Press Release from the Associations and Representatives of Home Education (IEF- Instruction En Famille, private schools ‘hors contract’ – not operating under a contract with the state and defenders of freedom)

Posted on 11 November 2020

Educational Freedom is not negotiable.

Stand together to defend our fundamental freedoms!

Following the presidential announcement to make schooling (rather than education) compulsory for all children from the ages of 3 to 16 years, a meeting to present the bill to strengthen the values of the Republic (initially a bill on “separatism “) was organised by the Ministry of National Education on Tuesday the 10th of November 2020. The meeting was led by Richard Senghor, special advisor to Jean-Michel Blanquer, with the participation of the DGESCO, the DAJ and the DAF.

The bill anticipatesabanonhome education (IEF – Instruction en Famille) in France except in the case of “the impossibility of the child to attend school due totheir situation or that of their family”. It also gives the administration, without the guarantee offered by the intervention of a judge, the sole power to decide on the closure of private schools (hors contract – not operating under a contract with the state).

Civil organisations and representatives expressed their deep determination and declared their absolute opposition to the provisions presented.

The purpose of this bill is illegible; it results in a disturbing violation of educational freedom, which is clearly a constitutional issue.

The government has been unable to provide statistics or evidence of a link (other than anecdotal) between the phenomenon of radicalisation and the existence of the regulated and supervised practice of home education. They could only refer to forthcoming figures (!) from a future impact study for the bill. They were unable to explain how a home education (IEF – Instruction en Famille) ban might address the existence of clandestine forms of “education” beyond state control.

Is the state only using the legal means already at its disposal to dismantle schools which put children or the community in danger? How will this law increase the effectiveness of the state in this area? No answer to these common sense questions was provided.

Other than founding an independent school (not operating under a contract with the state), it will no longer be possible to educate in any direction other than that of National Education Department. The government thus deprives parents of the fundamental freedom to choose the type of education for their children: this authoritarian drift is contrary to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (art. 26-3) and the Constitution of our country, as the ministry indicated that it would do nothing to facilitate the creation of new free schools or the extension of private schools under defined contracts.

This introductory bill also constitutes a breach of equality: not all families have the financial means to enroll their child(ren) in private schools ‘hors contract’ (not operating under a contract with the state) which would better correspond to their educational orientation; not all families benefit from equal geographic access to schools. In the interests of their child(ren), all French people must have access to the option to home educate, even occasionally as in case of: school bullying, racketeering, school phobia … The choice of home education is certainly not a form of avoidance or refusal of the Republic and its institutions. To assimilate families practicing home education legally into “enemies of the Republic or public order” constitutes an unacceptable slanderous attack.

Associations and representatives of home educators and non-contract schools will fight against this anti-freedom project, with the help of parliamentarians who are adherents of freedom of education, personal freedom and fundamental freedoms which are also attacked in this bill. They ask the Council of State and the Constitutional Council to recall with all required solemnity, the constitutional nature of the freedom to choose the type of education to be given to one’s children and to take action against the manifestly disproportionate nature of the infringements made on this freedom by the project of law.

They invite the policy making parliamentariansto vote against this bill, which is a disgrace to the French Republic.

Signatories and press contacts (in alphabetical order):

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The Law on Separatism: When the Government Lies to the Senate or to the People

Posted on 3 November 2020 by ledacom

In his speech on separatism on October the 2nd 2020, the French Head of State made a direct link between separatism and home education. Without putting forward even the beginning of a suggestion of an argument, he deduced that to fight against any form of radical drift, it was necessary to prohibit educational freedom. A surprising diagnosis to say the least when one refers to the proposals of his Minister of Education, heard on June 18th 2020 before the Senate committee on Islamist radicalisation.

https://www.facebook.com/senat.fr/videos/628118038053279/

At 58 mins, Jean-Michel Blanquer declares specifically that home education rests on “a powerful constitutional foundation which one can only acknowledge and which is, I think, positive”. An expert opinion, since J-M Blanquer has a doctorate in law. It is indeed a freedom that rests on a constitutional basis, that is, at the top of the hierarchy of norms. It is the top of a pyramid whose point is our Constitution: the peak of the famous living together of our Republic.

Paradoxically, it is also its base. How can we imagine that an ordinary law could put an end to a constitutional principle which exceeds it, without being examined by the control of the Constitutional Council.

Unless it is a law to instil fear. Or a publicity stunt.

Blanquer: “We have reached a good balance

In his speech, we feel that this great constitutional principle is as binding to Minister Blanquer as it is binding to us all, with the law coming after the principal in terms of hierarchy. Like “constitutional brakes on public policies” *, title of the thesis of a certain B. Jean-Michel (Minister of Education), who would prevent any drift by the executive … Also, he continues in his speech, admitting that his ministry “must properly apply the rules of the 2019 law. And we are at the start of this implementation”. He is talking about the law known as “For a School of Trust”, a law of mistrust which made education compulsory from the age of 3 years, while tightening the framework of home education controls. Why then, four months after these declarations, is it so urgent to legislate, yet again, when the law of 2019 is not even in fully in motion? That Blanquer, answering the question of Senator Jean-Marie Bockel, who asked him whether home education should be prohibited or further conditioned, replied: “in terms of legal principles, we have achieved a good balance”.

