HOME SCHOOLING / INTERNATIONAL
Sweden
Sweden

August 23, 2010

Homeschoolers Vow to Continue in Face of New Law

“We made the decision this weekend that … we’re going to take this year again to homeschool.”

Homeschool mom Lisa Angerstig, an American married to a Swede, states that she will continue to homeschool in Uppsala, Sweden this coming year—with or without permission from the authorities. In the midst of a court battle with the local municipality and ever-increasing fines equivalent to $1,400 in U.S. currency, the family is convinced that the best way for their son Isak to learn is at home.

A Swedish radio station recently interviewed Angerstig, as well as two Swedish officials involved in the Uppsala court battles against local homeschool families.

“Over the years,” Lisa says, “homeschooling has really helped our kids individually.” She points out that in the United States, homeschooling is quite common and is considered a good alternative for attaining the same goals the schools are striving for. In fact, studies have shown that homeschooled children often receive higher test scores and are more socially well-adjusted than their public-schooled peers. In addition, Lisa states that homeschooling helps to foster an environment where children are open and curious to learn. “The goal of education [is to] instill that curiosity that doesn’t stop throughout their lifetime.” Educating their children at home has also helped the family as a whole: “We stay close and communicate better.”

In a recent article by the Swedish newspaper Uppsala Nya Tidning, 12-year-old Isak expresses his opinion: “I want to continue to homeschool in the fall when I start in sixth grade … Homeschooling means I get more help, and that I can spend more time on topics I am interested in.”

Angerstig also presented a clear case against Sweden’s aggressive position that all children must attend public school, regardless of circumstances. The homeschool mom states that their local municipality has never given any information as to why homeschooling does not work, whereas the family has provided positive evidence to the school again and again. Authorities have repeatedly criticized homeschooling as an unviable form of education, Angerstig says, by offering answers such as, “He’s not being socialized unless he’s in school.”

“That’s not a real answer. Because I can say, sitting in school, they can’t guarantee me my children are going to be socialized.”

In Isak’s case, Lisa says, “we’ve had oversight [by officials] … to show that homeschooling does work.” Lisa explains that Isak did very well last year and met all the requirements. “We follow a similar plan as what the local schools follow. We look at their plan, and we buy some of the books, too. He’s getting the same information as what any other fifth or sixth grader would be getting. So it’s simply a question with the [municipality] of how it’s delivered.”

The radio station also interviewed a Swedish lawyer who is involved in the cases against homeschoolers. Her comments support the staunch position that in Sweden all children must attend school. She completely discounts the positive results that homeschooling is producing. Instead, she focuses on whether homeschool parents have teaching credentials and a “school-like plan” for socialization.

“Places like Harvard, Yale, MIT, and Berkeley [are] all admitting homeschoolers into their programs without any reservation,” states Lisa. “So to say it doesn’t work and not provide a reason is definitely a reason for us to continue on with the legal process.” Lisa states that it is not their intention to pit homeschoolers against the local schools; they simply wish to retain the right to direct the education of their children. This means that the Angerstigs, along with other homeschoolers in their area, will continue to petition the court and homeschool regardless of the outcome.

Sweden’s new education law, passed in June 2010, allows parents to educate their children at home only in the most rare of cases. By adding the phrase “exceptional circumstances” into the law’s two-page section on home education, the government effectively eliminates the possibility to homeschool legally in Sweden. Over the past year, homeschool families have already endured the denial of permission to homeschool, fines amounting to hundreds and thousands of dollars, and countless court cases. Swedish homeschoolers are waiting to discover how officials will interpret the new law and what ramifications may follow.

Yet as the interview with Lisa Angerstig demonstrates, Swedish families remain committed to pursuing the best form of education for their children. When homeschooling is the best option, families will continue to teach their children at home this coming year, even in the face of an unfavorable legal climate.

ROHUS, the Swedish Association for Home Education, has posted the 11-minute interview to its website. Please go online to listen to the interview (portions of the interview are in English).

HSLDA continues to support embattled Swedish homeschoolers to advance the cause of homeschooling and family freedom. To be a part of our efforts to support international homeschooling, you can become a member of HSLDA or donate to the international fund at the Home School Foundation’s website. HSLDA is grateful for the support of our members and invites you to learn more about maximizing your membership by reviewing the benefits that are available.