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Romeike Family and Asylum: I Don’t Buy Into the Homeschool Persecution Excuse

April 7th, 2013 | Posted by Lana Hope in Homeschool

Just so you know, before you read this, I don’t think homeschooling should be illegal.

So there’s this family, the Romeike family, living in America under aslyum – claiming to be under the threat of religious persecution from their home country Germany who does not allow them to homeschool. And now the US government says this family may get deported – because they weren’t exactly persecuted.

While the Religious Right is busy using this as a card to blame the Obama administration (which confused me since Obama was here in 2010 when the family was first granted asylum), HSLDA – Homeschool Legal Defense Association – is using the opportunity to stir up of fears of Americans losing their right to homeschool.

Focus on the Family spokesman and Truth Project founder Dr. Del Tackett yesterday declared his support for HSLDA’s efforts to defend the Romeike family. Tackett believes that the U.S. government is siding with the restrictive homeschooling laws in Germany and that this could have serious implications for American homeschoolers.

“[The U.S. government] doesn’t believe that parents have a right to educate their children,” Tackett said. “It is more in line with the National Education Association that homeschooling shouldn’t be allowed. It believes that the government can best educate ‘America’s children.’ It doesn’t want another worldview taught in this country. It wants America’s children to have one worldview and one worldview only.”

Notice the phrase “this could have serious implications for American homeschoolers.” To me, this sounds like somone is intentionally stirring up fear, and fear is what keeps HSLDA in business, an organization who is fighting to ensure that America does not sign the UN Treathy of the Rights of a Child. Quoting HSLDA’s late director, “if children have rights, they could refuse to be home-schooled, plus it takes away parents’ rights to physically discipline their children.” No, I don’t particularly trust HSLDA. I can’t say if America will see the day that homeschooling is illegal (I see no evidence to lead me to believe this), but the significant part to me is that HSLDA and Focus on the Family has already made it clear that this is not about whether or not this family fits the requirement of an aslyum or much about this German family at all. Instead, this is about politics and implications on our rights. This is about American homeschooling first and foremost, not the Romeike family, and that’s why everyone is asked to sign the petition for the future of homeschooling, that just happens to also involve the rights of a German family. To me, that’s just a tacky way to build up more homeschool fears.

But Farris, of HSLDA, made another political comment related to homeschooling rights. This is also about “religious” rights. Again, I quote HSLDA.

The U.S. government contended that the Romeikes’ case failed to show that there was any discrimination based on religion because, among other reasons, the Romeikes did not prove that all homeschoolers were religious, and that not all Christians believed they had to homeschool.

This argument demonstrates another form of dangerous “group think” by our own government. The central problem here is that the U.S. government does not understand that religious freedom is an individual right. One need not be a part of any church or other religious group to be able to make a religious freedom claim. Specifically, one doesn’t have to follow the dictates of a church to claim religious freedom—one should be able to follow the dictates of God Himself.

The United States Supreme Court has made it very clear in the past that religious freedom is an individual right. Yet our current government does not seem to understand this.

I admit I am still a little confused. The US government already made it clear that this is not a religious issue. Germany has not said that parents cannot teach their kids religion. Religion is even taught in school in Germany. So Farris sort of agrees for a minute, and then brings this back to God. In part, I agree – that parents should be allowed to hear from God about educational choices as long as its reasonable. But simply put, by making this a religious issue, they are pounding in the religious persecution line, enforcing the poor-me sterotype that white first world Christians have it rough, and implanting fear that some day we will lose all our religious freedom, not just homeschool freedom (See Focus on the Family who is partnering with HSLDA in this, who has said that American Evangelicals are already being persecuted and will be more persecuted in my lifetime.)

Apparently the Supreme Court in Germany banned homeschooling (though exceptions are granted) because it, “counteract[s] the development of religious and philosophically motivated parallel societies.” This is what Mike Farris says about it.

