Macron’s draft law, which will be finalized by the end of this year, is the president’s latest initiative to impose French values on religious people, notably the ideology of secular republicanism. The president hopes that this ideology will have “a presence at the foot of each tower block, each building, in places where we were retreating.
While it is being framed as a way to crack down on radicalism, notably radical Islamist “separatist” values, the law will impose a swathe of new controls on religious, cultural and sporting institutions and associations regardless of faith or creed.
If the law passes, private schools are also at risk, as they will be subjected to regular inspections of their curricula and they will be forced to teach a “common core” of subjects and topics as defined by the Ministry of National Education, the country’s highest authority on matters of education. (Related: Leftists push for homeschooling ban amid coronavirus crisis – so now they don’t want children getting ANY education?)
According to Macron, over 50,000 children in France are being homeschooled, and that number is growing every year. When classes begin again in September 2021, all of these children will be obliged to transfer to state-registered schools and learning institutions. The only exemptions that will be accepted are health-related ones.
To justify his attacks on education and religion, Macron points to one instance when French authorities found a clandestine school where Muslim children prayers from the Quran by women wearing niqabs.
The draft law builds on an existing law dating back to 1905, which enforced the separation of church and state. Not only will it affect education, but it will also put in place tighter controls over the management and the financial organization of places of worship, such as churches, synagogues and mosques, as well as “cultural institutions.”
The draft law will contain a provision that will prevent radicals who want to overthrow the government from taking control of these societies and institutions. While the president's rhetoric has made it clear that he is talking about Islamists, the law will apply to anybody the state perceives as “too radical.”
His announcement was made in the suburban town of Les Mureaux right outside of Paris, where North and sub-Saharan African Muslim migrants form a majority and where, back in 2005, ethnic riots broke out. Today, the city is considered to be a hotspot for radical Islam, and the Islamic State has organized attacks on France using agents residing in Les Mureaux.
Macron’s party, La Republique en Marche, and their allies, MoDem and Agir, hold a majority in the country’s parliament, the National Assembly, and are expected to pass the draft law following Macron’s wishes once it is presented to the legislative body.
French parents who have been homeschooling their children for decades have vowed to do everything in their power to make sure their fundamental right to be the primary educator of their children will not be taken away from them.
Gwenaelle Spenle, a member of the homeschooling rights organization Les Enfants d’Abord, has homeschooled all five of her children, who are now between the ages of 13 and 23.
Spenle believes that it is the right of children to decide how they want to be educated, which is why she did not object when one of her children wanted to be educated at the Lycee in the next school year. The Lycee is a type of government-funded secondary school.
“When I first heard the news that our right to home school was to end, I thought it was a joke,” said Spenle. “It is incomprehensible, inadmissible and takes away an essential freedom of people in this country.”
Spenle believes that the argument Macron and the French government are using, that children are more likely to be radicalized if they are homeschooled, is patently false.
Spenle said that the education her children receive is constantly monitored by the Education Ministry, thanks to regular inspections. if there was any kind of radical indoctrination going on, the ministry’s inspectors would have found evidence of it.
“There is no proof terrorists were educated at home, it is more likely they went to school,” said Spenle. “Our families defend the republican values of democracy and encourage open-mindedness.”
Since the announcement, many parents have gotten in touch with Spenle. Many of them believe that their children will suffer if they are forced to abandon homeschooling. “They just don’t know how they can send them back next year,” said Spenle, quoting the fears of the parents.
Spenle said that the association is figuring out how to fight back against Macron and the French government’s overreach. For now, she is urging parents who are homeschooling their children to contact their respective senators and member of parliament to share their grievances with the proposal to ban homeschooling.
Similar opposition is being seen from organizations that represent private schools. Lionel Devic, president of the Fondation pour l’Ecole, an association that supports “independent schools” that do not have any contracts nor receive any funding from the state, said that there is no evidence that any kind of radicalism, be it Islamic radicalism or otherwise, is coming from private schools.
Learn more about the benefits of homeschooling by reading the latest articles at HomeSchooling.news.