October 19, 2019

Calls Needed to Reunite Homeschool Family

Please see below contacts for the Swedish and the Indian Embassies in New Zealand and Australia.

Calls Needed to Reunite Homeschool Family

e-mail October 7, 2009 from HSLDA.org

Dear HSLDA Members and Friends:

We recently told you about the plight of the Johanssons, a Swedish family whose only child, 7-year-old Dominic Johansson, was seized by Swedish police from a plane just as the family was about to leave the country for a new life in India.

After investigating the facts surrounding the case, HSLDA President J. Michael Smith wrote to Swedish officials to protest this action.

Read his letter: http://www.hslda.org/hs/international/Sweden/HSLDA_Sweden_Letter_9-16-09.pdf

Read the response from Mr. Berglind, minister of public affairs for the Swedish Embassy in Washington: http://www.hslda.org/hs/international/Sweden/Berglind_letter_10-5-09.pdf

Citing confidentiality concerns for not commenting on the Johansson case, Mr. Stigland noted that a county administrative board in Sweden is reviewing how it was handled by local officials.

In a telephone conversation with HSLDA, Mr. Johansson confirmed that he has been in contact with the county administrative board.

“They told me that they are looking into the case to determine if anything was done improperly,” he said.

And at a meeting with the social workers on Tuesday, October 6, Mr. Johansson was told that he and his wife would only be allowed to visit their son at the social workers office once every two weeks for a maximum of two hours.

What does Sweden hope to gain from such an aggressive action? The situation is tragic. It is deeply troubling that a Western democracy would go to such lengths to prevent a homeschool family from simply trying to leave the country.

Dominic has been traumatized, and his mother has been hospitalized several times because of the depression this incident has caused. Yet the social workers persist in keeping custody of Dominic. When Mr. Johansson asks why, they reply “Because it’s better for him.” According to Mr. Johansson, both he and Dominic have been subjected to psychological and other testing with results showing no valid reason for continued separation of the family.

In light of this aggressive behavior and because the Swedish parliament is poised to impose draconian regulations on homeschoolers, HSLDA is asking its members to contact the Swedish Ambassador to the United States.

Swedish Ambassador Jonas Hafström can be reached:

By email: ambassaden.washington@foreign.ministry.se

By phone: 202-467 2600By fax: 202-467 2699

Visit Swedish embassy website: http://www.swedenabroad.com/Start____6989.aspx

First, we ask you to request that the Swedish government return Dominic to his family. The social welfare agency has taken custody of Dominic, and they have the power to return him to his parents. Request that they do so immediately.

Second, inform the ambassador that homeschooling allows children to thrive academically and socially. Valid research has demonstrated that homeschooling is a mainstream educational approach that works. Tell him that the world doesn’t need any more countries like Germany that repress freedom in education, and that a person should be permitted to opt out of public education because of philosophical or religious convictions.

In his letter to Mr. Smith,  Mr. Stigland noted that since Sweden is a state party to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, that the starting point for children is Sweden is the “…best interests of the child and the child’s right to be heard….” Mr. Stigland noted that social services have an obligation to “intervene and remove a child from the family if the child’s health and development are endangered.” Mr. Stigland noted that a child should be returned home as soon as possible if it was “in the best interests of the child.”

Of grave concern to HSLDA is Mr. Stigland’s citation of the legislative history of the Education Act which says: “The legislative history of the current Education Act states that home schooling in isolated cases, mainly in the lower grades, might be an acceptable substitute for education if a particular external circumstance exists. Examples of such are: if the child lives in a sparsely populated area or needs special care. Legal practice shows that the situation also arises when parents for other reasons, such as philosophical or religious, want to educate their children at home. In connection with the new Education Act, these rules are now being reviewed.”

The act is indeed being reviewed and the proposal is even more draconian. The proposed language would remove philosophical or religious convictions as valid reasons to home school. The new law would allow homeschooling only in “extraordinary circumstances” (read: never). If the proposed Swedish law passes it would become as bad as in Germany where homeschooling is effectively banned.

Mike Farris recently said in his address to the World Congress of Families, “Any nation that severely restricts the ability of parents to choose alternative forms of education, including home education, in the name of creating national unity, cannot call itself a free nation. Freedom necessarily requires the individual to have the liberty to think differently and believe differently than programs instituted by the current rulers of any nation. Educational freedom is the cornerstone for all freedom of thought and conscience.”