This sounds elegant, perhaps, but at its core it is a frightening concept. This means that the German government wants to prohibit people who think differently from the government (on religious or philosophical grounds) from growing and developing into a force in society.

As one who grew up in Farris’ so-called Joshua Generation, I had a chuckle at what Farris says. No, evangelical fundamental homeschooling will never be a significant force at any global or even national levels, and I doubt any government feels threatened by it. But I can tell you where the force does hit. Wacko religious ideas do harm homeschool children. They harmed me, and I can almost garauntee they are harming the Romeiko children over it. I don’t agree with Germany that homeschooling should be illegal over this (But I will give it to Germany that their schools do have a high quality education), but Farris makes me laugh if he still believes somehow that conservative homeschooling is going to overtake the world. Really, how?

On the more practical note, I know the Romeike family has already stirred things up in Germany and perhaps the German government will not work with them now (I don’t know either way), but nevertheless, Germany does allow exceptions for traveling families. In my homeschool group over in Asia, we had two homeschooling families from Germany – with German passports — in our homeschool group. They simply applied for a volunteer visa overseas, and they are contributing to another culture at the same time. And they go home to visit Germany, and the government has never told them they can’t go back overseas. Just an observation.

The Romeikes also had the option of moving to another country in the EU and applying for a Green card to America like everyone else. Of course, they also had the option of applying for asylum, but they did run the risk that sooner or later, someone was going to say, “hey, you are from a very first world country with a really great education system with religious private schools as an option too. You are not persecuted for your faith.” The Romeike’s lawyer and Farris keep pointing out that the German government will remove the Romeike kids if the family returns, but that’s only if they don’t send their kids to school. Its not complicated.

Tribes from Burma and Syria – whose immediate lives are threatened – those are the lives who are endangered, and those are who should get the asylum spots.

Of course, after living over in Asia, I do have a soft spot for immigration, I admit. (Granted, that’s why I’m not in politics and instead work in humanitarian aid, lol.) And I’m not really into deporting people. They are here now. Nevertheless, I don’t think they should get an aslyum spot.

One closing thought I had after reading an article over at Homeschool Anonymous. Brittany writes that as a homeschool kid she was terrifed of public school. I can’t help but relate this to the unhealthy fears that the Romieke family is implanting in their kids by telling them that their “schools taught witchcraft based on a game.” (I had to laugh since my mother told me witchcraft stories to keep me from asking to go to sleepovers.) Perhaps these kind of ideas is the very reason Germany decided to make homescooling, for the most part, illegal. You know, I get Germany a lot more than I understand the conservative ideas I grew up hearing.

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  • http://myveganchristianlife.blogspot.com Val

    Interesting. I heard that the law against homeschooling in Germany was a left over from the Nazi regime. Is that true?

    • Lana

      I heard that too. But I’m not German to say. Regardless I do know I disagree with Germany, but it’s their country.

  • http://spiritualsoundingboard.wordpress.com Julie Anne

    Something about this case smells fishy to me, too. HSLDA definitely resorts to fear tactics. And they also presume to speak for all homeschoolers.

    • Lana

      Shoot, why did I do that? Thanks so much

      • http://spiritualsoundingboard.wordpress.com Julie Anne

        Just delete this and edit my comment and no one else needs to know :) And you can return the favor if you see typos on my blog any time! haha

        • Lana

          Thanks, but I had some pretty bad errors on this one. I drove 8 hours yesterday, then wrote all that at 2 a.m, lol. Plus I had a headache. Anyway, next time I’ll double check names. :P

  • Kevin

    Good article.

    • Lana

      You know what, I don’t need to look it up. I know exactly what it is. I just wrote it at 2am and didn’t read over it. My bad. I’ll try not to do that next time.

  • http://lifewithadane.wordpress.com Nerissa

    It is not so easy to just apply for a greencard. ;) You are right, they could have easily lived across the border in Denmark and even still worked in Germany. Homeschooling is perfectly legal here as well as in the UK. It would have been quite simple for them to move to either country as Germans. Choosing America seems to be either a political statement or a cultural want to be around other really religious folks (which wouldn’t exist in Denmark, for example).

