Home Schooling Goes Global
- Chris Klicka, Esq. Senior Counsel for HSLDA
- 2002 12 Feb
You could see it in their eyes. You could feel it throughout the room. Excitement, hope, and trepidation welled up inside each member of the audience as the speaker described a new concept of education---one that could be custom-tailored to each child and would protect children from increasing cultural dangers. He called it "home schooling."
This scene could have been a meeting in America 15 years ago. But it was August 2000, Tokyo, Japan. Over 150 parents had gathered from all over the country to hear the reasons, rights, and practical steps of home schooling.
Thirstily drinking in every word of the day-long seminar, these parents left with a new determination to make whatever sacrifice necessary to protect and educate their children. They were risking their reputations, respect of family and friends, perhaps even custody of their children.
This was not a unique experience. I have seen this scene in Japan repeated in many places where I spoke to thousands of parents in other countries near and far: South Africa, Mexico, Switzerland, and Germany and throughout the provinces of Canada. Alarmed by moral decay in their own public school systems, parents in many countries are desperate for hope, more information, and the opportunity to train their own children.
It has become increasingly apparent to me as I travel that home schooling is no longer a United States phenomena. Home schooling is gradually but steadily spreading across the world.
One catalyst for the explosion of home education internationally has been the Internet. As parents in foreign countries discover an amazing array of information about home schooling and its results, they want this opportunity for their own family. Unfortunately, they often find out it is not legal where they live. In fact, it is often very similar to the difficult legal atmosphere in our country only 15 years ago.
Eyeing the obvious freedom of United States home schoolers, they ask, "How did you do it? Tell us how you gained this freedom." A number of these parents have also asked Home School Legal Defense Association for assistance as they seek to gain this freedom in their own countries.
When I started working for HSLDA in 1985, I would have never dreamed that home schoolers in America could help home schooling get legalized in other countries. We were just trying to survive. Yet God blessed us with many victories in the courts and legislatures to bring us to this day when it is legal in all 50 states.
Although the home school movement in many countries is only a fledgling movement, it is beginning to take hold. The first step in many western and Asian countries is to make it legal.
Most important of all is our desire to share the light of Jesus Christ through the vehicle of home schooling. Home schooling enables families to teach what really matters: knowing Jesus as their Savior and obeying Him as Lord. More and more families home schooling on the foundation of the Word of God will bring blessings to the nations around the world.
Reaching Out to Help
HSLDA's legal staff has provided foreign home school leaders and home school associations with assistance in several ways. We have recommended legal and political strategies, sent home school research and materials, and corresponded/met with parliament or other government officials. We have also organized letter-writing campaigns to embassies, provided interviews for foreign press, visited and spoken in the several countries, and helped nationals establish their own legal defense associations. Sometimes this help is in the form of seed money for launching a defense association, purchasing printing equipment, or buying other needed resources. We have also provided access to research investigating home schoolers' academic success from elementary grades to college.
If you too would like to help these new pioneers, here are several options.
WHAT CAN YOU DO?
We can't do everything but we can do something. And what we can do, we ought to do to help "the least of these" who are desperate for our support.
1. Adopt a country. Learn all you can about the home school movement there by checking the HSLDA Web site at www.hslda.org. Use it as an opportunity to instruct your children and do a unit study on the country. Explore its history, culture, traditions, and geography. Develop pen-pals by writing to the foreign home school association.
2. Pray for home schoolers around the world. They are often facing the same legal struggles to exist that we once faced in this country.
3. Donate money, used books, and home school products to help fledgling home school organizations succeed and distribute to new home school families.
4. Respond to HSLDA alerts by writing or calling foreign embassies encouraging them to inform their governments that parents need to be allowed to home school and reap its benefits.
5. Offer to personally help foreign home school families locate a curriculum and other resources. E-mail the foreign home school organizations for information on how you can help.
6. Urge your support group or state organization to highlight a foreign home school association and take up a collection at your next meeting or convention.
7. Join HSLDA---your membership supports our efforts to help other countries legalize home schooling.
Chris Klicka is Senior Counsel of the Home School Legal Defense Association, as well as Director of State and International Relations. He is the author of several books, including The Right Choice. He and his wife Tracy home school their seven children.