We live in Arvika kommun (Municipality) in western Sweden. Unlike most homeschoolers, we have been more fortunate than most, though we were sometimes met with less than friendliness and sympathy in the beginning. We have, though, met with the usual suspicion and opposition that nearly all families seeking to homeschool have met with here in Sweden and it is only through fighting battles in the courts and finally being recognised as serious- and educationally-minded that we have gained acceptance.
I have to say that in the last few years our local kommun has, by and large, been very generous and kind to us. I wish to state this so that not every kommun is stereotyped negatively and so that people know that I have not created this website as a personal gripe against our local kommun. The issues are much, much wider than the local government. Whether this kindness has been shown because the kommun is genuinely friendly and sympathetic to us or whether it is because I am a professional educator and not 'just' your typical parent (I hasten to add that I believe nearly all parents are qualified to homeschool, whether they are professional educators or not) or whether it is because we don't take injustice lying down but are willing to fight and make a lot of noise, or whether we just happen to be lucky to currently have a couple of nice School Heads who run the schools in this area supervising us, I do not know. I want to give them the benefit of the doubt and credit where credit is due. And I have to say that some of the teachers from the local state schools who carry out the mandatory monitoring of school work have been wonderful. We are not at war against our local kommun at present, state schools and state school employees. We are at war against totalitarianism and anti-libertarian forces in the highest levels of government. Having said that it has to be said that some kommuns have behaved like fascists (e.g. Visby, Uppsala, Gothenburg) - not all are as democratic as ours. They vary from locality to locality. The fault lies with a bad law, social prejudice, abysmal interpretation of the existing law by the courts, ignorance and a lack of education about homeschooling.
I recognise that our local schools and kommun are merely operating within the law (however bad or vague it may be) and don't have much choice other than to do what the local and national politicians tell them. (We have had zero contact with the local politicians, by the way, and none has ever been offered). And even if they are sympathetic with us, they are not in a position to voice it. They are but cogs in the wheel, however nice cogs they may be. My gripe - and the gripe of homeschoolers in Sweden - is principally with the National Government in Stockholm, the existing and proposed new Education Law, and an alarming totalitarian mindset that has evolved over the decades because (I believe) Sweden has unwisely flirted with communism and absorbed some of its antipathy towards personal liberty.
As an interesting and slightly amusing aside, there was a local school teacher here in our kommun who was monitoring one of my children for some tests a few years ago. We got talking and she told me how as an au pair in the United States she had once helped homeschool some children. She enthusiastically shared how positive she was about her experience, how the children had thrived and how quickly they had learned in a homeschooling environment. I then asked how how it compared with her experience in the state school system. Suddenly remembering where she was and who her employer was, she went into a small panic and then started defending the state school in a stammer. I didn't press the point as I knew she felt compromised. It is sad, though, that it should be necessary for someone in her position to feel such fear in a so-called Western democracy. The last time I saw that kind of reaction was when I was in communist Hungary many years ago when it was dangerous to criticise the system to someone coming from the democratic West.
So I want to publically thank officials from the local schools and municipality who have sought to be as helpful as they could be, given the circumstances. There are many of them. I think that in at least some of them there is an unspoken sympathy for our cause which cannot be voiced, as one British state school teacher did publically recently against government schooling, because of a fear of losing their job. After all, where else can they go when there is essentially only one system?
I am now hoping - REALLY HOPING - that many more national politicians will have the guts to do what is right and stand up for the 50 or so current homeschooling families and the thousands of others who would like to homeschool if given the chance. We, after all, are supposed to be represented in parliament as voters. So who will do it? I am here if any politician of any party, local or national, wants to get in contact.
[December 2010 - None made any effort to do so by June 2010, when the new Education Bill was passed, even when I informed them of this webpage in private emails. I am hoping some will have the courage to do so now as we begin our new campaign in the spring of 2011].