Brazilian Court Convicts Homeschooling Family Despite Evidence of Success
By Matthew Cullinan Hoffman
MINAS GERAIS, BRAZIL, December 23, 2008 (LifeSiteNews.com) - Cleber and Bernadeth Nunes have been convicted by a second civil court in Brazil for homeschooling their children, despite passing government-imposed tests that teachers admitted they could not pass themselves.
The three judge panel in the court of second instance refused even to examine the test results, which give a passing grade to both of their sons for a series of highly rigorous tests on a variety of subjects, including mathematics, geography, science, history, Portuguese, English, arts, and physical education.
"We cannot even allow the examination here of the quality of education that is being given at home, because homeschooling never can be substituted for regular instruction," said Moreira Diniz, a member of the panel. The tests were ordered by a criminal judge who is trying the same case in his own court.
The civil court also refused to receive into evidence an assessment showing that the children are psychologically healthy, have a good relationship with their parents, and have friendships outside the home. Both tests were ordered by a criminal court that is also trying the Nunes’ case.
Despite national assessments showing abysmal results from the Brazilian public education system, one of the three judges claimed in his written verdict that "the quality of our education is undeniable. If we compare ourselves, for example, average Brazilian citizens with average North American citizens, the conclusion is devastating. North Americans know little…in comparison to Brazilians. Our schooling is, to the contrary, very good in comparison to other countries."
Joao Senna dos Reis, an opinion columnist with the Diario do Aco newspaper, mocked the statement, noting that "a simple official verification that 70% of Brazilians don’t know how to read and interpret five lines of banal text represents a shocking confession of how our education system is going."
"At some point the magistrates had to act in bad conscience before invoking absurdities like selling the false image that we have an education system at the level of First World countries," he added. "As we are in December and every kind of list of notable events begins to appear, it won’t be a surprise if this court is listed in the category of the best joke of the year."
Cleber Nunes told LifeSiteNews that he intends to appeal the case to the Superior Tribunal of Justice, a federal appeals court, and if necessary he will appeal the case to the Supreme Federal Tribunal, the nation’s highest court.
"I don’t think the court even wanted to examine the case, just because they don’t want more families to do the same (homeschool their children)," Nunes told LifeSiteNews.
"It was clear that the kids are doing well, that there is no intellectual abandonment, but they keep defending their position, defending the law and forgetting that the focus of the law is the children," he said.
Cleber Nunes (he speaks English) can be contacted at: [email protected]
To contact the Brazilian Embassy:
Embassy of Brazil in the USA
3006 Massachusetts Avenue, NW
Phone: (202) 238-2700
Fax: (202) 238-2827
Email: [email protected]
Embassy of Brazil in Canada
450 Wilbrod Street
Ottawa, Ontario, K1N 6M8
Phone: (613) 237-1090 or (613) 755-5160
Fax: (613) 237-6144
E-mail: [email protected]
Embassies of Brazil to other Nations: http://www.embassyworld.com/embassy/Brazil/Brazil1.html
Previous LifeSiteNews Coverage:
Brazilian Homeschoolers Score Surprise Victory in Showdown Against Government
Brazilian Homeschool Couple May be Jailed if Their Children Fail Harsh Government Tests
Homeschooling Showdown in Brazil: Children to be Tested by Court in Battle Over Educational Rights of Parents
Brazilian Government Prosecutes Homeschooling Family, Threatens to Remove Children