    • Lana

      Your right. It wouldn’t have been easy, but then, neither is asylum, lol. Their youngest is a baby. There is no way they could have realistically believed they could get 18 years of asylum. Your guess is better than mine since you’ve lived in both. America has an individual freedom appeal. Part of that may be history more than reality.

  • Jennifer Howard

    In answer to the poster’s question, this isnn’t a law left over from the Third Reich, but the continuation of 18 th c. laws, just like most of ours.

    • Lana

      Thanks so much, Jennifer. That is what HSLDA is telling us though, lol

      • http://myveganchristianlife.blogspot.com Val

        Interesting Jennifer. Thanks for the info! :)

  • http://followingontoknow.blogspot.com Rose ASL

    Just saying, I think homeschooling is a right that parents should have. I also think they should have to prove they are providing a minimal standard education. And I think children should absolutely have basic human rights. So do prisoners, but they don’t get to choose which prison they inhabit. Farris is completely off his rocker there.

    Anyway, the reason I was commenting is to reply to your comment on my blog. You can email me at skcanary@yahoo.com and I will send you my thoughts. Thanks for getting in touch!

  • http://blog.debenny.de De Benny

    There was a law in the Third Reich but as was already said there were laws before, going back to 1592. Though I have a problem with terms, as the “Schulpflicht” (school duty) sounds like all have to go to school, but still rich persons and princes would not send their children to school with the masses. They had their home teachers.
    Hitler wanted control over the children’s thought, so he made them finally all visit public schools. While the Third Reich was a centralised state, we now have states again (like the USA, in the German history there are only 12 years with centralised government and without states), and schooling is state legislation, so whatever law Hitler made, the federal states are the ones today to decide on this, so the Romeikes can’t blame Germany really, but they have to blame the single 16 states one by one.
    In religious circles there is indeed some opposition to the rule to send your children to school, because they want to controll all aspects of their children’s education, and I think they are right in some point. But then again, if all children go to the same school (I wish we had a system with only one school for all like in the states, only better equipped, but we have up to three levels of schools, where children are seperated by their abilities- officially said – or by their social background – that’s what it leads to atm) there will be less chance for close circles to come up with all their own thought and culture and such, which would lead finally to society breaking up. At least this is what the USA appear to me, and your posts support my belief in this point. So the federal constitutional court of Germany is right in my eyes: You need to give all people in the country some sort of common ground, at least to make them understand one another. Then you leave them enough spare time to learn different things at home, whatever it may be. This is why I support our legislation to outlaw homeschooling.

    • Lana

      Thank you for sharing your country with us. I knew that Germany had different states, but I didn’t realize they could make their own decision in regards to homeschooling. I still do not agree with outlawing homeschooling, but I also understand why your country does what it does. This family can either play by the rules, or go somewhere else in the EU and play by their rules.

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  • http://hfamcourse.wordpress.com Pamela

    Honestly, I’m probably the only homeschooler who hasn’t read much about this family and their plight. A friend has said a few comments of concern that made sense to me. I’m just not very politically minded and I absolutely think the HSLDA is often a problem with and for the homeschooling community. Try being a homeschooler in a support group in Texas and say something like that!

    Anyway, but I did want to say something about the other issue you brought up, that homeschoolers often fear public school. I most certainly fell prey to the propaganda homeschooling moms pass around about how evil public schools are. However, when I started substituting in the schools a few years ago, I saw many positives including academically and socially. I also saw that public school children are, at least in the classroom, better behaved as well as better prepared for sharing academic pursuits. This I compared to the homeschoolers I saw at sports, 4-H, cooperative classes, etc. Many of the global accusations against school simply were not true or not true to the degree homeschool moms would have you believe.

