September 1, 2014

Swedish home education leader goes into political exile: “The dangers for the family were too great.”

Riksföreningen för Hemundervisning i Sverige – Rohus

“In the end, the safety of my family could no longer be guaranteed. The threats from Uppsala municipality were too many, too brutal, and every invitation to dialogue was turned down. The actions of the Uppsala local government could hardly be interpreted in any other way than as a hidden message of deportation”, says Jonas Himmelstrand, President of the Swedish Association for Home Education (ROHUS), regarding the silent move of his family from Sweden to the Aland Islands, Finland, in a form of political exile.

The Himmelstrands have had a conflict with Uppsala municipality about the right to home educate for three and a half years. The top Municipal Commissioner, Ms. Cecilia Forss of the Moderate Party, is politically responsible and claims to be well familiar with the case. From the start the lawyer for the municipality chose an extremely restrictive interpretation of the school law. After two years of struggle the Himmelstrands finally got a leave of appeal at the Kammarrätten, the Swedish mid-level court, where the verdict was still pending when the Himmelstrands left Sweden. Even with this leave of appeal, Uppsala municipality still directed a modern form of political persecution of the family which escalated in the months before the family left Sweden.

In November 2011 the principal of the school that was enrolling the Himmelstrand’s youngest home educated son reported the parents to the local social authorities. The report was filed the day after Jonas Himmelstrand debated home education on national radio with the chair of the Educational Committee of the Swedish Parliament, Margareta Pålsson of the Moderate Party. It is not known whether these events were connected or not. The reporting principal had never met Mr. Himmelstrand or his seven-year-old son. However, she did know that the Himmelstrand family were already homeschooling their 13 year old daughter and had now filed the application forms to home educate their son.  The principal reported the parents to the social authorities stating in three sentences that she was concerned that the child was not in school. When directly questioned she said it was ”routine” to submit such a report. No higher official has yet responded as to the legal nature of this ”routine” report which appears to be calculated hostility towards the family.

Jonas Himmelstrand met with the social authorities without his son. The social worker was somewhat surprised at the minimal information the principal had provided and the fact that no meeting had taken place before the report was submitted.  The social authorities decided not to do any further investigation of the family. In their report they concluded that this was a question for educational law and not a matter for the social authorities. The Himmelstrands were lucky. Not everyone called to the Swedish social authorities has been this lucky. Every Swedish home educator knows about Dominic Johansson who was taken into custody for home educating. Before leaving the social services office, Jonas Himmelstrand asked if the safety of the family could be guaranteed while home educating in Sweden. He was told that if he wanted to home educate safely he should leave Sweden.

Just before Christmas the Children’s Board of the Uppsala municipality, led by Ms. Cecilia Forss, applied at court for a fine of $26,000 USD for home schooling one child, the Himmelstrand’s daughter, for the school year 2010-2011. According to ROHUS sources, this amount is nearly ten times higher than any homeschooling family has been assessed in recent years.  ”It is hard to interpret this excessive amount in any other way than as a punishment for being President for ROHUS and for my international criticism of Swedish family policies”, says Jonas Himmelstrand.

During 2011 Jonas Himmelstrand presented a critical view of Swedish family policies, based on his own research, in nine cities in eight countries on two continents, including the UN in New York. This was done in the role of family research expert at the Swedish family association Haro, and as the founder of the Mireja Institute, a Swedish secular pro-family think-tank. Jonas Himmelstrand is also the chairman of the board of the world’s first global home education conference, scheduled to take place in Central Europe in November 2012.

After being informed about the $26,000 USD fine, Jonas Himmelstrand wrote a sharply worded letter to Ms. Cecilia Forss and asked if she felt it was reasonable to devastate the financial stability of a family for the sake of a controversial political principle. Mr. Himmelstrand also wrote that he perceived the threat to the family of a sum which they could never pay to be a form of hidden deportation. Ms. Cecilia Forss chose not to answer the letter directly. However, two weeks later a letter arrived with another decision from the Children’s Board, again led by Ms.  Cecilia Forss, asking the court for a new fine for the current school year of approximately $15,000 USD.

