Dear HSLDA of Canada Members,
It's coming . . . like an ocean wave building strength and surging as it approaches land, the home-schooling movement in Canada is growing. Home schooling, recognized by the Supreme Court of Canada as a legitimate form of education, is an option more and more families are choosing. Home schoolers are organizing provincial associations. British Columbia, Alberta, and Saskatchewan all have organized province-wide, and home schoolers in other provinces are in the process of "linking arms."
While veteran home schoolers welcome the addition of the many new families to our ranks, this ground swell movement toward educating our children at home is not welcomed on all fronts. Some government officials and others who have known only the traditional education system do not understand how "real" education can happen in a home and are philosophically opposed to home schooling. Their opposition varies from allowing present home schoolers to continue while cautioning new families against it, to lobbying departments of education to impose stringent regulations to discourage homeschooling families.
For these reasons Home School Legal Defense Association of Canada provides a crucial service at a crucial time for home schoolers in Canada. With Canadian Board Members and a Canadian lawyer, the help offered to home schoolers through HSLDA is contextualized to the fabric of Canadian life and history. Hundreds of Canadian home-schooling families have joined since 1991, and for good reason: HSLDA of Canada provides a watchful eye on legislation and court cases in each province which affect the freedom of families to educate their own children.
In June, the Canadian Board and HSLDA of Canada lawyer, Dallas Miller, attended the Gregg Harris seminar in Brantford, Ontario. Over 500 home schoolers heard a legal update on the situation in Ontario. With an NDP government, Ontario is not hospitable to home schools, and there are indications that things are going to get tougher. A letter to all HSLDA members will be sent soon with a description of the options open to them this fall.
With Ralph Klein's restructuring of education in Alberta, the regulations governing home schoolers are changing. While some good things are included in the new regulations, some unacceptable items have been introduced as well. As indicated in the last Court Report, Alberta Education requires testing for all home schoolers in grades 3, 6, and 9. HSLDA lawyer Dallas Miller is actively working on behalf of our member families to alleviate these burdensome requirements, and he has met with the Minister of Education several times. Working in cooperation with the Alberta Home Educators Association (the provincial association for home schoolers), HSLDA provides the legal muscle necessary for dealing with government. While we prefer to negotiate with government officials and help draft good regulations, we may have to go to court if the government is unwilling to cooperate.
HSLDA is also keeping a watchful eye on the federal level. Two crucial items which could greatly affect home-schooling families all across Canada are the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child, and the movement to remove from section 43 of the criminal code the right of parents and guardians to use reasonable corporal punishment. Dallas Miller is preparing two briefs to deal proactively with these issues. HSLDA will also network with Focus on the Family (Canada) and the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada on these two items.
In an effort to enlighten both home schoolers and "professional educators" about home schooling, HSLDA of Canada coordinated a Canada-wide survey of home schoolers, under the direction of Dr. Brian Ray of the National Home Education Research Institute. The results are good for home schoolers in Canada! A summary of the study will be available this fall. The report will be mailed to all HSLDA of Canada members, as well as to provincial education departments. We are looking forward to getting the good news out!
Board Member, HSLDA of Canada