    (*note; I understand that many homeschooling families had real issues come up in the public school. We actually did ourselves when my kids were foster children. Families with these concerns should be respected, not dismissed)

    Anyway, just saying that I most certainly believed some of what was passed around; and I no doubt passed some of those fears onto my big children. It is important to me to not do this to my “new” children.

    • Lana

      Interesting to hear your perspective. I am still fearful of public schools in someways. Right now I am grading the end of the year testing (writing portion) for an 8th grader state test. Overall, I have been extremely impressed.

  • Mikael Farris

    I am a product of both public (K-7) and homeschool (8-12) and can honestly say that my parents used to try scare tactics about how attending public high school would send me over to the devil. I remember begging my parents to let me go back to public school for my senior year so that I could finish out my education in public school. Of which they would not allow. I was never able to be apart of any sports, social clubs, etc. which kind of made me socially-awkward and a bit of a loner. I guess what I am saying is that I regret being homeschooled and wish I would have attended homeschool. It also didn’t help that no one else in the town I grew up in IL was homeschooled so I was considered an outsider when I stopped attending public school. (Also, I am no relation to Mike Farris of HSLDA).

    • Lana

      There were a LOT of homeschoolers in our town, but only one family with kids near my age at my church. So I was a huge outsider there. Since you went to school before, you knew the truth. I thought public schools were scary.

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  • CMH

    Just because it harmed you doesn’t mean it harms everyone. You’re assuming that all Christians who homeschool are brainwashing their children in a way you disagree with (I mean, after all, there’s a fine line between “teaching” your children and “brainwashing” them to think like you do). Likewise, I hope you consider that homeschooling is also very popular among people (at least in the US) who have no real declared faith whatsoever. Everyone has their reasons for doing so; regardless of the reasons WHY they choose to, perhaps we should ask ourselves, “Why is this illegal? What are they afraid I’ll teach my OWN child?” In which case, I am not able to laugh at Mike Farris’ comments at all. While I don’t homeschool my kids, I do send them to a private Catholic school for many reasons – including political, spiritual and philosophical ones. Not to mention public education in this country is a complete mess.

    • Lana

      Nope, I don’t assume all homeschool kids are brainwashed, but teaching your kids that they teach you witchcraft in school is ver misleading.

      • CMH

        Honestly I don’t know in order to validate that; it could’ve been an opinion, or it could be based somewhat in truth and it’s the word they used to describe it. Kind of like Waldorf schools here in the US – some of their curriculum struck me as almost Pagan/earth worship, which I found a bit odd. But it still brings us back to the original point that I think Farris was trying to make: that the German state thinks they know more about educating your hildren than you do, and therefore should have complete authority over what and how your children learn. Apparently this family is not the only one who thinks this way, that they feel that the state thinks parents cannot be trusted to educate their children. I’ve read that there are long wait lists for private schools over there.

        • Lana

          That’s fine. They can drive over the border and homeschool in Denmark. Their argument is about as dumb as someone saying, “I can’t live in the US because they don’t let gays marry,” when all you have to do is move to New York. I know Denmark is a different country, but nevertheless, they could live there and drive to work over the border. There is plenty of ways to get to homeschool without claiming aslyum. I know German families in Thailand. You don’t need to go on asylum visa; you can go legally like everyone else. People from cuba have to go to the US legally. Why shouldn’t homeschool families?

