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

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:

Read the response from Mr. Berglind, minister of public affairs for the Swedish Embassy in Washington:

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:

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

Visit Swedish embassy website:

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?”

Our previous story:

Swedish Representation in New Zealand

The Swedish Embassy in Canberra, Australia, is accredited to New Zealand. Embassy of Sweden
5 Turrana Street
ACT 2600
Ph: +61 2 6270 2700
Fax: +61 2 6270 2755
Website: [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
Office hours: Mon-Fri 09.30-12.00

Consulate of Sweden in Auckland
Level 3
13 O’Connell Street
Ph: +64 9 373 5332
Fax: +64 9 302 2535


Indian Representation in New Zealand

This family was on their way to India. In a comment on this post 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:

Mr. Kunal Roy

First Secretary (Acting High Commissioner)


Homeschooling goes boom in America

Homeschooling goes boom in America

74 percent increase in number of families teaching own children

Posted: January 05, 2009

By Chelsea Schilling
© 2009 WorldNetDaily

A homeschooling movement is sweeping the nation – with 1.5 million children now learning at home, an increase of 75 percent since 1999.

The Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics reported homeschooling has risen by 36 percent in just the last five years.

“There’s no reason to believe it would not keep going up,” NCES statistician Gail Mulligan told USA Today.

A 2007 survey asked parents why they choose to homeschool and allowed them to provide several reasons. The following are the most popular responses:

  • Concern about the school environment, including reasons such as safety, drugs or negative peer pressure – 88 percent
  • A desire to provide religious or moral instruction – 83 percent
  • A dissatisfaction with academic instruction at other schools – 73 percent
  • Nontraditional approach to children’s education – or “unschoolers” who consider typical curriculums and standardized testing as counterproductive to quality education – 65 percent
  • Other reasons, such as family time, finances, travel and distance – 32 percent
  • Child has special needs (other than physical or mental health problems) that schools cannot or will not meet – 21 percent
  • Child has a physical or mental health problem – 11 percent

(Story continues below)

Parents who report that they homeschool to provide religious or moral instruction increased from 72 percent to 83 percent from 2003 to 2007.

Above all other responses, parents cited providing religious and moral instruction as the most important factor in the decision to teach their children at home (36 percent). The second most important issue was concern about the school environment (21 percent), while the third reason was dissatisfaction with academic instruction at other schools (17 percent).

Research has shown the positive effects of homeschooling through the years. While some critics say teaching children at home may stunt their social growth, Dr. Brian D. Ray, president of National Home Education Research Institute, reveals homeschooled students fare well or better than public and private school students in terms of social, emotional and psychological development.

Additionally, homeschoolers earn higher marks than peers who attend public schools. In Academic Leadership, and online journal, Dr. Ray and Bruce K. Eagleson also cite findings from at least three nationwide studies across the United States and two nationwide studies in Canada.

“The home educated in grades K to 12 have scored, on average, at the 65th to 80th percentile on standardized academic achievement tests in the United States and Canada, compared to the public school average of the 50th percentile,” the report states.

Three studies also show that demographics, income and education level of homeschooling parents are generally irrelevant with regard to quality of education in a home setting. On average, homeschoolers in low-income families with less formal education still score higher than state-school averages.

Hardcore truants by the thousand

Hardcore truants by the thousand

By LANE NICHOLS – The Dominion Post | Saturday, 20 December 2008

Thousands of the most at-risk children are still missing from classrooms, forcing education officials to act as detectives hunting long-term truants.

Principal Youth Court Judge Andrew Becroft said the “unexploded time bombs” who were mainly male represented the hardcore youth offenders. It was unacceptable that so many had fallen out of the schooling system.

“They’re our toughest kids with a constellation of problems. As Youth Court judges, we’re terribly concerned by the lack of engagement in education of these top-end offenders.”

A year after The Dominion Post revealed a “lost tribe” of nearly 7000 children not enrolled at any school, the Education Ministry admits more than 2500 are still missing “on any given day”.

About 450 have not been to school in more than six months 148 of them in more than a year. Most are junior high school pupils.

