FIGAROVOX / INTERVIEW – The choice of the executive to subject home education to prior authorization constitutes a disguised prohibition, argues in his book, Jean-Baptiste Maillard, secretary general of “Education for Freedom”.
Jean-Baptiste Maillard is Secretary General of “The education of freedom», an association for the protection of parents who have chosen to educate their children at home. It is published on September 1, Homeschooling: a fundamental freedom (ed. Artège, €18.90).
LET’S FIGURE IT OUT. – The Constitutional Council gave the green light to the law “separatism». It will now require prior authorization from the state to educate your child at home. And the grounds for taking it will be limited, despite a reservation of interpretation by the Constitutional Council. Why do you think this is a “blow to democracy”?
Jean-Baptiste MAILLARD. – Parents are their child’s first educators. As soon as we reject this principle, as the government is doing, we put our finger into a trap that is not democratic at all. I note that the countries with the most restrictions on homeschooling are China, Cuba, Saudi Arabia, and Pakistan. Conversely, countries such as Ireland have included the right to choose home education in their constitutions.
Under the cover of an ideology according to which nothing should exist outside the school institution, the executive goes against a certain number of international conventions: the International Convention on the Rights of the Child, but also the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which explains that it depends by parents to choose their children’s education.
As stated by about twenty international researchers, home education specialists, in an open letter addressed to the magazine other education, home schooling clearly shows the strength of a democracy.
The most eminent French researchers on radicalization have all responded that there are no figures for radicalization in the context of home schooling.
The other problem is the reasons mentioned by the government. During his speech in Les Mureaux on October 2, 2020, Emmanuel Macron announced his decision to limit home schooling as part of the fight against fundamentalism. However, this is not based on any basis. I spent many days interviewing the most eminent French researchers on radicalization and they all told me that there were no figures for radicalization in the context of homeschooling. This observation is also shared by a senior official at the head of the Institute of Advanced Studies of the Ministry of the Interior.
A draft opinion from the Council of State, to which Le Figarohad access, concluded that the homeschooling article was unconstitutional. The final version has been significantly modified. You wonder about this change.
Why has Bergeal’s report been modified? Who changed his conclusion? This poses a democratic question. At the moment no one has the answer. Also, two other reports of the General Directorate of School Education, which focused on the results of home-educated children, have not been made public. Why ? Many MPs have continued to ask the Minister of National Education and contrary to what Jean-Michel Blanquer claims, they are still not available. Deputies had to vote blindly on the article of the separatism bill on this subject, without being aware of these reports.
Ten years ago, only 3,000 children were homeschooled. They were 62,000 in 2020-2021
You write that homeschooling delivers results “to make National Education green with envy”. Is there any research to back up your claims?
In France, we do not have much perspective on the results of home schooling, because this phenomenon is relatively new. Ten years ago, only 5,000 children were home schooled, compared to 62,000 in 2020-2021. Moreover, there are not many studies because few researchers are interested in this topic, with a few exceptions like Philippe Bongrand, PhD in sociology at the University of Cergy-Pontoise, who has a laboratory dedicated to home schooling.
And then, National Education does not facilitate research, as evidenced by these two reports of the General Directorate of School Education, still in the drawers. However, they contain a lot of information about student success. According to the Senate, which apparently had access to these documents, common knowledge base checks are successful for 98% of home-educated children.
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It should be noted that, if the results were not there, academy inspectors could now ask parents to enroll their child in the school. To find information, we are forced to turn to the Anglo-Saxon countries, especially the United States where home schooling has been developed for a long time and concerns more children: six million have already benefited from “home schooling”. In some states, such as Alabama, the percentage has doubled since the pandemic to 12% of homeschooled children. Scientific research, more advanced than in France, shows that in the vast majority of cases these children do better than those who go to school. They attend higher education, find worthwhile jobs and are engaged citizens. We also see that many young people get their doctorates very early.
If, in your opinion, home schooling has convincing results, how can the government’s reluctance be explained?
It’s an ideological deadlock that runs counter to a global trend, as homeschooling is taking place all over the world. For example, Brazil’s National Assembly had to work in June on a bill aimed at liberalizing this education system because Brazil understood its appeal. Elsewhere, partnerships are created between homeschooling families and schools. Some countries even offer subsidies to families, such as Russia. Globally, the development of home schooling is the most important social movement of the last half century, according to an American researcher in educational sciences who works for the State Department.
Today the government is going against the tide of this development, which raises questions for a party that considers itself progressive. With the development of telework, this trend will however accelerate, it is inevitable.
Some point to the lack of student evaluations. Are the controls sufficient?
Inspection checks are only 70% complete. This is a real problem, especially since the number of homeschooled children is exploding due to the health crisis and the implementation of medical leave. It could be 100,000 at the start of the school year in September.
If the controls are insufficient, it is not because of the families, but because of the administration.
If the controls are insufficient, it is not because of the families, but because of the administration not doing its job well enough. In addition, the national union of academy inspectors said it opposed the bill aimed at banning home schooling and called for more resources. Also, one of the two reports of the General Directorate of School Education showed that only 50% of inspections in the municipality were carried out.
With the regime of authorization that frames family education demanded by Emmanuel Macron and his government, which I call a regime of prohibition in disguise, all children will have to be checked by inspectors from both municipalities in 2022-2023, and the means of are currently located. insufficient.
Which parents choose this way of learning and why do they do it?
Their main motivation is to respect the rhythm of the child who has an overloaded school rhythm. Homeschooling makes it possible to adapt to the child according to his needs, mood and interest centers. It also allows you to go much further in certain subjects. This respect for rhythm is also reflected in the lack of homework in the evenings and on weekends, which leaves more time for outdoor activities.
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Is this model applicable to all children? What about their socialization?
The child must be motivated and fulfilled. Some children, victims of bullying or suffering from school phobia, choose home schooling themselves and then it becomes an escape route. This educational model is generally not intended to last throughout schooling.
The older the children are, the less they turn to home schooling.
One in two children return to the school system a year after being homeschooled, and the older the children are, the less they turn to homeschooling: only 13% of homeschooled children are still at home. College level and 2% for high school. However, there are children who do all their schooling this way and do very well!
I would add that home educated children are just as socialized as educated children. Naomi Aldort, a world-renowned homeschooling expert, explains that globally “in terms of socialization, homeschooled children are ahead of their educated peers». Scholar Richard G. Medlin asserts that “Research shows that homeschooled students develop into well-rounded, socially integrated adults and become responsible citizens who are contributing members of society».
Educating a child at home requires, in most cases, that one of the two parents give up their professional activity. Many French people can’t afford it…
The families are mostly connected to CAF (89%) and almost half have a family quotient below 1000. Thus, contrary to popular belief, home schooling is not reserved for a wealthy elite, it is accessible to modest homes. It is the most accessible method to teach children.
However, it is true that it remains a financial sacrifice. My wife had to give up her salary to educate our child at home, we had to leave Paris to go to the provinces. And our way of life has changed radically.
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