So, one of two things: either Blanquer lied to senators about home education and its link with Islamist radicalisation or it is Emmanuel Macron who was guilty of disseminating false news in front of the French people by stigmatising home education as a cause of separatism.

In any case, and in the face of so much contempt for the truth, the association LEDA (Les Enfants D’Abord – Children First), in a common front for the maintenance of this right based on “a powerful constitutional foundation”, has joined forces with LAIA (Libres dapprendre et dinstruire autrement – Free to Learn and Educate Otherwise), the collective l’école est la maison – School is Home, the Felicia Collective, CISE (Choisir dinstruire son enfant – Choose to Educate Your Child), UNIE (Union nationale pour linstruction et l’épanouissement – National Union for Education and Development), Libralouest, to submit a brief to the Council of State in order to stop the forced march of this anti freedom law.

Since the executive has decided to silence plurality, it is masked that we will argue our opposition to this retrograde law.

*Thesis by Jean-Michel Blanquer: “les freins constitutionnels aux politiques publiques : les politiques publiques d’éducation – the constitutional obstacles to public policies: public education policies.

 

International team : contact-international@lesenfantsdabord.org

We need your help !

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FRANCE – Proposed Abolition of Educational Freedom of Choice

On the 2nd of October 2020 the French President, Emmanuel Macron, announced his intention to end home education in France as of September 2021.

Situation

Currently French families have full authority over their children and their children’s education. This freedom of educational choice is upheld by the constitution, the Jules Ferry Law of 1882 and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948.

Current Education Regulations

There are already two frameworks in place to regulate elective home education in France

  • a yearly inspection of each child by the National Education Department and
  • a biennial meeting with the mayor of the town.

Both these measures adequately ensure that each child is in a safe environment and receiving an adequate education. If the education provided is deemed insufficient by the education authority, a second inspection is required to rectify the situation. If after a second inspection, the education provided continues to prove inadequate, there is an obligation of enrolment in public or private school.

Parental Rights

As home education is a parental right, it is not subject to authorisation. A simple declaration of intent to home educate sent to the two previously mentioned bodies, is adequate.

Emmanuel Macron wishes to end this parental right under the guise of protecting children and the state from separatist groups and islamic extremism in particular. 

Recent Changes in Law

Legislative changes in 2019 have made education compulsory in France from 3 to 16 years (instead of 6 to 16 years as it was previously).

Statistics

Compulsory education from the age of 3 years (since 2019) and current health measures relating to COVID 19, have led to a rise in home education in 2020.

Yet home educated children comprise a mere 0.4% of the school aged population.

Every person who has committed an act of terrorism in France has been the beneficiary of a state school education.

What this Means

France, the homeland of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (signed in Paris 1948) has projected the image of a democratic state, with LIBERTY being of the main national principals.  

The proposed law would end freedom of educational choice in France. Suppression of liberty has repercussions, not only for France but also impacts the wider international community.

The association Les Enfants d’Abord (LED’A – Children First) completely opposes the proposed banning of home education and asks for your support in this regard. 

How You Can Help

Write an open letter to the French Embassy in your country expressing your support for the French home educating community and declare opposition to the proposal to end educational freedom of choice in France.

or

Write an article/open letter to your local press expressing your support for the French home educating community and declare opposition to the proposal to end educational freedom of choice in France. You can also forward press releases from the LED’A website.

or

Organise a demonstration in support of the French home educating community and declare opposition to the proposal to end educational freedom of choice in France.

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An End to Home Education: Neither Macron nor Blanquer Make the Rules

Posted on 16th October, 2020
On RTL (a French radio station) the 13th of October 2020, Jean-Michel
Blanquer (Minister of National Education in France) questioned by Thomas Sotto on the establishment of a curfew in the context of the Covid 19 epidemic, declared: “Frankly, it would be premature to answer you on a measure that ‘has not been decided (…) I will not comment on something that is not done”. A modesty that he does not apply when home education is concerned.
Emmanuel Macron (President of France) decided to abolish home education from the start of the 2021 school year in his speech on separatism on the 2nd of October 2020. At minute 9 of this same interview, the Education Minister indicates that this prohibitive measure is “final”. He then peremptorily adds, “compulsory
schooling is a big step forward”.
The association LED’A (Les Enfants D’Abord – Children First), which does not share this opinion and has scientific studies to support this direction, reminds Minister Blanquer that the principle of the ‘separation of powers’ is not an option in our democracy. An incantation does not have the force of law, even when uttered by the head of state. For a law to be applicable, it first has to exist. For this to occur, it must be presented before our two Assemblies, and
the parliamentarians decide to adopt it, prior to its enactment. For now, this government executive is paying lip service and is quick to prohibit a public liberty, which has FOREVER been engraved in the marble of French law since 1882, by telling us about progress. For Minister Blanquer, it is as though the case is already closed. In the Vademecum (a text dedicated to home education, on the Eduscol website), elective home education has already been buried.

