Swedish officials are doubling down on homeschooling with a recently uncovered statement from the European nation’s ambassador to the United States that there is no need – ever – for homeschooling.
The comment from Ambassador Jonas Hafstrom is that all children must be taught the state-mandated beliefs because it is their right.
“The government does not find that homeschooling is necessary for religious or philosophical reasons,” Hafstrom said in the statement, which was quoted by Michael Donnelly of the Home School Legal Defense Association in a commentary about new attacks on parental rights.
Donnelly explained that the HSLDA had obtained a copy of a letter from Hafstrom to U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo. Blunt had written Hafstrom asking about the case involving the Himmelstrand family, whose members now face fines of more than $26,000 for homeschooling.
The family, longtime supporters of homeschooling in Sweden, fled to neighboring Finland, where homeschooling still is legal.
Donnelly said Hafstrom’s comments represent “a totalitarian philosophy that the state knows best.”
“The idea that only public schools can adequately provide students with a ‘comprehensive and objective’ view on all subjects and issues is a twisted view of reality,” said Donnelly.
“Experience shows that government schools seek to impart their own state-approved worldview to children. It is pure totalitarianism to deny parents the freedom to homeschool their children simply because the government believes it can do ‘better,'” he wrote.
HSLDA Chairman Mike Farris said in the commentary that parents “have a prior right to determine the form and content of their children’s education.”
He continued, “Instead of acknowledging this right, the new education act in Alberta [Canada] assumes that the government should dictate what each and every child should learn – including formative issues such as religion, human sexuality and sexual orientation. In the situations in Canada and Sweden, we see a one-size-fits-all approach to education that seeks to restrict, if not deny, a parent’s ability to teach what they believe.”
A WND request to Blunt’s office for a copy of the letter did not generate a response. Hafstrom’s office also did not reply to a WND request for comment.
Hafstrom depended on the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child, which has been used around the world to diminish parental influence over their own children, for his arguments.
He said in the letter to Blunt that Sweden “believes in defending the rights of the child, and as a signatory to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, Sweden offers strong legal protection to the rights of children.”
“All children in Sweden have the right to education on the same terms and high quality instruction, and we find that compulsory schooling is a way to guarantee that this right is fulfilled for all children,” Hafstrom said. “Under Swedish law, school instruction must be comprehensive and objective. The government does not find that homeschooling is necessary for religious or philosophical reasons.”
HSLDA noted the nation’s crackdown not only on the Himmelstrands but several other cases. Families have left Sweden because of the government’s active attack on homeschooling families. In one case, that of the Johanssons, social services workers told police to abduct a child from his parents, who were moving to India. Domenic Johansson now has been in state custody for several years.
In several such cases, after their children were abducted by the state, families moved out of the country, then hired a private investigator to abduct their own children back from the state and meet for reunification outside of Sweden.
WND earlier reported when Lotta Edholm, a prominent leader of Sweden’s liberal party, opined in an article in Aftonbladet, a Swedish newspaper, that the nation’s social service laws should be changed to encourage social workers to take children away from homeschooling families.
“That the deputy minister of social affairs, Maria Larsson … should take an initiative to change the social services act so that the social authorities can intervene when children are kept away from school by their parents,” she wrote in her blog.
Experts in homeschooling battles note that Sweden is becoming another Germany. In Germany, according to Practical Homeschool Magazine, one of the first acts by Adolf Hitler when he moved into power was to create the governmental Ministry of Education and give it control of all schools and school-related issues.
In 1937, the dictator 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.”
Wolfgang Drautz, consul general for the Federal Republic of Germany, commented previously on the issue, contending the government “has a legitimate interest in countering the rise of parallel societies that are based on religion.”
Drautz, whose comment later was removed from the Internet, emphasized that education has an essential role in teaching socialization. As WND reported, that belief was evident in the government’s response when a German family in another case wrote objecting to police officers picking their child up at home and delivering him to a public school.
“The minister of education does not share your attitudes toward so-called homeschooling,” said a government letter in response. “You complain about the forced school escort of primary school children by the responsible local police officers. … 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.”
Various organizations and websites, such as “FreeSweden.net,” also have been created to raise awareness of the government’s attacks on Swedish homeschoolers.
“Sweden is the only country in the history of Europe that has forbidden homeschooling under democratic rule – all the others have been openly communist or fascist dictatorships,” the site explains. “Germany is the only other West European country which forbids homeschooling on the basis of an unrepealed Nazi law enacted by Hitler in 1938 to ensure state indoctrination of the most vulnerable in society.”