A campaign of telephone calls and e-mails from American homeschoolers is being credited with convincing legislators in France to withdraw a plan that would have made such home instruction efforts there illegal, according to the Home School Legal Defense Fund.
“Thank you so much for your calls and e-mails to the French Embassy,” an alert from the organization said. “In an incredible turnaround of events, the sponsor of the restrictive amendments which would have outlawed homeschooling has withdrawn his amendments.”
An earlier alert had gone out just a few days ago, noting that a “draconian” plan had been proposed in the French parliament that would shut down homeschooling across the nation.
The specifics would be that “no parent would be allowed to homeschool unless they showed that the health or handicap of their child makes it necessary for him or her to be taught at home.”
Even if a family qualified under such restrictions, the HSLDA said the proposal would have required the family to submit to a home visit by a government official each year, and their curriculum would have to come from the “National Center of Correspondent Teaching” or from an approved source.
The plea asked American homeschoolers to contact the French Embassy, because of earlier successful efforts to lobby for homeschool programs in Ireland, the Czech Republic and South Africa, the HSLDA said. In Ireland and the Czech Republic, homeschool limits already had passed one house of parliament, but the grass-roots campaign still was able to halt them, the HSLDA said.
In announcing victory, Senior Counsel Christopher Klicka said he’s confident the “international outcry” played a “pivotal role” in the change of plans.
“The French Minister of the Family, Philippe Bas, vocally opposed several articles of this huge bill entitled ‘Protection de L’Enfance,’ which means for “Protection of the Children,'” Klicka wrote. “He specifically opposed the sections regulating and essentially prohibiting homeschooling, saying in the French parliament: ‘As they are, I am not favorable to these amendments [numbers 127 and 128], I find them too restrictive…'”
He said that France “must allow parents who, for instance, have three young children, a mother who is willing to take care of them and if they have decided to teach them to read-write-count – if that is their choice of living – provided that we can verify that the educational job is well done, then that freedom must be preserved.”
“French homeschoolers can breathe safely once again,” Klicka wrote. “Their freedom remains intact once again.”
Although the level of homeschooling in France, with an estimated 20,000 students, is small compared to America, where there are two million children in successful homeschools, the HSLDA said it is important that such rights be retained.
“We cannot believe that a free country like France would outlaw such a basic right as parents choosing to homeschool their children,” the group said.
French education officials earlier told lawmakers that 80,000 children start secondary school without really knowing how to read, write or count, and that is one of the main reasons for “parents who decide to homeschool their children.”
The HSLDA, although set up to address and support homeschooling in the United States, has become an international influence, working successfully on homeschooling issues in Poland, the Dominican Republican, Romania, Guatemala and Australia, among others, officials said.
The one nation where homeschoolers have suffered a series of setbacks in recent months is Germany, where homeschooling formally is banned, and police have been known to pick children up from their residences and deliver them to the mandatory public schools.
One homeschool advocate who contacted WND said, “We are not far away from an intolerant dictatorship in our country. Parental rights are more and more abolished. If you do not the way the state wants, to so-called Jugendamt (youth welfare office) is quickly to check out if they can take away the custody of your children.”
He said homeschoolers are fleeing Germany for other countries, leaving homes and sometimes jobs behind, in order to protect their children from the anti-Christian teachings of the secular school system.
The man identified himself as being part of the German homeschool support organization Netz-Bildung Freiheit (Net-Education Freedom). He contacted WND after the news website broke the story that a German government official had warned that families’ religious beliefs will have to be brought into alignment with required school attendance laws.
That threat from a state education official was reported in an English translation at the Homeschoolblogger.com website.
“The Minister of Education does not share your attitudes toward so-called homeschooling…,” said a government letter in response to a request for consideration for a family whose children were taken to school by police.
“You complain about the forced school escort of primary school children by the responsible local police officers on the basis of paragraph 86 of the education law as a measure of the execution of authority. It is known to the ministry of education that primary school students can be particularly burdened by the related contradiction between the norms of the parent-house and that of the public school through such forced escorts.”
The government letter continued with a solution:
“In order to avoid this in future, the education authority is in conversation with the affected family in order to look for possibilities to bring the religious convictions of the family into line with the unalterable school attendance requirement,” the government said.
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