by Britanny Paist, Home School Legal Defense Association
A bill in the French Senate seeking to restrict homeschooling would significantly alter the landscape of homeschool freedom not only in France but all of Europe. Senate Bill 245 would effectively ban homeschooling by allowing only children with physical or mental disabilities to be educated at home.
French homeschool and family groups quickly coordinated a petition to oppose the bill, calling the proposed legislation an “attack against families.”
Michael Donnelly, director of international relations at HSLDA, said this bill is the most recent in a string of attempts across Europe to impose even more state control over children.
“The ‘exceptional circumstances’ language in Senate Bill 245 is disturbingly reminiscent of the education law enacted in Sweden in 2010 that effectively banned home education in that country,” Donnelly explained. “In proposing this bill, France is aligning with countries such as Sweden and Germany that ignore the fundamental right of parents to direct the education of their children. The assumption behind this bill is that the state knows best and parents do not.”
Senators from the Union for a Popular Movement (UMP) party introduced the bill on December 18, 2013 and rely heavily on the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) and arguments that homeschooled children are not socialized. The bill text argues that education “requires a collective dimension” and narrowly defines socialization as interaction with peers as justification for restricting homeschooling.
An article on Der Blaue Brief, a blog about freedom of education written by German homeschooling father Jürgen Dudek, calls the bill a “drastic curtailment of parents’ rights” and notes that the proposed law has “already provoked public resistance.”
The French petition against the bill makes it clear that the proposed law threatens decades of history in France where freedom of education has been protected.
“In France, homeschooling is legal and this choice of instruction belongs to the parents,” the petition reads. “It is a constitutional freedom which is registered in the European Convention on Human Rights … This proposed law aims to reduce individual freedoms … and is once again an attack against families in their life choices. We have to oppose it firmly to continue to be able to choose the best for our children.”
Another French website states, “We do not want our children to be forced to go to school. It is a choice.”
© 2014 HSLDA