As a homeschooling dad and HSLDA attorney, it is a great privilege for me to interact with homeschoolers from all over the world. Even as I defend homeschoolers here in the United States from overreaching school officials, aggressive social workers, and statist legislators, I am inspired by the courage and bravery of our international brothers and sisters—many who homeschool under great pressure in some places.
There is little doubt that the homeschooling movement is growing all over the world–even in light of government repression such as in the case of the Wunderlich children.. My conversations and study of these stories indicate that people report common problems with public education, including bullying, gangs, negative peer pressure, objectionable curricular material, not meeting the individual needs of students, and not taking special needs into account whether for remedial or advanced students, among other things. As we routinely handle requests for information from international homeschooling families, a critical part of what we do at HSLDA is to encourage families who often feel like “lone rangers.” By connecting them to others in their region for mutual support and encouragement, these families gain the resources they need to continue on their homeschool journey. Not so long ago, this was the case in the United States—although many of us here may have forgotten it.
There was a time when American homeschoolers were few and isolated. Homeschooling was not clearly legal, and many families lived in a constant state of concern and uncertainty—knowing they were doing what was right and best—but also fully aware that they were on shaky legal ground and could get in trouble. Many did get in trouble. HSLDA was involved in a large number of these cases. The American homeschool movement history is rife with similar pressures that homeschoolers in Germany and other hostile places face, such as allegations of educational neglect, visits and threats from social workers and truancy officers, and fines for not sending children to school. There have been, and continue to be, many court cases. But with hard work, homeschoolers in America gained victories in legislative bodies.
Even as the courage and conviction of international homeschooling families is inspirational, I can tell you that you are inspirational to them. Homeschoolers overseas look at our accomplishments academically, socially, and legislatively and long for similar freedom. Some, as you know, like my good friends the Romeike family, have left their lives and family in Germany to seek asylum in the US. It is important to remember that we are working with international homeschoolers to advance our common cause in the face of common critics. Those who oppose homeschooling over there do so for the same reasons as those who oppose homeschooling over here. They believe that it is the role of the state to teach its values to children-rather than respecting the God-given right and responsibility of parents to decide how and what children learn. So when we fight for their freedom, we also strengthen the underpinnings of our freedom.
As a homeschooling dad, I know the hard labor (and yes, often rewarding labor, but not always on a daily basis) required of the homeschooling mom. It isn’t easy and requires much sacrifice. Let me encourage you, mom, with the knowledge that what you do is vitally important. Not only is the work you do every day in your own home important to future generations of your family, but what you do day after day, year after year, builds a monument that inspires thousands to follow after you and to build strong foundations for their own families and for freedom all over the world!
Director of International Affairs