HSLDA encourages its members to communicate their concerns to the Swedish Ambassador. We hope that his influence may help correct an injustice and also pave the way for better laws for homeschoolers in Sweden

HSLDA thanks its members and friends for their ongoing support. It’s when all homeschoolers join together that we are most effective advocating for homeschool freedom in America and abroad.

Read the HSLDA article: “Sweden—the Next Germany for Homeschoolers?” http://www.hslda.org/hs/international/Sweden/200909160.asp

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Our previous story:
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Swedish Representation in New Zealand

The Swedish Embassy in Canberra, Australia, is accredited to New Zealand. Embassy of Sweden
5 Turrana Street
Yarralumla
ACT 2600
Australia
Ph: +61 2 6270 2700
Fax: +61 2 6270 2755
Email: sweden@iimetro.com.au
Website: www.swedenabroad.com/Canberra [external link]

There is a Swedish Consulate General in Wellington and Consulates in Auckland and Christchurch.

Consulate-General of Sweden in Wellington
PO Box 125 38
Wellington 6144
Level 7, Molesworth House
101 Molesworth Street
Wellington 6011
New Zealand
Ph: +64 4 499 9895
Fax: +64 4 499 1464
Email: sweden@xtra.co.nz
Office hours: Mon-Fri 09.30-12.00

Consulate of Sweden in Auckland
Level 3
13 O’Connell Street
Auckland
Ph: +64 9 373 5332
Fax: +64 9 302 2535
Email: sweden.christchurch@xtra.co.nz

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Indian Representation in New Zealand

This family was on their way to India. In a comment on this post http://hef.org.nz/2009/home-schooled-boy-snatched-from-plane-in-sweden/ Cathi said “With the mother being a citizen of India, wouldn’t Dominic have dual citizenship? Maybe we need to also be contacting the Indian Ambassadors in our respective countries to get them to ask why a citizen of India is being held in their country.
So please also write to: High Commission for India in Wellington

General Inquries: hicomind@hicomind.org.nz

Mr. Kunal Roy

First Secretary (Acting High Commissioner)

04-4724851

pshc@hicomind.org.nz
counsellor@hicomind.org.nz

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A Bit of Political Advice to Home Educators

A Bit of Political Advice to Home Educators

The Editor would like to mention two things: When to speak and when not to speak.

The news that there will no longer be regular blanket reviews of everyone of us but only reviews of those over which there are specific questions isundoubtedly good news.

But this is the kind of news to keep to ourselves. We do not need to speak of this to anyone outside. Why? Because those who do not like home education could use this news to claim we are not being monitored properly, but that we “unqualified” parents are free to teach — or not to teach — as we please. Ed Balls in the UK is using this argument to
justify vast new interventions by the state to make sure the children are safe. After all, if state agents don’t get to see the children on a regular basis, who will be able to tell whether they are being abused in the home or not? That is, parents are all guilty until proven innocent. There are too many out there who think that way. And there are some within the home education community who think this way too.

Last time reviews were stopped, in 1994 by Lockwood Smith, the NZ Home Schooling Association (NZHSA), also known as the Federation (now defunct), screamed to the press that we were being abandoned, that we needed and wanted reviews!! Their logic was that the Federation wanted to get in on the reviews, and had circulated a document to every library in the country explaining their rationale and offering to do this for the ERO for a mere $6M anually!

Home educators were shocked to find such manipulation for personal gain within our own ranks. And the MoE and ERO declined the offer.

That’s when we should not speak. We need to speak clearly, however, when we write our exemptions. Most of us do, but there is some thinking out there which says, “we need to play games by writing our exemption applications in School-ese, so that MoE staff can hopefully understand. They can only assess the exemption application in terms
they understand, which is compulsory schooling. But we are not schooling institutions, we are families, and most people in the school industry cannot grasp that fairly basic idea.”

