After losing yet another trial for homeschooling, German parents Juergen and Rosemary Dudek are hopeful a planned global event in their country may lay a foundation for positive change. However, even as they await the ruling for a criminal conviction they have appealed to the German supreme constitutional court, the Dudeks face imminent trials for other younger children they are now homeschooling.
"I can only feel the system is utterly inhuman, cold, brutal -- run by bureaucrats who think they're only doing their job but uphold the system at all costs," Juergen explains. "Perhaps a conference will help put things in their proper perspective and convince authorities that homeschooling families should not be treated this way."
Jonas Himmelstrand is president in exile of the national homeschool association in Sweden, where more families, including Himmelstrand who has been in court for years, face government oppression. Many Swedish homeschoolers are fleeing the country. Himmelstrand hopes the conference in Germany, a leader in the European Union, will draw attention to this important human rights concern. Despite Himmelstrand's difficulties he chairs the organizing committee of the conference, hoping that the conference will highlight the struggles his country faces.
"Home education is . . . one of the most urgent human rights issues in the democratic world today. The United Nations Declaration of Human Rights makes it all very clear in Article 26.3 [that] parents have a prior right to choose the kind of education that shall be given to their children, but not all countries respect this right equally," says Himmelstrand.
Michael Donnelly, lawyer and director of international relations at the Home School Legal Defense Association, explains the purpose of this first-ever international homeschool conference, the Global Home Education Conference 2012 (GHEC 2012).
"We are reaching out to parents, politicians, policy makers, and professors to come and discuss the obstacles and opportunities facing homeschoolers around the world," Donnelly says. "We welcome all regardless of motivation or methodology. Our vision is to have an impact on global educational policy in favor of home education."
HSLDA and Patrick Henry College Founder Michael Farris will speak at the conference. "The unfortunate trend in recent decades with some UN treaties is to put the state in a position superior to parents in making decisions about their children. This should not be. A global home education conference will advance an important discussion about education and human rights," Farris states.
Donnelly is calling on American homeschoolers in particular to help support their beleaguered fellow homeschoolers.
"American homeschoolers enjoy great freedom to homeschool. By supporting the GHEC 2012 conference, we can give hope to our beleaguered friends abroad and also strengthen arguments in favor of home education everywhere," Donnelly urges. "We ought not sit by and watch other nations persecute their citizens over what should be a protected and fundamental human right. I'm asking all of our friends to get involved by supporting this conference somehow."
To raise awareness for the conference, Donnelly recorded a short video available here.
Home School Legal Defense Association is a nonprofit advocacy organization established to defend and advance the constitutional right of parents to direct the education of their children and to protect family freedoms. Visit us online at www.HSLDA.org.
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