Thursday, May 13, 2010
Sign your name and help Sweden's homeschoolers
Your mad editor has not been asleep at the wheel — she’s been working through a lot of pain and worry, and apologizes for the prolonged absence. She also apologizes for her occasional tendency to slip into the third person. Thank you for your patience.
Below is an open letter I’d like to send to Sweden’s government, and also possibly a Swedish newspaper. (Our friends in Sweden can help with translation, thank goodness.) In order for it to have as big an impact as possible, I’d like it to have as many signatures as possible.
Will you please sign it, and pass the word around?
I will send the letter to the government contacts my friend in Sweden has given me, along with the names (but not any contact information) of those good enough to offer their solidarity to the homeschoolers in Sweden.
To “sign,” please send me your name along with any titles that might help said name pack some extra wallop. If you’re an MD or a PhD, do mention it. If you have a university position, have written books, head up a group or organization, are a social worker...say it loud and proud. Name, title if any, and an acknowledgement that you agree to sign this letter. Again, any contact information remains absolutely private. My email address: deborah @ 2ds dot org
Some of the ideas this letter expresses may not seem optimal. Please bear in mind that it was written in order to speak to the concerns — fears, really — that the Swedish government has about homeschooling, and to raise awareness about homeschooling in a country that knows very little about it. Sweden’s population is about 9 million people; out of that, there are maybe 200 homeschooling families. Either the government sees them as some kind of threat, or they figure that it’s not worth worrying about the rights of so small a group. Or both. We’re trying to convince them otherwise.
America has a decent homeschooling population, and our homeschooling success story was often brought up as a case in point when England was fighting anti-homeschooling legislation. Let’s hope our reputation will work in our favor and help our homeschooling neighbors in Sweden.
Here’s the letter:
We are Americans who are shocked and saddened that Sweden is considering making homeschooling virtually illegal. How could a country that seems to us a paradise of beauty and egalitarianism refuse to let its citizens choose how their own children will be educated?
Though homeschooling is completely legal in every state in America, we homeschoolers are still a tiny minority. Only about 3% of school-aged American children are homeschooled. If you fear that homeschooling as a completely legal option means that the vast majority of children stop attending school, take it from us: this isn't the case. American parents appreciate having homeschooling as an option, but we know it's not for everyone. Freedom of choice is what makes life rich and interesting.
The homeschooling community is ethnically, religiously, economically, and philosophically diverse. Please don't draw your ideas about homeschoolers from stereotypes. Every homeschooling family is different; we all have our own reasons for wanting to educate our children independently. This serious decision is not made quickly or easily. All of us researched and considered our options before we made up our minds to homeschool. We homeschool our children for the same reason other parents decide to send their children to the school of their choice: we think this is what's best for our family. We love our children and want what's best for them -- not because we're homeschoolers, but just because we're parents.
Our children are like their schooled peers: they spend time with friends, take music and art lessons, enjoy team sports, volunteer their time for good causes, live, learn, and love. Many of them will go on to college; all of them will continue to learn, wherever their lives and careers lead them.
Homeschooling is a great deal of work. It takes commitment, time, patience, and energy. As such, it's a very personal decision to make -- almost as personal as the decision to have children in the first place. We firmly believe that the freedom to make such decisions for oneself is an integral part of being a genuinely free nation.
We the undersigned urge you to accept and support homeschooling as a legal option in Sweden.