Record: Szymon Paciorkowski, “Homeschooling in Poland? Legal Status and Arguments Used in Polish Debate over Home Education” in Social Transformations in Contemporary Society (2014): 153-162. [Abstract Here]
Summary: Since 2011, Paciorkowski has been a PhD student of Law and Administration at Adam Mickiewicz University, Poland. The purpose of the present article is summarize the current legal status and evolution of home education in Poland, especially with regards to the Polish School Education Act of 1991.
Paciorkowski begins with an overview of home education and the Polish education system. He points out that homeschooling is more common in the US than in Europe, where governmental attitudes can vary from tolerant regulations to highly restrictive provisions. In Poland, the School Education Act of 1991 allowed for home education, but parents had to request permission from the head of a school. The school at which the child was officially registered was responsible for conducting examinations to prove that the child was ready to be promoted.
In the beginning very few families were interested in home education, but over time, some groups of interested parents began to come together, as homeschooling literature entered the market from the United states. These families found that it was very difficult to obtain permission for home education from the school heads. This led to prolonged legal conflicts to try and clarify the vague 1991 provisions. In 2008, one child’s family fought a school head’s refusal to grant home education permission. The case went all the way to the Supreme Administration Court, but it still did not produce any significant changes.
In 2009 all of this legal uncertainty finally culminated in a push for change. Donald Tusk’s government proposed significant changes to Article 16 of the SAE. The proposed amendments aimed to extend the parents’ right for home education. Clarification for the process and the elimination of the discretionary nature of the school head’s decision were 2 major goals, as was a decrease in the number of examinations to which students would be subjected.
However, the amendment to remove the requirement that parents obtain special permission from a school head did not pass. Instead, the procedure of obtaining permission for homeschooling and the subsequent implementation were thoroughly restructured and clarified. Some specific criteria for parents wishing to homeschool were given, such as an opinion from a psychological and pedagogical counseling center. In the end, these 2009 amendments were met with mixed feelings by Polish homeschoolers. As usual, some felt that some aspects were too vague. Moreover, they did not remove the fundamental flaw of requiring parents to obtain special permission from a school head.
Paciorkowski (2014) concludes with the current status of home education in Poland. Despite some ongoing legal battles and the remaining flaws, the legislation for home education has evolved considerably since the original School Education Act in 1991. Many families are interested in home education, and the number will likely continue to grow.
Appraisal: There are a few minor oversights in the article. For example, after saying “the Polish School Education Act of 7th September 1991 (hereinafter referred to as: SEA)” (p. 154), Paciorkowski proceeds to refer to the act as SAE. It is also clear that the author is not a native English speaker due to various grammatical errors. Nevertheless, the article is informative. Paciorkowski (2014) does a good job of succinctly presenting homeschooling in Poland. The article provides more historical context to flesh out the Polish legal policy presented by Kostelecká [abstract/review].
Robert Lyon, Messiah College