When I began working at the Home School Legal Defense Association in 1985, it was only clearly legal to homeschool in about five states. It was essentially open season on homeschoolers everywhere as the Holy Spirit was moving on parents to remove their children from public school and to teach them at home. The battles were fierce from school district to school district and from state to state across the country. We at HSLDA spent much time in the courts and legislatures across the country to win the right for parents to choose homeschooling.
Now, I am pleased to report that homeschooling is legal in all fifty states. But the work is not over, as many officials try to misapply law and state legislatures try to bring back the old restrictions and regulations.
The rest of the world has been watching us. HSLDA receives regular communications from around the world. Since God has blessed HSLDA's work, we are excited about sharing the strategies that have been successful to legalize homeschooling in the United States. We also, on a regular basis, share our research on the success of homeschooling.
As I have had the opportunity to travel around the world to many countries, I realize that homeschooling is no longer a United States phenomena. Homeschooling is gradually but steadily spreading across the world as the moral decay in public schools everywhere continues.
The Internet is playing a major role in bringing the world closer together. Parents in foreign countries are able to learn much about homeschooling and as a result are looking to HSLDA to help them make it legal.
HSLDA legal staff work regularly with homeschool leaders and homeschool associations in various countries. The assistance includes recommending legal and political strategies, sending homeschool studies and materials, corresponding and sometimes meeting with members of Parliament and various government officials, organizing letter writing campaigns to various foreign embassies, talking to foreign press, visiting and speaking in the country, and helping establish national legal defense associations for homeschoolers.
HSLDA also has provided seed money to start legal defense associations, purchase printing equipment, and buy other needed resources to homeschool leaders in various countries.
We urge you to catch the vision of being a homeschool "missionary" to help homeschooling, and inevitably the Gospel, spread around the world. Our website, www.hslda.org, has a international section which we update regularly of the news and developments in over twenty countries. I will try to give you just a small taste of the homeschooling work going on around the world.
Germany: Homeschoolers Still Face Difficulties
German homeschool leaders Richard and Ingrid Guenther and their children
I have traveled to Germany three times, helping the fledgling homeschool movement by working to establish a legal defense organization for homeschoolers called School Instruction At Home. Presently it has over 40 member families and the main attorney, Gabrielle Eckermann, has been doing a tremendous job. He won several cases in the courts, convincing the judges that education is taking place and to simply leave the families alone, although German laws do not specifically allow for homeschooling.
One of the legal defense organization's cases, called the Conrad case, is going before the high court in Germany and is being handled by Ronald Richert, a Christian constitutional lawyer with extensive experience in the courts. We are also working together with the European Center for Law and Justice to bring at least one case before the human rights court in the European Union. Approximately two years ago, we sent out an alert on behalf of the Harder family in Germany, who had their house ransacked by the police and were facing a two-year prison sentence. Within three weeks of sending out the alert, and having thousands of families contact the German embassy in the United States and around the world, the case was dropped and the family has continued to homeschool.
Schulunterricht zu Hause (Schooling At Home)
Over 300 families homeschool in the Czech Republic. The Czech Home School Association is run very efficiently by Michal Semin, who has successfully lobbied the Parliament to win the right to homeschool until the fifth grade. Approximately a year ago, I visited the Czech Republic and discovered that they were facing legislation that would virtually outlaw homeschooling. Michal Semin asked for our help and HSLDA sent out an alert to have homeschoolers contact the Czech Parliament. Within 24 hours the Czech Parliament server was shut down because of the volume of emails. The bill that would have negatively affected homeschoolers died.
Although they had a breather, the Czech Republic is facing new legislation again that we are prepared to help them with.
