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Sep 12, 2012

Persecuted Homeschoolers Catch A Glimpse of Hope in Global Gathering

Charity Klicka

   The story of Juergen and Rosemary Dudek is one of continuous oppression---the powerful resources of a state against one family. Suffering loss after loss at the hands of trial courts because of their diligence in homeschooling eight children over eight years in the Federal Public of Germany (where homeschooling is essentially illegal), the Dudeks now await a ruling from the country’s supreme constitutional court.

   In view of yet another loss, Mr, Duedek struggles with despair as he seeks encouragement from his faith and his fellow homeschoolers. In a recent email to HSLDA, Mr. Duedek relates his despair at the depravity of the school system in Germany, “Last night was short—I could hardly sleep. I was drowning in futility with a venomous sting of injustice numbing me. Doom forecast a shadow over our family with no way out. Our begging was of no avail. I can only turn to God for strength.”

   Trials have struck again and again in the Dudek household. They have forgone many sentences, including the well-known 2009 sentence of 90 days in jail for each parent.

   Mr. Dudek holds out hope that a planned Global conference in his country might help with his case for homeschooling. “My attorney tells me that somehow this system cannot continue,” he says. “It is so wrong for families to be treated this way. Perhaps a conference will help put things in their proper perspective and convince authorities that homeschooling families should not be treated this way."

   In their fight for homeschool freedom, the Duedek’s can have confidence that they are not fighting this battle alone. Just a hop, skip and a boatride away, homeschoolers in Sweden face a similar declining legal situation.

   Jonas Himmelstrand, the president of Swedish national homeschooling association (ROHUS) who is in exile in neighboring Finland, continuing the battle for his family and many others, explains that ““Home education is not only the world’s fastest growing form of schooling, it is also one of the most urgent human rights issues in the democratic world today. The United Nations Declaration of Human Rights makes it all very clear in article 26.3: Parents have a prior right to choose the kind of education that shall be given to their children … However, not all countries respect this right equally.”

   Just as Mr. Dudek hoped, Himmelstrand says the time has come for a global conversation on the issue of home education.

   “I chair a board of homeschool leaders from all over the world to organize the first-ever global home education conference in Berlin this November,” he says. “… We hope for positive change in attitudes towards parents who home educate. But we can’t do it alone.”

   In all areas, homeschooling is a minority proposal, especially in Europe. In some places, such as Germany and Sweden, homeschooling is essentially illegal---even persecuted. But Himmelstrand along with the other organizers of November’s global home education conference in Berlin hope that, by delivering a message grounded in human rights to the very center of Europe itself, things may indeed change.

   Endorsed by the German Friedrich Naumann foundation and sponsored by American and other home education support organizations such as Classical Conversations, Clonlara School, and HSLDA among others, the global home education conference is being funded by sponsorships and donations. The endorsement list consisting of some 60 other national (but often fledgling) homeschooling organizations shows that there is interest in a global dialogue over the issue.

   Along with high-level European political leaders, policy makers, and academics, international human rights attorney Michael Farris will be a speaker at the conference. Farris draws our attention to the point that international pressures are mounting against families: “… The unfortunate trend in recent decades with some UN treaties is to put the state in a position superior to parents in making decisions about their children. This should not be. A global home education conference will advance an important discussion about education and human rights.”

   Michael Donnelly, attorney and director for international relations at HSLDA (as well as secretary of the organizing committee) stresses the importance of American homeschoolers supporting this international outreach.

    “American homeschoolers enjoy great freedom to homeschool. By supporting the GHEC 2012 conference, we can give hope to our beleaguered friends abroad and also strengthen arguments in favor of home education everywhere,” Donnelly urges. “We should not sit by and watch other nations persecute their citizens over what should be a protected and fundamental human right. I’m asking all of our friends to get involved by supporting this conference.”

Will you get involved? Watch video HERE.

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