The pressure comes from:
- The public debate about Muslims
In the public debate questions are raised from many groups asking if the Muslim immigrants in Denmark should be permitted to isolate themselves in their own schools in which the education is based on the Islamic faith.
Free schools are free in spirit, and may choose any form of ideology as basis for their school. Though, the debate challenges the fundamental understanding of parents' right regarding their children.
- The political direction in the schools
Recent years, Denmark has been influenced by a widespread tendency of chasing measurable results.
The OECD PISA tests are used in the ordinary primary schools, and the results are used as a gauge of the quality and efficiency of the Danish school system. The Danish results regarding PISA-tests have been average, causing serious criticism of the school system.
What seems to be forgotten is the fact that the Danish school system is built on values that cannot be measured. Values as courage, the ability of working together, respect for diversity, responsibility, emancipation, creativeness and innovation are challenged by tests and measurable teaching.
- A reduction of the state subsidy
Over the last four years the state subsidy to the free schools have been reduced by 1% per year. The reduction has caused some free school to close because they could not compensate for the missing income.
Reduction of grants is still a great challenge for many free schools, especially schools with a small number of students. The variety of free schools in Denmark is in fact threatened on behalf of this particular economical reduction.
- A discussion about who the free schools are for
An on-going discussion has led to a rise of a myth stating that the free schools are only for the rich families, resulting in Danish politicians arguing for regulations in the law.
However, it should be stressed that research has proved that the social economy of the families participating the free schools is adequate in both free schools and municipal schools. Free schools actually often set up a very good frame for those children that need especially strong relationships and smaller institutions. Therefore the free schools attract all kinds of families.