National Czech Home School Association
email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org
Australia: Things Are Looking Up Down Under
Australian Terry Harding and family
Australia has one of the oldest homeschool movements after the United States. They have waged many legal battles over the years to win and maintain the right to homeschool. All homeschoolers (estimated at 35,000 families) homeschool under fairly reasonable laws. The state of Queensland, however, continues to try to implement restrictive teacher qualification legislation. Terry Harding, who runs the Australian Christian Academy, estimates that he has over 1,500 families who are part of his homeschool program. He works hard to lobby before their Parliament and conducts research on the success of homeschooling.
Australian Christian Academy
Mexico: Discipleship Time
Mike Richardson, an American missionary, has lived in Mexico for over a decade. He has established the El Hogar Educador, a free homeschool newsletter which is now distributed to over 19 Spanish-speaking nations. He also organizes two annual homeschool conferences near Monterrey and Mexico City. Thousands of Mexicans attend his conferences each year. He has translated some American books into Spanish and provides copies of the tapes of the speakers at his conferences to any family who asks for free. Without clear compulsory attendance laws, homeschooling is flourishing and legal. Quality education is hard to come by in Mexico and many families are poor. Homeschooling is providing an answer to this educational dilemma. It is enabling families to provide a good and affordable education.
El Hogar Educador
Hungary: Homeschooling is Just Beginning
Sandra Lovelace in Hungary
Homeschooling is growing largely through the Christian church in Hungary. The law allows for private schools. Homeschoolers can easily qualify as private schoolers in Hungary and therefore can legally operate. At my urging, Imre Scszokoe established the Hungarian Home School Association. Over 25 families have joined and the ranks are growing daily.
The Hungarian Home School Association has held a homeschool convention at least twice a year for the last two years. Many of the Hungarians speak English and can use English textbooks. They are hoping to have many eventually translated into the Hungarian language. The Hungarian Home School Association is working through young pastors throughout the country to educate the congregations on the benefits of homeschooling.
Hungarian Home Schooling Association (HHSA)
Romania: Homeschooling is Close to Becoming Legal
Romanian Gabriel Curcubet and family
In Romania the homeschool movement is very small because the laws are not clear. Homeschooling is considered by many to be illegal. At my urging, Gabriel Curcubet established the Romanian Home School Association and is regularly lobbying Parliament to encourage them to pass a law legalizing homeschooling.
I have supplied him with resolutions from the U.S. Congress recognizing the many benefits of homeschooling along with a letter from President Bush and Congressman Jim Ryun. These letters have been passed on to the Vice-Chairman of the Education Committee in the Romanian Parliament, who is now completely convinced of the need to legalize homeschooling. Earlier this year we sent out an email alert urging people to contact the Education Committee of the Romanian Parliament and to ask the Committee to officially recognize homeschooling. We will continue to work with Gabriel to strategize and provide support for drafting new language this spring that we hope will be passed so that homeschooling will be officially legal in Romania.
Romanian Homeschool Association
South Africa: Homeschooling is Organized
We have worked with South Africa since 1995 to help homeschooling to become legal. In 1996, a national law was passed allowing for homeschooling throughout the provinces. However, the trouble is in the details. Each province is free to determine how they will regulate homeschooling.
Realizing this made legal battles likely, I traveled in 1997 to South Africa and helped them establish the Pestalozzi Trust Legal Defense Fund for Home Education. Leendert vn Oostrum is president and the Legal Defense Fund has nearly 800 members across the country. The Pestalozzi Trust is keeping homeschooling free in South Africa. However, the battle is becoming more intense as the Minister of Education has declared war on Christianity and homeschooling in South Africa.
Japan: Homeschooling Is Catching On
Hiro Inaba family
Homeschooling father Hiro Inaba started the Christian Home Education Association of Japan a few years ago. I have been working with Hiro to help promote homeschooling in Japan through various means. Two years ago I traveled to Tokyo and spoke to hundreds of interested parents, urging them to homeschool. The business community strongly supports homeschooling and sees it as a solution to the 300,000 drop-outs from high school each year. As a result, the business community has funded the establishment of another national group called HOSA. Although homeschooling is not technically recognized in Japanese law, the authorities are "looking the other way" as they leave families alone who homeschool.