”It is not possible to live in a country where leading politicians are ready to financially ruin a family for the sake of ideology, and threaten families with the sometimes incompetent, but always powerful Swedish social authorities. Beyond that, they have refused every invitation to meet and discuss the situation. It is not healthy to live under such stress,” says Jonas Himmelstrand.

The Himmelstrand family quietly left Sweden in early February and are today living on the Aland Islands in Finland, where home education is allowed under Finnish law. ”It is an incredible relief, and only now are we starting to understand the degree of pressure we have lived under for many years”, says Jonas Himmelstrand. ”At the same time it is an almost surreal experience to be forced to leave Sweden for an issue which in most of the democratic world, and by the UN, is regarded as a human right.”

The Himmelstrands are not alone in leaving Sweden and living in exile due to their desire to home educate. During the last two years about a dozen families have left Sweden for the same reason. ”We have several Swedish home educating families as neighbors on the Aland Islands,” says Jonas Himmelstrand.

Even if half of the board members now live in exile in Denmark and on the Aland Islands in no way will this diminish the work of ROHUS. ”In fact, we will be more effective when we do not feel our families are under threat”, says Jonas Himmelstrand.

Home education is regarded by the UN as a valid form of education under the concept of ”the right of education”. Home education is permitted in most of the world’s democracies with the exception of Germany (under their school law of 1938) and now Sweden. The research on home education shows excellent student results both academically and socially. Removing the choice to home educate must therefore be seen as an infringement on a human right.  Those who are punished for home education must be seen as politically persecuted, and those who are forced to emigrate as going into political exile.

To read this article to to:

http://www.mynewsdesk.com/se/view/pressrelease/swedish-home-education-leader-goes-into-political-exile-the-dangers-for-the-family-were-too-great-737463

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From the Smiths:

http://hef.org.nz/2011/craig-smith-26-january-1951-to-30-september-2011/

Updated 24 February 2012: Life for Those Left Behind (Craig Smith’s Health) page 6 click here

*****

Needing help for your home schooling journey:

http://hef.org.nz/2011/needing-help-for-your-home-schooling-journey-2/

And

Here are a couple of links to get you started home schooling:

http://hef.org.nz/getting-started-2/

and

http://hef.org.nz/exemptions/

This link is motivational:
http://hef.org.nz/category/all-about-education/

Will National force homeschooling beneficiaries to go to work?

FROM:

http://kiwipolemicist.wordpress.com/2008/12/22/will-national-force-homeschooling-beneficiaries-to-go-to-work/

Will National force homeschooling beneficiaries to go to work?

In an earlier post I wrote about National’s plan to force beneficiaries to find work once their children reach school age, and I showed how this ill-conceived idea will backfire.

I was concerned that beneficiaries who wished to homeschool might not be allowed to do so, so I emailed Paula Bennett, the new Minister of Social Development (Minister of Social Welfare in old-speak). Today I have received a letter from her which says in part:

paula-bennett-letter-22-12-08-excerpt

This is a tricky situation for a classical liberalist. On one hand I am opposed to taxpayer-funded welfare, and on the other hand I am opposed to state education that indoctrinates children and undermines families.

On balance I believe that beneficiaries should be allowed to homeschool for the following reasons¹:

1) it’s better for the taxpayers: paying a benefit is cheaper than sending a child to school plus paying a partial benefit to a parent who is working part time².

2) a child that is homeschooled is more likely to benefit society than one who is schooled by the state, because a child who is taught well at home has better academic results, more maturity and is better when it comes to logic and independent thought. They do not turn into adults who continually grasp the mammaries of the nanny state³.

3) as I said in the post linked to above, the state uses schools to undermine families, and undermining families harms children as well as the rest of society.

4) the fundamental issue here is whether or not children of beneficiaries will be forced into state schools, and I believe that parents should be free to raise their children as they see fit and free of the liberal left propaganda that is fed to children in schools

multiculturalismcartoon

As Bennett’s letter says, she is still considering whether or not to force the children of beneficiaries into state schools. I strongly urge you to make a stand for freedom and email her or write to her, stating that you wish to see an exemption to the work rule for beneficiaries who desire to homeschool4. It helps to give reasons for your belief, a paragraph will suffice.

