May 2016

Protecting Home Education Long-term: Global Partners Needed

Submitted by HSLDA of Canada

HSLDA Canada president Paul Faris discusses how to develop congenial relationships with politicians to work toward homeschool freedom.

HSLDA Canada president Paul Faris discusses how to develop congenial relationships with politicians to work toward homeschool freedom.

After a particularly surprising election result in the Canadian province of Alberta, Paul Faris, President of HSLDA Canada, gave a video message saying, “At the end of the day all of these politicians are reasonable people who can be talked with and who truly want what is best for the children. Even if we disagree on what is best for the children, that common ground is still there.”  Faris has remained undaunted in his goal of advocating for the homeschooling movement regardless of which political party is in power, or what the prevailing views of education are. Watch the video message.

Homeschool advocacy in Canada

By way of background, HSLDA Canada is a non-profit organization that only exists through the membership model. This means that members pay a fee to join the organization, and then those dollars are used to defend and to help the members. It is a cooperative model whereby the fees submitted by the members enable us to help them specifically, and the homeschool movement broadly.

While political parties, social opinions, and cultural norms may change, HSLDA Canada’s mandate to empower, to equip, and to encourage homeschoolers remains the same.  As the national homeschool support group in Canada, HSLDA Canada is positioned to speak at every level of government to protect and to defend homeschooling families from political opinion or policy that might threaten the freedoms currently extended to homeschooling.

Working from a perspective that aims to build congenial relationships with politicians and with school board officials has set HSLDA Canada up for success and favour in their negotiations on potentially heated issues.

Unsolicited home visits in Manitoba

An example of this recently developed in the province of Manitoba. This quiet prairie province has a number of provincial homeschool support groups that work with HSLDA Canada in their pursuit of promoting and preserving the homeschool movement. Meanwhile, the homeschool department of the Ministry of Education is very small, historically filled by only one liaison. As such, over the years, HSLDA Canada and the various provincial support groups have been able to foster and maintain a positive and cooperative relationship with the homeschool liaison. A genuine desire to understand homeschooling on the part of the liaison was matched with a sincere intention to be cooperative on the part of the homeschooling families.

Unfortunately, the liaison initiated phone calls to homeschooling families requesting—and making—unsolicited home visits. These visits were not required at any level of school board, provincial, or national notification. As awareness of these requests became known to HSLDA Canada, we initiated conversations with the homeschool liaison and the Ministry of Education. President Paul Faris advocated for homeschooling families, explaining why these home visits were not only intrusive and unnecessary, but also how they were inappropriate and insufficient means of truly understanding the success of homeschooling.

Here is a clear demonstration of the effectiveness of the membership model that HSLDA Canada is using. Because of the many years of relationship forming and foundation building, HSLDA Canada was able to have many persuasive interactions with the officials in question, and we were able to successfully resolve the issue at hand—advancing the homeschool movement in general. And when the homeschool liaison imposed these demands upon HSLDA member families—HSLDA Canada defended each family specifically. This achievement obviously benefits homeschooling families in Manitoba, but it has an impact and sets precedent for future issues across the nation.

Global homeschool leadership

HSLDA Canada’s involvement in global leadership endeavours are heavily influenced by the impact experienced here at home. Paul Faris has written, “While HSLDA Canada is strong and active in our own country, there are many homeschooling dangers that come from other countries and international organizations, such as the UN and its various bodies. If we are to protect homeschooling in the long term, we will need international partners. Imagine a day in which there are fifty or more countries with their own legal defense organization, or similar associations, that can work together to protect and to promote homeschooling around the world!”

As HSLDA Canada continues to grow and to make itself known as a recognized political and legal voice for its members, it also grows as an example to follow for the international homeschooling community. With intentionality and camaraderie, homeschooling leaders around the world can unite and stand together for the freedom to teach the next generation at home.

Home School Legal Defence Association of Canada is a national organization that works on behalf of home educators across Canada. Paul Faris serves as President and Senior Legal Counsel.

 Other Resources

Learn more by visiting HSLDA Canada’s website.