Home education: It’s a right

GHEC 2016 was a leadership conference for policy makers, researchers, movement leaders, and parents interested in home education.

Join us at the second global conference, where we will continue to engage the important questions surrounding home education and explore how this innovative and rapidly growing form of education is not only a reasonable response to pervasive difficulties in traditional methods of schooling, but a right that is foundational to our common experience in the 21st century.

The GHEC 2016 is a three-day event that brings together those with an interest in freedom of education—and home education in particular—in a stimulating environment that will gather the best cross-section of research and cultivate a commitment to parent-directed education. Home education highlights the most crucial factors in the freedom-of-education discussion. Who is responsible for education? What role do parents play in the education of their children? To what extent is the state responsible for educating children?

We invite you to join us March 9–12, 2016, as we explore our theme, “Home Education: It’s a Right.”

Home education: It’s a right

Distinguished and expert speakers will help us consider the status of freedom of education in our world today, examine the contribution of home education to this landscape, and provide context for important discussions about home education and its legal framework, academic and social research, and practical experience.

Human rights documents from international and regional bodies including the United Nations, the European Union, the African Union, and the Organization of American States have identified repeatedly that parents have a prior right to direct the education of their children. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, issued by the UN, most famously affirms: “Parents have a prior right to choose the kind of education that shall be given to their children.” Other documents, ranging from regional human rights treaties to the constitutions of individual countries, similarly enshrine this reality. The Berlin Declaration, adopted at the GHEC 2012, catalogues these documents and each reference.

The United States alone has more than two million students who are currently educated at home. Australia, Canada, France, South Africa, and the United Kingdom also boast vast numbers of home-educating families. To date, there are home education communities on every continent (less the Antarctica, for now). Home education has existed for nearly four decades in North America; more than a decade in Europe, Oceania, and parts of Eurasia; and, in recent years, is expanding in Africa, the Middle East, South America, and Southeast Asia. Observable reality plainly shows that home education is benefiting children and families in countries all around the world.

Why is home education on the rise worldwide?

Home education meets the need of families who are dissatisfied for various reasons—bullying, low academic standards, religious and philosophical convictions, among other motivations—with traditional education solutions. The one-size-fits-all reality of traditional schooling doesn’t fit everyone.

As home education has increased in popularity, it has already been the subject of increasing social research. Numerous studies demonstrate that home-educated students become responsible citizens who are productive members of society.

Studies have also concluded that students educated at home develop into well-rounded and socially integrated adults. Indeed, experience shows that home-educated children are more mature and better socialized than their public school counterparts. Home-educated children often interact with a range of age groups. In addition, the flexible schedule that home education 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 “home[-educated] children’s social skills are exceptional.”

Home education also produces academically successful students. Educational achievement tests document that home-educated students attain higher scores than public school students, 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.

As well-adjusted, academically successful students who become responsible and engaged citizens, home-educated graduates offer tangible examples that home education is not merely a viable educational option for students. This rising form of education promises the potential for success beyond that offered in a traditional school setting.

We are excited to announce that the GHEC 2016 will include an emphasis on research findings and will feature empirical research, as well as policy and theoretical papers, from veteran and emerging scholars alike.

Our goal: Awareness and change

The GHEC 2016 will provide a forum to cultivate awareness about home education and its legal framework, social and academic research, and practical experience around the world. The GHEC 2016 will also promote change, as the right of parents to direct the education of their children is challenged by governments around the world.

Home education is currently illegal in Germany and essentially banned in Sweden. In our host country of Brazil, the practice is undefined, which has led in the past to oppression of families who choose to home educate. Parents in these countries frequently face hefty fines, court battles, jail time, and the removal of their children from the home—simply for their decision to teach their children. In addition, a number of countries around the globe seek to limit severely a parent’s right to make decisions about their children’s education. These countries include Bulgaria, China, Cyprus, Greece, Macedonia, the Netherlands, Romania, and Spain. Even in countries where there is freedom to home educate, such as the United States, families must continue to fight to maintain the freedom to raise their children.

The ability to choose home education is a right. It’s a right well-documented in international law. It’s our right as parents to direct the education of our children. And it’s the right of children to receive an individualized education experience that best suits their needs and goals.

This concept cuts across cultures, methods, and beliefs. It exists regardless of motivation or methodology in home education. This conference is a gathering for those who have an interest in engaging the important questions surrounding home education.

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