June 6, 2016
Mrs. Anna Zalewska
Minister of National Education
Dear Mrs. Zalewska:
Homeschooling is a rapidly growing movement globally in which parents choose to direct the education of their children. Homeschooling is a human right as recognized by the United Nations and various international treaties mentioned herein. Over the past 25 years, homeschooling has proven to be a positive educational option that produces academically successful, well-developed, socialized adults.
By way of introduction, the Home School Legal Defense Association is an international organization located in the United States with our headquarters in the Washington, DC area. Our mission is to protect the right of parents to direct the education of their children and to advance the cause of homeschooling. Presently, we have more than 85,000 member families in all 55 of the United States and its territories and in 36 countries.
The United States alone has more than two million students who are currently homeschooled. Countries such as Australia, Canada, France, South Africa, and the United Kingdom also boast significant numbers of homeschooled students, ranging from tens to hundreds of thousands. These numbers indicate not only that homeschooling is well-supported, but that it has become a large movement, ready to be defended by its supporters. National homeschool organizations similar to ours exist in many other countries, including: HSLDA of Canada, Les Enfants d’Abord in France, Pestalozzi Trust Legal Defence in South Africa, and the Home Service in the United Kingdom.
I invite you to review Joseph Murphy’s authoritative work on homeschooling. Dr. Murphy is the Associate Dean of the Peabody School of Education at Vanderbilt University. As homeschooling has increased in popularity, it has been the subject of increasing social research. Numerous studies demonstrate that homeschooled students become responsible citizens who are productive members of society. In our experience, homeschoolers are more involved in their community, civics, and higher education than students from public or private school settings.
Studies have also concluded that students schooled at home develop into well-rounded and socially integrated adults. Indeed, experience shows that homeschooled children are more mature and better socialized than their public school counterparts. Homeschooled children often interact with a range of age groups. In addition, the flexible schedule that homeschooling allows for provides more time for children to become involved in a variety of extracurricular activities. These factors, among others, cause researchers to observe that „homeschooled children’s social skills are exceptional.”
Homeschooling also produces academically successful students. Educational achievement tests document that homeschooled students attain higher scores than public school students. Homeschoolers achieve, on average, between 15 and 30 percentile points above public school averages. A number of studies reveal that this is true for all grade levels and subjects.” Research also shows there is no correlation between high test scores and government regulation.
Homeschooling is not merely a viable educational option for students. It promises the potential for success beyond that offered in a traditional school setting. As well-adjusted, academically successful students who become responsible and engaged citizens, homeschoolers are an asset to any community.
Numerous international treaties and documents exist that explicitly affirm the right to education and a parent’s right to direct the education of their child as fundamental human rights, including those below. I understand that nations have their own culture and laws. Yet as United States Federal Immigration Judge Lawrence Burman wrote in his opinion granting political asylum to a German family who fled persecution because of their desire to homeschool their children, „No country has a right to deny these basic human rights.” He refers to the right of parents to decide the best form of education for their children, which includes the right, even if regulated, to educate their own children themselves.
The Universal Declaration ofHuman Rights (1948):
Parents have a prior right to choose the kind of education that shall be given to their children (Article 26.3).
The European Convention on Human Rights (1952):
No person shall be denied the right to education. In the exercise of any functions which it assumes in relation to education and to teaching, the State shall respect the right ofparents to ensure such education and teaching in conformity with their own religious andphilosophical convictions (Protocol 1, Article 2).
The International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (1976) and International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (1976):
The States Parties to the present Covenant undertake to have respect for the liberty of parents and, when applicable, legal guardians to choose for their children schools, other than those established by the public authorities, which conform to such minimum educational standards as may be laid down or approved by the State and to ensure the religious and moral education of their children in conformity with their own convictions (Article 10.1 and 13.3).
The States Parties to the present Covenant undertake to have respect for the liberty ofparents and, when applicable, legal guardians to ensure the religious and moral education of their children in conformity with their own convictions
Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union (2000):
The freedom to found educational establishments with due respect for democratic principles and the right of parents to ensure the education and teaching of their children in conformity with their religious, philosophical and pedagogical convictions shall be respected, in accordance with the national laws governing the exercise ofsuch freedom and right (Article 14.3).
In addition, a 2006 report by United Nation’s Special Rapporteur Vernor Mufioz confirms a parent’s right to direct the education of his or her children:
[A]ccording to reports received, it is possible that, in some [German] Länder, education is understood exclusively to mean school attendance. Even though the Special Rapporteur is a strong advocate of public, free and compulsory education, it should be noted that education may not be reduced to mere school attendance and that educational processes should be strengthened to ensure that they always and primarily serve the best interests of the child. Distance learning methods and home schooling represent valid options which could be developed in certain circumstances, bearing in mind that parents have the right to choose the appropriate type of education for their children, as stipulated in article 13 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. The promotion and development of a system of public, government-funded education should not entail the suppression of forms of education that do not require attendance at a school. In this context, the Special Rapporteur received complaints about threats to withdraw the parental rights of parents who chose home-schooling methods for their children. (Emphasis added.)
I also point you to the Berlin Declaration and the Rio Principles, available online, as authoritative sources of this and more information on the right of homeschooling.
Please consider home education in light of the above information. Evidence shows that homeschooling is a benefit both to students and to communities. Please do not hesitate to contact me directly should you have any questions about the information in this letter.
Very truly yours,
Michael P. Donnelly
Director of Global Outreach
Cc: Dr. Marek Budajczak