Last Tuesday, an e-lert was sent out by HSLDA asking American homeschooling parents to call the French embassy to protest proposed French legislation. “At this point we need you to communicate with the French Embassy in Washington, D.C. In a few days we will send another email asking you to communicate directly with the parliament members.”
Forty-eight hours later, another e-lert was sent out saying, “We believe that the international outcry played a pivotal role in helping secure this victory.”
There wasn’t enough time.
Yes, the bill was withdrawn, and (thanks to detective work by Paul D.) you can read about the legislative negotiations at the website of the French National Assembly. The translation is provided by a mechanical translator. My high school French teacher forbids me from even trying.
[note: PC-users can use Ctrl+F to search for "libert fondamentale" to find the relevant passage, in French]
Mr. George Fenech – There is a fundamental freedom: that to teach in family. In France, 3 000 children are informed of this way, at least 3 000 declared children. Our amendments 127 and following do not call into question this right, not more than they do not replace, contrary to what could be known as here or there, the mode of the declaration by that of the preliminary authorization.
Assemble nationale, 2me sance du mercredi 10 janvier 2007
[note: PC-users can press Ctrl+F and search for "128" to find the relevant passages, also in French]
Mr. George Fenech – amendment 128 adds that the inspector of academy checks that the families have recourse to the teaching instruments offered by the national center of remote teaching or by an organization deprived d`enseignement remotely.
Mrs. Rapporteure – Opinion unfavourable. This amendment is satisfied, since the inspector of academy must check that the conditions under which the instruction is exempted fulfill the requirements of the code of education.
Mr. deputy Minister – For this reason, it seems to to me that this amendment could be withdrawn. Amendment 128 is withdrawn.
Mr. George Fenech – amendment 129 envisages the entry into force of the device as from the school re-entry 2007-2008.
Mrs. Rapporteure – This amendment is satisfied, since the objective of the minister, by requiring of us of all to withdraw amendments, was that the text apply to the next school re-entry.
Mr. deputy Minister – I confirm that the device will come into effect to the next re-entry.
As you can see, there is no mention of a frantic call from French ambassador in Washington, D.C. telling the French government that homeschoolers in the United States do not like what the French are doing in their own national assembly.
A chief reason for the withdrawal of the amendments seems to have been that the proposed amendments duplicated requirements already in place. The amendment’s sponsor is also quoted as saying that home education in France is a “libert fondamentale.” I hope that when he’s at home, he feels the same way about home education.
And as to the timing, I emailed an online friend who has experience with time zones, and with living in Europe.
I looked at the HSLDA e-lerts and saw that the ‘sky is falling on France’ email was datestamped 1708 hrs. Eastern time (I’m assuming) on Tues 9 Jan. This would be ca., what?, 2308 Central European time.
So, American homeschoolers to the west start calling the French embassy in D.C. after it is closed for normal business, which means the phone calls are … moot for the evening?
So the French wake up in France for their normal business day as all the Americans are going to sleep (factoring in 4 time zones for the U.S.), so that would be 0800 in central Europe, minus 6 hrs. making the start of the French day 0200 Eastern. Perhaps the evening’s phone calls from outraged Americans are passed on by the night clerk?
The Americans snooze through a good bit of the Wednesday French business day in France which ends at, say 1700. Around this time the Americans-who-heed-elerts are ramping up the phone calls to the D. C. embassy (ca. 1100 hrs.), and all the calls to the French embassy in D.C. are on hold for purposes of notifying the relevant French legislator … who has already withdrawn the amendments.
Almost exactly 48 hrs. after the ‘sky is falling’ email, HSLDA sends out the Victory email.
[rhetorical] Q: How is it even possible for there to have been time for the phone calls to have influenced a French legislator to withdraw the legislation, even if that legislator were so inclined to heed the phone calls from Americans??
It is interesting to note that the reform of the protection de l’enfance (child welfare) legislation was prompted, in part, by events at “Tabitha’s Place”, aka, the Twelve Tribes (use the magic Ctrl+F to quickly find the reference). The Twelve Tribes is a group the Germans have also investigated concerning homeschooling. A branch of the group attracted official attention in Boston as well.
Assemble nationale, 2me sance du mardi 9 janvier 2007
Un couple nous a expliqu le degr dobissance demand aux enfants dans la secte Tabithas Place …
[mechanical translation of full paragraph] A couple explained us the degree of obedience requested from the children in the sect Tabitha’ S Place: “If the child does not make what you ask him in the second and as of the first time that you ask him, a physical correction must be given to him. The correction must hurt. One also will ask the child, gradually, to receive his correction, i.e. not to cry, not to rebel, until arriving at a point where he will ask itself his correction if he has bad conscience “
That the group attracted enough attention in one country to trigger an investigation could indicate bias on the part of the investigators. Attracting attention in two countries could be a coincidence. Attracting attention in three countries is a pattern.
I feel sorry for the French families who had to simultaneously see to the education of their children, and work to gain attention about the proposed legislation. That’s a lot of stress, and I hope they are breathing a little easier now.
There’s got to be a way to help our colleagues in other countries, but I don’t know that nosy-parkering our way into their legislatures will gain us many friends.
posted by Valerie