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11/19/2003 6:06:38 PM
Home School Legal Defense Association
Update - The Netherlands Still Needs our Help To Legalize Homeschooling

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From the HSLDA E-lert Service...
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November 19, 2003

Dear HSLDA Members and friends,

Thank you for all your emails and calls on behalf of homeschoolers in
the Netherlands! As we mentioned previously, most members of
parliament do not think the issue is very important because it only
effects 50 families that are legally homeschooling. This impression
may be changing after the thousands of emails the Minister of
Education and Education Committee received. As announced, the Dutch
parliament debated homeschooling on October 30. The session was to
discuss both homeschools and private schools. Many more children
attend private schools, but the Committee spent more than half of the
meeting talking about legalizing homeschooling.

HSLDA sent Dutch homeschoolers a package of materials to assist in
their lobbying efforts, including studies on the academic success of
homeschoolers and articles on the world-wide growth of the
homeschooling movement. These materials were very helpful in making
a positive impression.

At least two small parties are pro-homeschooling now and one member
of parliament (MP) spoke out strongly for legalizing homeschooling in
the Netherlands.

Unfortunately, the Education Committee granted the Minister of
Education the authority to develop legislation for the inspection of
homeschooling. Most MP's seemed to be in agreement with her plan to
not legalize homeschooling, and to pass legislation for rigorous
inspections of existing homeschools.

Therefore, we are asking you to take time to contact the Dutch
embassy in order to express your support of the Dutch homeschoolers.

ACTION REQUESTED

While the emails you sent were mentioned during the meeting, the
Minister of Education tried to dismiss them by saying "they were all
the same." Please take time to send this message in your own words,
and be sure to include information on how your family has benefited
from homeschooling.

"Please officially recognize homeschooling in the Netherlands with
only minimal regulations. Any parent should be allowed the right to
homeschool without arbitrary and intrusive inspections as is now
proposed. One of the most basic human rights that every free nation
must recognize, is the right of parents to choose the education and
training of their children. Homeschooling is producing thousands of
productive and successful adults. Homeschooling works and should be
protected."

You can also give some general information about the success of your
homeschool.

Deliver the message to:

1) Call Ambassador Boudewijn van Eenennaam at the Dutch embassy (202)
244-5300 or via e-mail was@minbuza.nl

(A copy to the Netherlands Home School Association is important,
home-education@xs4all.nl, so that they can make a compilation of your
messages and present them to the Dutch press).

BACKGROUND

The homeschoolers in the Netherlands are extremely grateful for your
help. Because of the outpouring of international attention, the
parliament is open now to meeting with homeschoolers. While the
local homeschoolers are negotiating over the next month, we want to
keep up a steady pressure on the Dutch embassy.

We are also working with Congressman Todd Akin and other homeschool
supporters in Congress to sign a letter in support of the Dutch
homeschoolers to send to the Minister and parliament.

In the Netherlands home education as such is currently not an
officially legal option. Homeschooling parents may try to get an
exemption from school registration, but only for deeply felt
religious or philosophical reasons. However, these exemptions are
recognized with great reluctance, for children are not considered to
be educated effectively without public school attendance. Many are
denied. Once a
child has attended a school even this option is barred.

Now only the parents of about a 100 children have been able to avoid
this trap to secure their freedom. Many more families would like to
home-educate their children but are not able to get their way without
years filled with court cases and child protection investigations.

Since some court cases have been won rather unexpectedly by home-
educators this year, Maria van der Hoeven, the Dutch Minister of
Education, wants to make life even more difficult for them. Despite
the fact that the current law does not consider home-education to be
an effective option compared with institutional schooling, she wants
to put homeschoolers under tight educational supervision. The
Education Committee of the Second Chamber, the Dutch House of
Representatives, debated her plan October 30, at 10.00 AM.

The Netherlands Home School Association sent us this plea, "We, a
group of home-educating parents in the Netherlands, want home-
education to become a legal option, its efficacy recognized by the
authorities, and most of all we want parents to exercise a free
choice for and with their children without unnecessary state
interference.

"That is why we ask for your help. We know some members of parliament
sympathize with us, after receiving tens of pages of arguments
against the Minister's view, but all this input has come from a small
group of activists so far.

"So, after delivering lots of research and different legislative
possibilities we need a lot of your messages to reach the hearts of
those Members of Parliament! Let them find out that home-education
has grown to a worldwide grass-roots movement of responsible
families!"

Thank you for assisting the homeschool movement in the Netherlands!

Sincerely,

Chris Klicka
HSLDA Senior Counsel



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