where parents are fined, threatened and their children taken over their choice to homeschool. Free people must stand together to defend the rights of families to make educational and other decisions without government interference," he said.