Hiro Inaba, who is definitely a pioneer in the homeschool movement, is working to translate many homeschool curricula into Japanese.
CHEA of Japan
Canada: Homeschooling is Well-Established
Canada is another country where homeschooling flourishes. We helped the Canadians form the Home School Legal Defense Association of Canada, which presently has 2,500 member families. The homeschool movement is proving very popular throughout the provinces of Canada. One nationwide study showed that homeschoolers in Canada are scoring above average on the standardized tests, and another study is in the works. The Legal Defense Association stays busy, however, like HSLDA in the United States, with many school officials throughout the provinces exceeding the law. Similar to the U.S., Canada's greatest problem is social workers. HSLDA of Canada stands up to the social workers to protect the privacy rights of homeschool families and have enjoyed much success through the negotiations and in court.
Home School Legal Defense Association of Canada
Ukraine: Homeschool Persecution Ceases
Earlier this year in the Odessa region of Ukraine, five homeschool families were prosecuted for teaching their children at home. HSLDA worked through Andrew Okhotin with the Russian Evangelistic Ministries to open up communication with these five families. We also issued an email alert urging people to contact the Ukrainian embassy. Within weeks of the Ukraine embassy being deluged with calls, letters, and emails, the federal government of Ukraine wrote a letter to the five families stating that it was legal for them to homeschool. Local authorities have since backed off. The homeschool movement is very small and not yet organized.
Russian Evangelistic Ministries
England: Homeschooling is Growing by Leaps and Bounds
In England, Roger and Ruth Slack of the Home Service organization have done much work to help homeschooling grow. It is estimated that as high as 100,000 children are being homeschooled in Great Britain. It is legal to homeschool and all the American curricula are available to the English homeschoolers. The legal problems are almost non-existent as the homeschool ranks swell.
How You Can Help
Homeschooling is growing throughout the world. The task of helping other countries legalize homeschooling is daunting. The curriculum needs are great. We at HSLDA can't do everything but we can do something. What we can do, we ought to do, to help the least of these who are desperate for our support. Here are some suggestions on what you can do to help.
- Adopt a country. Learn all you can about the homeschool movement there by checking the HSLDA website at www.hslda.org. For each country, we summarize the laws, the homeschool population, the latest news, and we also give a short history of the development of the homeschool movement in that country and a description of the Christian homeschool associations. Use this ministry as an opportunity to instruct your children and do a unit study on the country. Have your children explore its history, culture, traditions, and geography. Consider developing pen pals by directly contacting the organizations listed on HSLDA's website.
- Pray regularly for homeschoolers around the world. There is power in prayer. We have seen the miracles God has done on behalf of homeschoolers in the United States. If we do not pray for homeschoolers, who will?
- Join HSLDA to support our efforts to assist other countries in helping homeschooling to be legalized. You can join HSLDA by calling (540) 338-5600 or visiting our website at www.hslda.org. We could not assist homeschoolers in other countries without membership support.
- Respond to HSLDA alerts by writing or calling foreign embassies, encouraging them to inform their governments that parents need to be allowed to homeschool. Though these alerts and our work with governments in other countries, we've had great success. This has resulted in legalizing homeschooling in South Africa and freeing a family in prison, dismissing in Germany and establishing the legal defense fund, stopping cold legislation in Ireland that would have required homeschoolers to submit to home visits, derailing legislation that would have outlawed homeschooling in the Czech Republic, furthering the cause of homeschooling in Japan and Romania, ending prosecution of homeschoolers in Ukraine, and much more.
- Donate money, used books, and other homeschool products to help the fledgling homeschool organizations succeed.
- Convince your homeschool support group to do a fundraiser to help a particular country or foreign Christian homeschool association.
There are many other ideas, but these will give you a good beginning.
Praise God for His work around the world!