        • http://blog.debenny.de De Benny

          “that the German state thinks they know more about educating your hildren than you do, and therefore should have complete authority over what and how your children learn.”
          It’s not the German state but the German states, for the first thing. Yes we have states like you do and culture (including education) is state level legislation, not federal legislation.
          Plus: Nobody will hinder you teaching your children yourself. After school. So the kids come home at 12, you have lunch with them, then you can check on their homework, what they were taught and correct things is you think it’s necessary. You even coul go to see the teacher and talk about parts of the curriculum you consider wrong. You have all these abilities. You even have the chance to send them to religious education class in school. Every church can offer it’s own religious education classes, it’s a constitutional right. Religious education is the only subject that is mentioned in the constitution and mandatory for most schools. There your church will decide what is taught.
          I guess what we don’t want in German is to have a society that is so split up as in the USA. Here, everybody has to go to school and cope with all the other people ad get to know them at least a bit. Yu learn to get along with one another at least a bit, and you won’t grow up in your own bubble. I don’t know where you have your info about long waiting lists for private schools from. While this col be right you might want to consider that private schools here are in many if not most cases church run and don’t charge extra fees, so money wouldn’t play a role when applying. And we have very few private schools compared to the USA generally. So hardly any children would go to private schools. Public schools are okay in most cases, but then again: Here, the curriculum in public schools is not decided on by the parents, but by the state (except religious education, where the churches decide).
          “Apparently this family is not the only one who thinks this way, that they feel that the state thinks parents cannot be trusted to educate their children.”
          Oh, the state trusts the parents. If the state didn’t trust the parents, the children would be taken away from their parents, wouldn’t they? We had this in Nazi and GDR times. Back then the children were being used to spy on the parents by the school and state. This is completely different for today. The thing is the other way round: These parents don’t trust the state or society. They want to keep their children in a bubble, they want them to not know or hear about certain things, that’s why they want to keep them from meeting the real world. This is genuinely unsocial and harming the children’s development. Nobody would say a word if they had different opinions on certain things. Everybody has.

          • Lana

            Again, thanks for chipping in and explaining things. I do hope all the commenters here read what you wrote. You’ve helped me understand why Germany does what it does. I think one reason homeschoolers in the US have trouble understanding Germany on this issue is that our education system is so very different, not to mention that our education system has so many problems. Our school days are much longer, our schools are not equal to each other by any means, we don’t teach religion in schools, we don’t have different tracks in high school for different career goals, and we are so individualistic by nature. Additionally, we have large homeschool groups here and coops, and we can’t imagine what its like a potential homeschool family in Germany. How is a German student going to get all their language opportunities at home? I think this was one of the downsides to my homeschooling experience, but I lived in the US where speaking one language is exceptable.

  • Ardena

    HSLDA definitely has issues. As for the Romeikes, they felt convicted that within their religion homeschooling was the best option. They should have been granted asylum. Political and legal precedent implications aside, the Romeikes have a right to asylum if they felt homeschooling is part of their religion.

    • Lana Hope

      I guess I don’t feel that the Romeikes, as people not US citizins, have a right to all our rights.

      • Ardena

        So just because their German they don’t have a right to religious liberty? Just because so many little girls are enslaved to human trafficking in southeast Asia they don’t deserve the protection girls have a better chance of getting here in the US just because they are from SE Asia? look I understand you have past hurts from homeschooling, but homeschooling itself is not to blame, it’s how you parents used it. don’t be so quick to be skeptical about homeschooling because there are others who actually treat their kids right and show them Jesus not extreme fundamentals.

        • Lana Hope

          I’m not blamming homeschooling. It fine if the Romeikes want to homeschool. They can drive over the border and live in Austria, Denmark, Spain, or France. What they can’t do is come over and say that our rights are inherently their rights. Germany also doesn’t have freedom of speech like we do. Does that mean anytime someone wants to support the Nazis they get ot move here for religious persectution? if the Romeike’s want to come to America, then they need to apply for a Green card like everyone else, or they can become an immigrant in antoher country or they can drive to another country in the EU.

          I guess I’m saying this: the girls in SE Asia have it much, much, much worse. If we only have so much time and resources for aslyum, the people who should get it first is those whose lives are endangered, not those who have hte luxury of driving their car over the border.

          Its not homeschooling that got me thinking about this. Its the fact that I worked with people overseas whose lives were living hell and who had no priviledge of first class countries. One of my friends travelled from Burma to Thailand carrying a group of little children, lying dead still in a bush for days to hide from the army that was trying to hunt them down, getting sick from malaria in the rainy season, risking stepping on a landmine, swimming over a river to get to the camp, showing up with no shoes and clothes begging for a place to say. He has no passport. He enrolled in first grade at age 16. If he wants Aslyum in America, his need should come above the Romeike family. I feel strongly about this. It has nothing to do with me not liking fundamentalism. Its just that Germany can do whatever it wants, and if Germans don’t like it, they can go live in another country of the EU.

