This was originally posted here on June 24, 2006. The US has repeatedly refused to ratify the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, but that may change under the Obama administration, resulting in a fearful erosion of parental rights, and affecting our right to educate our children at home.
This is as disturbing a development as I have encountered in my 17 years of homeschooling. Please read this carefully and realize that it can happen to us.
Brussels Journal Editor Threatened with Prosecution over Homeschooling
By Alexandra Colen
Created 2006-06-15 00:05
Yesterday my husband Paul Belien, the editor of this website, was summoned to the police station and interrogated. He was told that the Belgian authorities are of the opinion that, as a homeschooler, he has not adequately educated his children and, hence, is neglecting his duty as a parent, which is a criminal offence. The Ministry of Education has asked the judiciary to press charges and the judiciary told the police to investigate and take down his statement.
It appears that the Belgian authorities are again considering prosecution – the second time in barely two months. This time the claim is not that my husband posted allegedly “racist” texts on this website but that he is failing his children.
My husband, a lawyer by training, and I, a former university lecturer, have homeschooled four of our five children through high school. These four have meanwhile moved on to university. Our youngest child is also being homeschooled, but she has yet to obtain her high school certificate, for which she is currently taking exams. Like her four siblings she takes these exams before the Central Examination Board (CEB), an institution run by the Ministry of Education. The Belgian Constitution, written in 1831, allows parents to homeschool. The CEB exists to enable people who have not attended or who have failed school to obtain an official high school certificate.
Since we started homeschooling in the 1990s the homeschooling movement in Belgium has been growing. The number of homeschoolers is small, comprising only 202 children in primary school and 311 children in high school. Nevertheless the figure has quadrupled in the past five years, as parents are seceding from the official schools where drugs and violence are rampant and pupils are indoctrinated with political correctness and socialism.
The fact that a growing group of children seems to be escaping from the government’s influence clearly bothers the authorities. Three years ago a new school bill was introduced. The new bill refers to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child and it obliges homeschooling parents to fill out a questionaire and sign an official “declaration of homeschooling” in which they agree to school their children “respecting the respect [sic] for the fundamental human rights and the cultural values of the child itself and of others.”
The declaration does not specify what “respecting the respect for the fundamental human rights and the cultural values of the child itself and of others” means. It states, however, that government inspectors decide about this and adds – and here is the crux of the matter – that if the parents receive two negative reports from the inspectors they will have to send their child to an official government recognized school.
My husband and I have refused to sign this statement since we are unwilling to put our signature under a document that forces us to send our children to government controlled schools if two state inspectors decide on the basis of arbitrary criteria that we are not “respecting the respect for the fundamental human rights and the cultural values of the child itself and of others.”
According to the Ministry of Education we have violated the law. The judiciary asked the police to take down my husband’s statement, but he refused to sign any document. He was informed that he might soon be taken to court.
Last month Michael Farris, the chairman of the American Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA), warned that the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child could make homeschooling illegal in the U.S., even though the US Senate has never ratified this Convention.
According to some activist judges the UN Convention is “customary international law. [...] The fact that virtually every other nation in the world has adopted it has made it part of customary international law, and it means that it should be considered part of American jurisprudence.”
Under the Convention severe limitations are placed on parents’ right to direct and train their children. Under Article 13 parents could be subject to prosecution for any attempt to prevent their children from interacting with material they deem unacceptable. Under Article 14 children are guaranteed “freedom of thought, conscience and religion” – in other words, children have a legal right to object to all religious training. And under Article 15 the child has a right to “freedom of association.”
Michael Farris pointed out that in 1995 “the United Kingdom was deemed out of compliance” with the Convention “because it allowed parents to remove their children from public school sex-education classes without consulting the child.” The HSLDA chairman said that, “by the same reasoning, parents would be denied the ability to homeschool their children unless the government first talked with their children and the government decided what was best. Moreover, parents would no longer have the right to bring up their children according to their own philosophical or religious beliefs, as the government, following the guidelines of a UN “committee of experts” would determine what religious teaching, if any, served the child’s best interest.”
Belgium, always quick to adopt and implement any measures aimed at undermining traditional morality and destroying the family, is already putting the decrees of the UN Convention into practice. Article 29 of the Convention stipulates that it is the goal of the State to direct the education of the people it governs toward the philosophy of the New World Order as “enshrined in the charter of the United Nations.” It also stipulates that each child must be prepared to be a responsible citizen by having “the spirit of understanding, peace, toleration, equity of sexes, and friendship [for] all peoples, ethnic, national and religious groups of indigenous origin.” Except probably those to which their parents belong.
Hence all homeschooling parents in Belgium are sent a form in which they are ordered to sign away their parental right to choose their children’s education, to adopt the “mimimum goals set out in the  law on compulsory education,” namely “to respect the fundamental human rights and the cultural values of the child itself and of others” (with the state unilaterally deciding what these human rights and “cultural values” are), and to send their children to state approved schools if state inspectors deem that their schooling does not comply with the aforementioned “minimum goals.”
Parents who sign away their right to educate their own children are subsequently harassed and intimidated. Three families that we know have had to allow inspectors into their homes who interrogate and intimidate their children, then write a report that they are not in compliance with the minimum requirements (viz. the cultural values clause) set out in the signed document, announce that they will return for further inspection and that the children who fail to qualify will be forcibly sent to schools that are officially recognised by the government.
Nowhere, however, do these inspectors outline what they are inspecting and what criteria they apply. After a lifetime of inspecting schools with clearly defined curricula to determine whether the latter qualify for subsidies and recognition of their certificates, they are now set loose on families with no other purpose than to find fault and remove their children from their care. The families do not want subsidies or recognition of certificates, so there are no objective criteria for them to meet. Their children are questioned randomly on a variety of topics, irrespective of their own educational goals, age or curriculum. And they cannot protest the inspectors’ arbitrary verdict as they have signed away their right as citizens to appeal to a higher educational authority or to the courts.
Parents who do not sign away their right to educate their own children are regarded as not educating their children at all, and hence are guilty of a criminal offence.
It's the UN Wot Done It, 20 June 2006
Home School Laws