The French government has adopted a change to its education code that allows bureaucrats to set the terms and place of annual examinations for all homeschoolers under the threat that children be placed in public schools.
According to the Home School Legal Defense Association, the world’s largest advocate for homeschooling, while inspections previously have been scheduled, the change “now specifies that families no longer have a say in the location or manner of the inspection.”
“Parents who twice resist an inspector’s choice of location or method of inspection are at risk of being forced to enroll their children in school. A new circular – an administrative document outlining how families should comply with the new legislation – is also expected to add pressure for families to follow the national curriculum,” the HSLDA report said.
“Homeschooling is really under attack as it never was before,” a French leader told HSLDA.
“Before this amendment, enrollment into school was a potential option only after two examinations where a homeschooled student did poorly. Now, for example, if parents decline the method of inspection based on the national curriculum, or if they simply cannot drive to the location for the inspection, which may be up to 100 kilometers away from the student’s home – it is possible their homeschool program will be challenged.”
Mike Donnelly, HSLDA’s director of global outreach, said in a published report the “situation in France, and others like it in Belgium, Malta and elsewhere around the globe, remind us to be vigilant.”
“Even living in a country where homeschooling is legal, such as the United States, does not remove the need to monitor attempts to restrict homeschooling, or to proactively engage society to demonstrate that homeschooled students develop into responsible citizens and productive members of society,” he said.
There already has been a protest raised by homeschoolers.
In a letter to French Minister of Education Najat Vallaud-Belkacem, homeschoolers wrote, “It is with arguments based on lies and cover-ups that the Ministry of Education significantly modified the content of the law in ways that do not respect democracy.”
The statement, signed by the French homeschool organization Choisir d’Instruire Son Enfant, said the French language “has a word for this kind of process: manipulation.”
“The role of a democratic state is to support educational innovation and alternative pedagogies which all research shows is to the benefit of the development of children, our citizens of tomorrow. The role of a democratic state is to protect our individual freedoms,” it said.
Several homeschool groups have launched petitions, and they have asked for a consultation with government officials.
The changes were part of a larger bill addressing “equality and citizenship” with the goal of fighting “racism and discrimination.”
It specifically opposes private schools that would “teach from a particular religious or philosophical point of view,” the HSLDA report said.
“It is encouraging to see homeschool families in France are taking a firm stand. We urge French legislators to consult with the homeschool community and remedy this blow to freedom of education,” Connelly said.