Click here for Paula Bennett’s email form.

A stamp is not required for snail mail:

Hon Paula Bennett
Parliament Office
Private Bag 18888
Parliament Buildings
Wellington 6160

What are your thoughts regarding beneficiaries who wish to homeschool?

When you’ve written to Paula Bennett please post a copy of the letter in a comment or send a copy to me via the contact page.

**********

1) there is no perfect solution in our present society, so I am focusing on the lesser of the evils.

2) this statement is based upon a back-of-the-envelope calculation.

3) this statement is based upon my personal observations of children who are homeschooled.

4) The state is arrogant enough to police parents who homeschool via the Education Review Office, so beneficiaries won’t find that homeschooling is an easy way to avoid work.

Home schoolers swap teaching tips

http://www.stuff.co.nz/stuff/4633178a7694.html

Home schoolers swap teaching tips

By JOHN HARTEVELT – The Press | Monday, 28 July 2008

Parents who home school their students compared notes on a surge in their number at a gathering in Christchurch at the weekend.

Home schoolers from Christchurch and around the country met in Bishopdale for a curriculum fair and a series of workshops.

National director of the Home Education Foundation Craig Smith said about 50 people attended and visited seminars which covered topics ranging from classical education to how home education could prevent burnout.

Home schooling appealed to many parents because of the “administrative bullying” of teachers and the public education system in general.

“I hear a lot parents tell me my child’s been at school now for three years and they haven’t learned a darn thing,” Smith said.

The number of children home schooled has grown from about 5280 10 years ago to 6500 in July last year.

Home-schooled children must obtain a certificate of exemption from regular schooling.

The Ministry of Education said home-based schooling must meet the same standards as registered schools.

Kathy Duncan said her four children, aged between five and 12, mixed with a lot of other children who were home schooled.

“Certainly our children wouldn’t socialise with 30 other children the same age as them every day but they do have friends they see regularly,” Duncan said.

Home schooling was a a lifestyle choice, she said.

“It’s not just like having school at home … all of life becomes an education. It’s really hard to separate our life from the education.”

Duncan does not have any teaching qualifications but she said she had “a lot of experience”.

Home schooling is most popular on the West Coast, where 1.9 per cent of children are in home schooling.

The Canterbury Home Educators group has 230 members, representing less than 1% of students in the region.

Smith said aspects of the national assessment programme (NCEA) were “anti-intellectual” and the school curriculum needed to get back to basics and cut out political correctness.

Smith did not want any more Government funding because he feared it would take control of home schoolers.

“The ERO (Education Review Office) is sitting in judgment on the way you as a parent relate to your own child,” he said.

Home Schooling Worldwide-April 2008

The following links provide information about Home Schooling worldwide from Andrea Hermitt. This includes recent statistics for Home Schooling on all continents.

Homeschooling around the World: Australia & New Zealand

http://homeschooling.families.com/blog/homeschooling-around-the-world-australia-amp-new-zealand

Homeschooling around the World: Europe

http://homeschooling.families.com/blog/homeschooling-around-the-world-europe

Homeschooling Around the World: African & Asia

http://homeschooling.families.com/blog/homeschooling-around-the-world-african-amp-asia

Homeschooling around the World: USA

http://homeschooling.families.com/blog/category/650

Homeschooling around the World: The Americas

http://homeschooling.families.com/blog/homeschooling-around-the-world-the-americas

The information on the statistics in New Zealand are incorrect. Here are the correct figures:

http://www.educationcounts.govt.nz/statistics/schooling/homeschooling2/homeschooling

At 1 July 2007 there were 6,473 homeschooled students recorded on the Ministry of Education’s homeschooling database, which represents less than one per cent of total school enrolments at July 2007. These students belonged to 3,349 families.

Number of Homeschooled Students in NZ 1998-2007

In 1966 there would have been less than 100 children being home educated in New Zealand. Infact the MoE had no idea how many were being home educated because School Principals approved the exemption not the MoE. The School Principals did not report back to the MoE on who was Home Schooling.