        • http://blog.debenny.de De Benny

          I do not see how this would have to do with religious liberty at all? If the Romeikes had stayed in Germany they woul have had all chances to raise their children in their own faith. School hours go onl till 12 or 1 pm, so they can get religious education in the afternoon by their parents. I guess they don’t teach their children a more christian way tod o maths. There’s even religious education class in school for those who like to attend. Religious liberty does not mean that you can do whatever you like and leave whatever you like. How about if the Romeikes (or any other family) say their faith requires them to pay no taxes? Parents certainly have the right to raise their children, and they have a lot of time for doing so, even in Germany (maybe more than in the US, where I heard school hours go well into the afternoon). But parens have no right to keep their children captive in an own little parallel world, whatever their intentions might be. A society has the right to demand certain things of their memers, like paying taxes, maybe military service and school attendance (there might be more things). If they diagree, they have all chances to change things. Germany is a democracy, you can run your own party and get elected into parliaments. We don’t have the two-party system of the US, so you realy do have a chance with founding your own party.
          But okay, every coutry is free to grant asylum to those people they like. So Scientologists and christian fundamentalists go from here to the US, and US military deserters come here…

  • Johnny

    Reading your rant I kept wondering what it was that was choosing you to hate the HSLDA and similar organizations who support and defend homeschooling. It was when you made this statement, “They harmed me, and I can almost garauntee they are harming the Romeiko children over it.” When someone blatantly calls out people or organizations like this there always appears to be some form of personal blame or disassociation to it. Now I know yours and what you have to say is as less important as what you have to say. I’m disappointed to find no real evidence to counter what HSLDA had to provide.

    • Lana Hope

      Johnny, I specifically was talking about wacko ideas, such as telling your kids that they teach witchcraft in public schools or instilling fears in kids. I was talking about particular parents of HSLDA in that context.

      This article was not about HSLDA but more so about what is up with the Romeike family. I don’t care who is representing the family, HSLDA or not HSLDA, this family is not being persecuted. I would like friendlier immigration laws so they could come here freely, but I do not think they should get a asylum spot. Asylum should go to people in danger. Instead of saying I just have an axe to grind, you should instead defend why you think this family deserves one of those spots.

  • Bill

    German Homeschool Family Raided by Police, Children Seized
    http://canadafreepress.com/index.php/article/57583

    • Lana Hope

      Germany has bad laws. So does Thailand where if a wife divorces her husband for any reason, even in case of abuse, she does not get half the assets. Instead she has to wait until he divorces her. Then she gets her half. Sadly we have to obey bad laws. Life sucks. It’s not fair. When we break the law, we face a consequence. Generally asylum refers to someone who is persecuted based on race, gender, orientation, tribe, or religion….Things that are not easy to change about yourself. Homeschool is not any of those things (and yes, there are plenty of non-religious homeschoolers).

      America needs more friendly immigration laws. It does not need to give asylum to people whose lives are not in danger….breaking a law is putting yourself in danger, not someone putting you in danger. If you are German and want to homeschool sadly you need to leave the country. Luckily there are places in the EU that allow homeschooling. Also putting your kids in school is not the end of the world. Bad divorce laws are harder to live with. Also there are many people who want to come to America just for opportunities. They are hungry. I’d argue being hungry is harder to live with than sending your kids to school in a very first world country. There are oppressive governments around the world or economic systems that are pitiful like in Cambodia. I’d argue that is harder to live with than bad homeschool laws. Yet none of these things count as asylum either.

      Bad homeschool laws suck, but bad homeschool laws are not worthy of asylum. What America does need to do is change their immigration laws. I’m for this.