OK, we must not let them think of us as schooling institutions, I agree, and so we call ourselves “home educators”  rather than “home schoolers.” But although MoE personel are a varied lot from anti- to pro-HE, they are able to grasp HE (home education) and even unschooling, autonomous learning ideas….they are just biased, some more than others, and school stuff is how they’ve been trained. They have a professional and personal stake in seeing things from  school” perspectives. But they can think, and some are actually interested in learning theory and educational alternatives. Writing exemptions is the primary way we HEs educate the MoE into the mysteries of home education, unschooling, thematic studies, classical, Charlotte Mason, Steiner, mastery, principle approach, delight directed, etc., etc. Because there are no standards, no objective checklist of specific items against which the MoE can measure or even scale our exemption applications (no legal standards), but only their policy documents and professional opinion, we need to insist on our independence and the maximum scope allowed by the legal parameters of “at least as regularly and well as in a registered school.” This is pretty wide, for a registered school is not the same as a state school but encompasses every school in the land from the most straight laced Auckland Grammar and Rangitoto College to the most alternative Tamariki and Discovery 1 in Canterbury.

Writing exemptions in school-ese can make them think we are schooling institutions just like them or that we’re trying to be like them: nothing could be further from the truth. Write just what you are.

If they insist we need to have a technology or social studies component, simply ask them to produce the Education Act chapter and verse that says so, which of course they cannot do. If they get stroppy on that one, let me know and I’ll send you a copy of a letter I have from the MoE making it clear that we do not have to include any specific topic or follow the National Curriculum Guidelines. If they say that they “must be satisfied that the child will be taught at least…” with the emphasis on “satisfied”, point out that they have to be satisfied with “regular and well”, not any particular subject.

And their list of subjects is pretty pathetic compared to all the subjects there are in the world: and they don’t even include law or politics or religion or economics or ethics or philosophy or budgeting or logistics…..subjects we each deal with every single day of our lives. So their National Curriculum Guidelines aren’t too hot anyway.

My position is that they do not have any legitimate or moral authority in the area of education, and I only cooperate with them grudgingly and only so far as needed to stay within the law. But we cannot let them stray outside the law nor require us to adopt subject A or skill B when neither A nor B is legally required. If we do not monitor the MoE, who will?

“State schooling in this country is an inherently political instrument for social and cultural reproduction…[T]he state controls what knowledge is taught in schools…through a regulated core curriculum and…through teacher education and certification…[U]niversal compulsory schooling for the working classes has always been concerned with social control. This was a major theme in the parliamentary debates that preceded the Education Act of 1877, and political
socialization has continued to be an important function of schools…the schools have always been required to transmit state ideology.” Who wrote that? John Codd, Richard Harker and Roy Nash, professors of education at Massey University on pp.10-12 in their 1985 book Political Issues in New Zealand Education. The funny thing is that they  aren’t against this, but were complaining that their pet ideology wasn’t the one being pushed through the schools at that time!

All the more reason to be out of that system, to stay out of that system and to warn all others to get their dear children out of that system of state indoctrination and propaganda.

From TEACH Bulletin

No 130 July 2009

To see the rest of the articles in the July 2009 TEACH Bulletin:

http://hef.org.nz/teach-bulletin/

or

http://hef.org.nz/category/teach-bulletin/

July TEACH Bulletin 2009

NO MORE Reviews!!! Page 1 http://hef.org.nz/2009/no-more-ero-reviews/

The Excellence of Home Education Page 1

Inter-Party Working Group – for increasing parental and student choice in education Page 2

Sweden Page 3

United Kingdom Page 4

NCEA Grades Dubious Page 5

A Bit of Political Advice to Home Educators page 5

Coming Events page 8

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MoE/ERO Reviews

Some-one asked on hefnetnz http://groups.yahoo.com/group/hefnetnz/ and Trademe Message Board http://www.trademe.co.nz/Community/MessageBoard/Messages.aspx?id=29810245&threadid=29810245

“Is it TRUE that the MoE have decided to review every home schooled child in the next 12 months?”

Here is Craig’s answer:

Gidday all,

I think you can relax about this. Back in 1997/8 it was found that
neither the MoE nor the ERO actually had the legal authority to conduct
reviews of home educators. The Education Legislation Amendment Act (No.
2) closed up that loophole by adding sections 328A through 328D to the
main Act plus a couple other bits and pieces. So now it appears that the
ERO (not the MoE) has the power to order either general or specific
Reviews. The MoE buys a certain number of Reviews from the ERO each
year, about 600 or so, I believe. That’s just under 10% of the home
educated children out there.

For all of the approximately 6,500 home educated children to be reviewed
in the next 12 months would be a massively expensive logistical exercise
in terms of money, time and personnel. It won’t happen. They have to
give each of you one month notice (don’t ever accept less than this),
and then some of you will sadly inform them that the date they suggested
is totally out of the question for this or that reason.