SONNY SCOTT: Home-schoolers threaten our cultural comfort

From:

http://www.djournal.com/pages/story.asp?ID=274594&pub=1&div=Opinion

SONNY SCOTT: Home-schoolers threaten our cultural comfort
6/8/2008 9:39:01 AM
Daily Journal

You see them at the grocery, or in a discount store.

It’s a big family by today’s standards – “just like stair steps,” as the old folks say. Freshly scrubbed boys with neatly trimmed hair and girls with braids, in clean but unfashionable clothes follow mom through the store as she fills her no-frills shopping list.

There’s no begging for gimcracks, no fretting, and no threats from mom. The older watch the younger, freeing mom to go peacefully about her task.

You are looking at some of the estimated 2 million children being home schooled in the U.S., and the number is growing. Their reputation for academic achievement has caused colleges to begin aggressively recruiting them. Savings to the taxpayers in instructional costs are conservatively estimated at $4 billion, and some place the figure as high as $9 billion. When you consider that these families pay taxes to support public schools, but demand nothing from them, it seems quite a deal for the public.

Home schooling parents are usually better educated than the norm, and are more likely to attend worship services. Their motives are many and varied. Some fear contagion from the anti-clericalism, coarse speech, suggestive behavior and hedonistic values that characterize secular schools. Others are concerned for their children’s safety. Some want their children to be challenged beyond the minimal competencies of the public schools. Concern for a theistic world view largely permeates the movement.

Indications are that home schooling is working well for the kids, and the parents are pleased with their choice, but the practice is coming under increasing suspicion, and even official attack, as in California.

Why do we hate (or at least distrust) these people so much?

Methinks American middle-class people are uncomfortable around the home schooled for the same reason the alcoholic is uneasy around the teetotaler.

Their very existence represents a rejection of our values, and an indictment of our lifestyles. Those families are willing to render unto Caesar the things that Caesar’s be, but they draw the line at their children. Those of us who have put our trust in the secular state (and effectively surrendered our children to it) recognize this act of defiance as a rejection of our values, and we reject them in return.

Just as the jealous Chaldeans schemed to bring the wrath of the king upon the Hebrew eunuchs, we are happy to sic the state’s bureaucrats on these “trouble makers.” Their implicit rejection of America’s most venerated idol, Materialism, (a.k.a. “Individualism”)

spurs us to heat the furnace and feed the lions.

Young families must make the decision: Will junior go to day care and day school, or will mom stay home and raise him? The rationalizations begin. “A family just can’t make it on one income.” (Our parents did.) “It just costs so much to raise a child nowadays.” (Yeah, if you buy brand-name clothing, pre-prepared food, join every club and activity, and spend half the cost of a house on the daughter’s wedding, it does.) And so, the decision is made. We give up the bulk of our waking hours with our children, as well as the formation of their minds, philosophies, and attitudes, to strangers. We compensate by getting a boat to take them to the river, a van to carry them to Little League, a 2,800-square-foot house, an ATV, a zero-turn Cub Cadet, and a fund to finance a brand-name college education. And most significantly, we claim “our right” to pursue a career for our own
“self-fulfillment.

Deep down, however, we know that our generation has eaten its seed corn. We lack the discipline and the vision to deny ourselves in the hope of something enduring and worthy for our posterity. We are tired from working extra jobs, and the looming depression threatens our 401k’s. Credit cards are nearly maxed, and it costs a $100 to fuel the Suburban. Now the kid is raising hell again, demanding the latest Play Station as his price for doing his school work . and there goes that modest young woman in the home-made dress with her four bright-eyed, well-behaved home-schooled children in tow. Wouldn’t you just love to wipe that serene look right off her smug face?

Is it any wonder we hate her so?

Sonny Scott a community columnist, lives on Sparta Road in Chickasaw County and his e-mail address is sonnyscott@yahoo.com.
Appeared originally in the Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal, 6/8/2008

–ends
http://www.djournal.com/pages/story.asp?ID=274594&pub=1&div=Opinion