  • Anonymous

    The Romeikes set themselves up for this. The children were taken from them not because of homeschooling per se but because their parents have repeatedly broken the law by keeping them out of school and because they have repeatedly refused to cooperate with the authorities. I actually think they have done more harm than good to the homeschooling movement in Germany because they have created an image of homeschoolers as being crazy fanatics.
    The whole homeschooling issue in Germany is related to the wording of the law which requires “Schulpflicht” (basically children have to attend school) and not just “Bildungspflicht” (children have to get an education). There are reasons why the law was formulated this way when it was passed – and why it hasn’t been changed. One of the reasons someone already mentioned earlier is the fact that German society and its government think it’s important for people from different backgrounds to interact and learn to get along with each other. German society is not as individualistic as American society is.
    If the Romeikes and others feel this law (i.e. the wording in the law) needs to be changed in order to allow them to homeschool, they need to go about this whole thing in a different way. They need to be able to convince people that it should be an option, they need to get educators supporting them, they could get people to sign petitions, etc. Germany is a democratic country and if enough people want certain things changed, this can be done.
    If homeschooling is soooo important to them they do have other options. They can go live in another EU country – Germany borders on 8 other EU countries and Switzerland – and still work in Germany, for example. Many people do that.
    I know a family in another country where homeschooling is also illegal that sent their kids to a normal public school until they found a loophole which now allows them to homeschool.
    The Romeikes, however, decided to knowingly break the law – repeatedly. They knew that their decisions would ultimately lead to what happened – their children being taken away from them.

    • Lana Hope

      This “mindboggles” me as we say. I can’t imagine being so convincted about homeschooling that I would let someone come and take my children over it. It’s just not worth it. Although I am not from Germany, I am sure you are right that this does not help the public’s perception of homeschooling. The reason I like homeschooling is because homeschooling gives kids away out of rote learning, which for some kids is a life saver. But when homeschooling is used to shield kids from other people, or instill fears in kids that do not exist, it becomes a weapon.

      The other reason I like homeschooling is that some public schools in America are not very good. To be sure, most are great schools, but there are also a lot of bad ones, where not much learning takes place. Until we bring up our educational standards, there will always exist a need for homeschooling. A lot of Americans have trouble understanding that many schools in Europe are doing a better job. Also, our kids just learn to speak one language in school. I would not want to send my kids to a school that did not teach them more languages, not in todays global economy. (In my home school district, Spanish is not taught until high school, and by then, there is not enough time to learn more than basic vocabulary before graduatation. Spanish and French should be must learns in North America considering both are so widly spoken in North America, but I’m okay with students studying Germany, Mandarin, or any other language instead. Languages are always good to learn.)

      • claudia

        Woops, it’s the Wunderlichs this time (in the article) and not the Romeikes.
        I’m not categorically against homeschooling. I think it can be a valid option – and in some situations it can be the best option. But I have a hard time when it becomes an ideology.
        The only people very vocal about wanting to homeschool in Germany are very conservative Christians. If they would argue on the grounds of pedagogical advantages instead of for religious reasons they would probably have a better chance.
        It’s also interesting to take a look at which countries in the world allow homeschooling without restrictions, which allow homeschooling with restrictions, which have banned homeschooling with exceptions (to which Germany belongs) and those which have absolutely banned homeschooling.
        Germany is also not the only place where the state has “intervened” in this way to make sure that children go to school. I recommend the following to sites:

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Homeschooling_international_status_and_statistics

        http://www.examiner.com/article/which-countries-have-banned-homeschooling

        • Lana Hope

          Thanks for the links. I learned a lot. Fascinating. I don’t blame Germany for not listening to the fundies. Homeschooling in the US is fun because there are so many now, but the US needs to reform their homeschool laws.

  • claudia

    Sorry, I didn’t mean to leave an anonymous post.
    My name is Claudia and I am from Germany.