Exceptional Cases of Radicalisation
In this same Vademecum, dating from October 2020, on page 38 of Chapter 11 it states:
“Cases of children exposed to a risk of radicalisation detected during home education monitoring are exceptional”. Should we deduce that the executive has chosen to reply to the exception by suppressing the freedoms of the entire population? This would be fulfilling the objectives of the opponents of our democracy.
As a safeguard, the Senate has already answered this question in its report on Islamist radicalisation and the means to combat it. Its conclusions are clear: “Families have chosen home education without having the slightest intention of removing their child from the Republic. In my opinion, it is rather, up to the National Education Department to ensure that children at risk of radicalisation do not drop out of school. It is not about removing all freedom of choice from families”. Brushing aside this report from the Upper Chamber, Emmanuel Macron has decided to abolish family education. He is simply not qualified to do so.
The association LED’A, which appeals to the wisdom of our parliamentarians, recalls that the two chambers have not yet decided anything on the matter, as the bill is to be presented to the Council of Ministers on the 9th of December 2020. LED’A ensures the families who have made this educational choice of FREEDOM, that the association will use all the legal arsenal at their disposal to ensure that this right continues.

Les enfants d’abord, media team

Press Statement 11th October 2020

In his speech on separatism, the head of state decided to stigmatise home education by creating an insulting amalgam between a legal education choice and extremism. Unilaterally he imposes an end to the possibility of educating children outwith a school structure, as of September 2021. 

The association LED’A (Les Enfants d’Abord – Children First) which is a group of parents and children, who have made the conscious and alternative choice of taking charge of their education, sends its thanks to Emmanuel Macron. Since his statement, membership of the association has quadrupled.

None the less LED’A refutes all association with any violent movement whatsoever. The families are stunned by the violence and injustice of Emmanuel Macron’s remarks and demand a public apology from the current tenant of the Elysée.

Already in the margins of how other families are treated, parents who educate their children outwith school, now demand the same rights and benefits allocated those who frequent school. LED’A demands that the back-to-school allowance (ARS) now also be awarded to families who invest in the education of their children.

The bias of figures given (50,000 children) by Emmanuel Macron during his speech is simply the result of the lowering of the age of compulsory education from 6 to 3 years old (since 2019). At the very least this shows how inappropriate this decision is, which contradicts the natural rhythm of children to enter a system of formal learning at such a young age. LED’A calls for a return to compulsory education beginning at the age of 6 years. 

LED’A wishes to remind Emmanuel Macron that in a lawful state, liberty is the rule. In the spirit of the Republic, families practicing IEF (elective home education) are contacting their parliamentary representatives to assert their position by meeting with representative of both chambers. 18 months from the presidential and legislative elections, the families concerned by this freedom which is often a life style choice, are firmly determined to not be downtrodden.

Les Enfants D’Abord, Media Team

Press Statement 4th October 2020

To Maintain the Right to Home Educate Our Children.

A False Solution and Severe Infringement of Fundamental Freedoms for All.

The association Les Enfants d’Abord (LED’A) is opposed to the president’s project to abolish home education in France.

LED’A defends, among other things, respect for every child’s rhythm, interests and capacities. The association supports freedom of choice for every family relating to learning and wants this freedom of choice to be upheld, as is stated in the Declaration of Human Rights of 1948 and Ferry’s law of 1882.

We denounce the confusions and lies articulated by Mr Macron in his speech of Oct 2nd 2020

Mr Blanquer and Mr Macron are shooting at the wrong targets to fight radicalisation. To this day, there is no proven link between home education and radicalisation, nor are there any statistics on potentially radicalised home educated children. On the contrary, studies concerning radicalisation and state schools are eye opening: all French terrorists attended state schools, without exception.

Furthermore, the president dares to announce “the national education authority is not able to assess the children’s evolution” when home educated, when a legislative and regulatory arsenal already exists to monitor home educating families.

In conclusion we contextualise the figures released (50,000 home educated children), as they are for a large part increased by the fact that children aged 3 to 6 are now taken into account (since 2017 the age of compulsory education in France has been lowered from 6 to 3 years) and also due to the particular sanitary context (Covid 19). It is essential to remember that home educated children represent only 0.4% of all children of school attendance age, therefore we do not understand how banning home education could be a “massive advance” against radicalisation.

The association LED’A is entirely and strongly opposed to the president’s project.

Say “No!” to the abolition of home education in France!

Les Enfants D’Abord, Media Team