It wouldn’t hurt to, at this time, check out what the Education Act
actually says in this regard. You can go to:

http://www.legislation.govt.nz

and click on “Acts” search and then type in “education act” under “quick
search title”, then click the first item in the list, “Education Act
1989” and read through Sections 323 through 328D. It doesn’t hurt to
have a squizz at the enrollment, attendance and exemption bits in
Sections 20 through 35A and the bit about truancy officers in Section
31. It is all very instructive.

I cannot find anywhere in the Education Act or any of its Amendments
that any school is required to teach anything in particular. Section
35A(1)c requires private schools (not state schools) to inculcate the
sentiments of patriotism and loyalty, but I cannot find that state
schools are required to do any more than be open and provide teaching of
a secular character…that is, it doesn’t appear to me that schools are
required by law to teach reading, writing, arithmetic or anything else.
And a read through Sections 60 through 64 does not convince me that even
state schools are required by law to follow the national curriculum
guidelines, which themselves don’t seem to require much of anything
either, except sexuality education all across primary and secondary
years.

Regards,

Craig Smith
Moderator, Hefnetnz

National Director, Home Education Foundation

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Parents to get truancy reminders

ttp://www.stuff.co.nz/nelsonmail/4666609a6007.html

Parents to get truancy reminders

By MARCUS STICKLEY – Nelson | Monday, 25 August 2008

Parents could soon start being prosecuted for taking their children out of school for a holiday, a Nelson principal says.

Primary schools have been reinforcing attendance rules with parents after receiving reminders from the Education Ministry to do so.

Under the Education Act, every pupil enrolled at a registered school must attend the school whenever it is open. Ministry guidelines say it is up to principals to decide whether an absence is justified.

Parents can be prosecuted for not sending their children to school, and fines of $15 a day – up to $150 for a first offence – can be imposed if they are convicted.

Hampden St School principal Don McLean said that for a school to prosecute a parent for taking their child away on holiday would be a “bold thing to do, but maybe it’s not too far away”.

In his school newsletter in May, he told parents that the ministry was taking a “tougher line on attendance and have clearly defined what a justifiable absence is and what truancy is”.

“Some of you may be surprised to hear that if you take your child on an overseas trip in school time, this is considered an unjustified absence and therefore your children are recorded as truant.”

Similarly, a week-long ski trip during school time would also be unjustified, he said in the newsletter.

Mr McLean told the Nelson Mail the school kept a record of pupils who missed school due to family holidays, and he planned to “take parents aside” to discuss the issue if they did it regularly.

“We have to get tough on them.”

However, he said the rules were “one size fits all”, which he did not agree with.

If a pupil was travelling to a destination such as Europe, the cultural education they would get could be more valuable than what they would learn in the classroom in that time, he said.

Mr McLean said four children were currently away overseas, mostly for family reasons.

“There seems to be a lot at the moment.”

Hampden St School parent Andrew Meffan has taken his two children on week-long skiing holidays to Wanaka during the school term in previous years.

He said he planned to do the same next week, staying with members of his extended family in a house that was available to them only at certain times during the year.

“But we don’t want to be on the wrong side of the rules and have a truancy officer knock on our door.”

Mr Meffan said truancy rules needed to be targeted appropriately.

“There needs to be more of an evaluation of cases based on the student and family, and commitment to learning.”

St Paul’s Catholic Primary School principal John Dorman said he had received a letter from the ministry before the start of the school year, saying schools should not condone parents taking their children out of school for holidays.

Craig wrote this letter to the editor:

25 August 2008

Letter to Editor

Nelson Mail

Nelson

The idea of schools threatening parents with truancy notices for taking their children on holiday demonstrates one of the more obvious characteristics of state schooling institutions: that they are simply prisons or child warehouses, designed to baby-sit kids and keep them off the streets.

A holiday with the family, the MoE apparently informs the schools, is not a “justified” absence from school. So the MoE equates a geographical/cultural/social field trip with a child’s parents and siblings to hanging around the mall or sitting at home watching videos all day. The MoE demonstrates again its disconnection from the real world. Any formal notification by the parents that they are taking the child out of the schooling institution should be justification enough: the parents’ authority should trump that of the MoE any day.

Regards,

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