April 16, 2012
When Your Country Demands You Have No Right To Teach Your Children, It's Time To Leave
So how did the law pass? In analysis of the law’s passing, The Swedish Homeschool Association (ROHUS) writes that “there was no majority in parliament in favor of passing the whole law.” In fact, at least a dozen members did not want to restrict homeschooling. Many other MPs criticized the new law on various other points, including attempts to make day care and preschool compulsory and inconsistencies between the education law and the Swedish constitution.
Many nations are increasing pressure on parents who wish to homeschool children causing a firestorm of debate on human rights. Sweden has become a model for other nations wishing to remove parental rights and maintain control of children's education in the hands of the government. The result is causing parents to flee to other countries or bring cases to international courts to protect religious and parental rights in what is quickly becoming a fascist Swedish government.
Almost two years ago, the Swedish Liberal Party pushed a new 1,500-page schooling law through making home schooling as an expression of religion or philosophy effectively impossible for Swedish families, other than in “exceptional circumstances” such as health issues or distance from a public school. The law also severely restricts religious practice in Sweden’s “confessional” schools.
Sweden’s officials defended the home-school ban, which took effect last July, saying home schooling is unnecessary since the state provides a “comprehensive and objective” education.
The education law makes significant changes to the reality of homeschooling in Sweden. In addition to enshrining the “exceptional circumstances” restriction in Swedish law, it flatly dismisses the typical motivations for homeschooling. The law officially states, “It is the opinion of the government that there is no need of a law to make space for homeschooling based on the religious of philosophical views of the family.” So under the new law, religious or philosophical convictions are no longer valid reasons for homeschooling.
The chief of a homeschooling organization in Sweden, has now fled his home country because of the badgering, fines, court hearings and threats over the best way to teach his own children.
According to a report in the New American, a publication of the John Birch Society, Jonas Himmelstrand of the Swedish Association for Home Education has left his home country because of, among other things, attempts by the government to fine him $26,000 for homeschooling.
The report said Himmelstrand quietly moved his family to the Aland Islands between Sweden and Finland, which are outside of the jurisdiction of Swedish homeschooling laws.
While he earlier had considered it worth staying and fighting for the rights of parents to decide the best education for their children, he said in the report that it was clear it was time to join the other homeschool families who already have fled Sweden.
With the attack launched by the government on parental rights, Sweden joins Germany as nations where families have been forced to flee because of government persecution. It was more than a year ago when the Romeike family of Germany was granted asylum in the United States by a judge who noted the persecution the family would face if forcibly returned to Germany.
The U.S.-based Home School Legal Defense Association, which advocates for homeschoolers worldwide, had posted a report only days earlier calling on homeschoolers and supporters of parental rights from around the world to contact Swedish authorities.
“Sweden continues down a dark path of totalitarianism in education,” the plea for help said. “Although it is likely there are fewer than 100 homeschoolers in the country of 9 million, Swedish officials appear to be vigorously seeking to stomp out the small community.”
The organization cited the “harassment, hefty fines, referral to the courts, and threatening to or actually removing children.”
In the statement, Himmelstrand said family advocates should flood Swedish authorities with emails and telephone calls.
“Please write to the Swedish embassy in your country on our behalf and state that it is a mistake to equate the compulsory education requirement with mandatory school attendance,” he wrote.
Michael Donnelly, director of international relations at HSLDA, explained the gravity of the Swedish situation and the pivotal opportunity for homeschoolers around the world to support the families.
“Homeschooling is legal in the United States and in many other countries only after decades of tumultuous legislative and legal conflicts. Swedish families are now fighting for their basic rights. Please support Swedish homeschoolers and send the Swedish embassy in your country a respectful yet persuasive email as soon as possible, explaining how homeschooling has worked for your family and calling upon Sweden to allow parents to choose home education. The right of parents to choose the kind of education their children receive is a fundamental human right recognized by Article 26, part 3 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.”
Donnelly has warned that Americans should be alarmed, too.
“This is one of the reasons why it is important for American homeschoolers to be interested in what happens overseas. By fighting these ideas wherever they occur globally, we can prevent them from gaining traction here,” Donnelly said.
Some critics claim that other nations could soon be affected by similar totalitarian laws which attempt to remove parental rights and place them in clutches of government officials.
April McCarthy is a community journalist playing an active role reporting and analyzing world events to advance our health and eco-friendly initiatives.