French protest new regulations attacking homeschooling
The Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) affirms that the French government’s power grab is a direct assault on parental rights that is detrimental to the proper development of their children.
“On June 27, the French National Assembly adopted an amendment to the Education Code that subjects families to the whims of state inspectors, who will now determine the terms and place of annual examinations and hold the power to force parents to reenroll their children in school,” HSLDA reports.
Exposing the attack … again
The French homeschool organization Choisir d’Instruire Son Enfant (CISE) made the serious nature of the French government’s maneuver known.
“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,” CISE wrote in an open letter it addressed to French Minister of Education Najat Vallaud-Belkacem. “The French language has a word for this kind of process: manipulation.”
The homeschool group maintains that the French government is not putting the best interests of children and their proper development first.
“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 letter reads. “The role of a democratic state is to protect our individual freedoms.”
HSLDA Director of Global Outreach Mike Donnelly says that CISE’s letter represents only one of many attempts to get the government to respect educational freedom for homeschoolers in France.
“Homeschool associations in France have banded together, and numerous petitions against the amendment have been created and circulated,” Donnelly informed. “Representatives of the associations Les Enfants d’Abord (LED’A), Libres d’Apprendre et d’Instruire Autrement (LAIA), Le Collect’IEF, and CISE sent a joint text to the members of parliament (MPs) requesting a consultation with the homeschooling community prior to the June 27 vote. The letter has gone unanswered.”
Donnelly, who also serves as a staff attorney with HSLDA, explained that the government is becoming more intrusive in the way it monitors homeschoolers by taking away parents’ ability to have any say in the inspection process.
“The changes to the Education Code create obstacles for parents wishing to exercise their right to freely direct the education of their children,” the legal expert explained. “While an annual inspection of homeschooled students was previously required, Article L. 131 of the Education Code now specifies that families no longer have a say in the location or manner of the inspection.”
And if parents don’t submit to the more regulated process, they face stiff penalties — including having their children put into public school.
“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,” Donnelly continued. “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.”
Those within the system acknowledge that the crackdown on home education is only getting worse.
“Homeschooling is really under attack as it never was before,” a French leader divulged to HSLDA.
Now, homeschoolers can be sent to conventional school regardless of well they achieve academically.
“Before this amendment, enrollment into school was a potential option only after two examinations where a homeschooled student did poorly,” the leader added. “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.”
Slipping in more restrictions
Changes to the education law were slipped into a long list of legislation that most progressives would find aggregable.
“The amendment to the homeschooling provision was rolled into a much larger bill on ‘equality and citizenship’ with extensive provisions to improve the country’s fight against ‘racism and discrimination’ and to limit the creation of private schools that would teach from a particular religious or philosophical point of view,” Donnelly pointed out.
He also mentioned how the media covered the latest breach on parental rights.
“The [education] inspector must ensure that the child is not subjected to ‘ideological or political influence contrary to republican values,’” the French La Croix reported in a recent article.
A demand for the withdrawal of the amendment was made through a homeschool petition that was directed toward the Education Commission of the National Assembly through the following straightforward message:
“A group of French MPs think they can combat terrorism by tackling homeschooling,” the petition reads. “We have explained to each of them why they are wrong in both their findings and reasons they give [for the amendment].”
Donnelly says that home educators are on board with the protest, leaning on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union. Both documents detail educational freedom protections and parental rights.
“[The protections and rights are set] to ensure the education and teaching of their children in conformity with their religious, philosophical and pedagogical convictions,” the text lays out.
Donnelly points out that France is not the only country where homeschooling is being threatened.
“The situation in France, and others like it in Belgium, Malta and elsewhere around the globe, remind us to be vigilant,” Donnelly said. “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 pointed to French homeschoolers as setting an example for others to follow.
“It is encouraging to see homeschool families in France are taking a firm stand,” Donnelly expressed, urging Americans to sign the “Saving Education Freedom” petition. “We urge French legislators to consult with the homeschool community and remedy this blow to freedom of education.”
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