Education Minister Anne Tolley has ordered an urgent briefing from officials and warned yesterday that parents who failed to enrol their children were jeopardising their futures and committing a serious offence.

Ministry senior manager Jim Greening said numbers had dropped significantly in the past year but the situation remained unsatisfactory. Pupils who dropped out of the school system were at risk of spiralling into trouble later in life, he said, potentially costing society millions of dollars through crime and their drain on health and social services.

“We’ve got people across the country working very hard on this issue. We want to give all these kids every chance we can.”

All the missing kids are aged under 16 so are legally required to attend class but have been absent for at least 20 days.

Mr Greening said the hardcore truants were revealed by a computer enrolment tracking system in all schools since August last year. More than 30 staff were employed nationally to find the truants.

Of the nearly 7000 cases identified last year, many of the most-difficult pupils had been hunted down and re-enrolled.

An information-sharing agreement with the Immigration Service showed thousands of others had left the country, or were on the list only because of processing errors. But many hundreds more were missing.

“Often they don’t have any address,” Mr Greening said. “[Officials] go to the place where the family was. If they’re not there, they’ll ask neighbours. It becomes a detective thing, I guess.”

The missing children often came from dysfunctional families with complex problems. Ministry officials sometimes alerted other agencies such as police and Child, Youth and Family. “The really long-term hard ones, our people might locate. But we know in three months’ time our people are going to be looking for them again because they won’t be in class.”

Judge Becroft said Youth Court judges had always suspected a group of up to 3000 pupils had fallen out of the education system, but the ministry had only now been able to quantify it.

Children’s Commissioner Cindy Kiro said non-enrolled children were being denied their right to an education.

Teachers fight to save Shakespeare

Teachers fight to save Shakespeare

By LANE NICHOLS – The Dominion Post | Saturday, 15 November 2008

Shakespeare’s plays and other great works of literature considered too difficult for some pupils will disappear from classrooms under proposed changes to the curriculum, alarmed principals say.

There are also fears that basic content in maths, history and business studies will be axed in a drive to make subjects easier, “dumbing down” schoolchildren and further undermining NCEA.

Education officials are reviewing the way secondary-school subjects are assessed in preparation for the new curriculum, to be introduced from 2010.

English teachers say some papers, such as level 3 Shakespeare, could disappear. They will discuss their concerns at a meeting in Wellington next week.

The Qualifications Authority says the world’s greatest playwright is not compulsory but stresses that the bard’s works will still be taught in most schools.

Macleans College principal Byron Bentley said reference to basic content, such as Shakespeare, appeared to have been axed under the proposals.

It meant some schools would ignore important subject material if pupils found it too hard – offering lightweight courses that deprived pupils of key knowledge.

Mr Bentley, who heads the lobby group Education Forum, said other subjects such as history had no proposed syllabus, leaving content decisions entirely to individual teachers. There was also a drive for more internal assessment at the expense of nationally administered exams. He said the changes were being bulldozed through by officials, and he called for a government moratorium.

Lower Hutt’s Sacred Heart College principal, Lisl Prendergast, feared changes that could sideline Shakespeare were already a fait accompli.

Other concerns raised include:

The study of blogs earning the same credits as literature papers

The elimination of essays in some subjects

No mention of accounting or business studies in the curriculum

“All the challenge and in-depth analysis and skills required at each level are being modified, and in my opinion, made easier,” a senior teacher said. “Is the implication that we should not dare to challenge students, or heaven forbid, ask them to engage with texts that really speak to the human condition in a superbly crafted form? Dumbing down again.”

Education Ministry curriculum group manager Mary Chamberlain said knowledge in key subjects remained important as ever, but it was no longer good enough to have pupils faithfully reproducing content.

They needed to apply their knowledge to problem-solving in the real world.

Ministry officials and national subject associations were reviewing all NCEA subject areas to ensure standards were rigorous and that pupils continued achieving well internationally, she said. Consultation was now under way.

“Schools have the professional responsibility for designing learning programmes which contain appropriate knowledge that are relevant for their particular students.

“A teacher may choose to teach students to respond critically to a Shakespearean drama, or another piece of drama depending on which is most relevant for students.”