  • http://joylfelix.wordpress.com Joy Felix

    Did you notice the family from Arizona who decided to go seek asylum from the US in Kiribati? Except that they didn’t know how to sail very well when they left and accidentally spent three months lost at sea
    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2389291/Gastonguay-family-abandoned-U-S-religious-reasons-sailed-Kiribati-lost-sea-3-months.html

    • Lana Hope

      I had not seen that. Craziest story, ever! They should have saved up and flown to stay the obvious.

  • Mike

    I have hardly seen my reasons for strongly opposing Germany’s law mentioned anywhere.

    The basic problem is that the gives schools absolute control over the lives of citizens. America is known for being in love with guns, but quite the opposite is true for schools. A child can be convicted of a felony for accidentally leaving a pocketknife in his/her backpack.

    http://www.11alive.com/news/article/304629/40/Henry-County-mother-questions-schools-zero-tolerance-weapons-policy

    The only method that can absolutely prevent that is homeschooling.

    Sometimes, the child is simply sent to an “alternative” school for problem children. However, those places are often dangerous, or at least substandard. In Germany, a family would have no choice but to accept the punishment. In America, the family has a choice.

    I do not find that public school attendance promotes acceptance of those who are different. Rather, those who are different often experience severe bullying. School authorities rarely are able to stop it. In Germany, one would be powerless to prevent it. But, in America, one can homeschool. It may or may not be an ideal solution permanently, but the option needs to exist.

    Ultimately, no matter how good public schools supposedly are, the option of homeschooling has to be there. I have no tolerance for any country with different laws.

    • Lana Hope

      Mike, are you from Germany? I’m curious how you know your information?

      • Mike

        I do not know whether this happens in German schools. I simply am imagining what would happen if Germany’s law were replicated in the U.S.

    • Lana Hope

      Just for the record, I have never said I agree with Germany on this issue.

    • http://blog.debenny.de De Benny

      I answered you to your exactly same comment on my blog.
      @Lana: Is there a reason why I had problems getting on your blog recently thpugh I got the RSS? Anyway, I’m glad I can get here again.

      • Lana Hope

        I had a malware problem this summer while I was out traveling. Maybe that’s why. Not sure.

  • http://allthingsareyours.wordpress.com Heather

    Interesting post.
    I’m not and never was a homeschooler, and I don’t have any particular plan to homeschool my children. That said, I think the US ruling in this case *IS* troublesome. Just because “all christians” don’t feel they need to homeschool, doesn’t mean that there is no issue of religious conscience at stake here. Religious viewpoints are not usually “group” viewpoints – when I was a teen, based on 1 Cor 11, I felt I needed to wear a headcovering for prayer – and because of the verse to “pray without ceasing,” this meant that I wore my headcovering to my public school, every day. Not everyone in my church wore a headcovering, although many anabaptists do so – but did the fact that not everyone in my church wear one mean that my conviction that I needed to wear one was not a religious conviction?
    I no longer wear a headcovering, and you probably couldn’t even pay me to do so. (I also believe in evolution and I cringe when I consider what some religious homeschoolers do to their child’s education – but I digress) Nevertheless,I think it is important to recognize that “religious reasons” are not about group membership – they are about individual convictions and personal practice. I think based on this alone, despite the overblown political saberrattling of the HSLDA, there is a good reason for this family’s religious asylum to be upheld.

    • http://blog.debenny.de De Benny

      Nobody in Germany would stop them wearing headcovers in school, for example. And nobody would stop the parents telling their children that evolution was wrong after school, which is not as long as in the USA by the way. Most kids (especially younger ones) would be home at 1 or 2 pm, so there’s the whole afternoon for the parents.
      In later classes one could have afternoon class on one day or another, but there is still one day per week held free for religious education at church or at home, so that church communities can organise their own classes on these days.
      I don’t care too much if the Romeikes stay in the states or here, but I just don’t get the point: I don’t understand what it is, the Romeikes (and homeschoolers at least here in Germany – the tradition in the USA is different and hardly compareable) want their children to save from. Life? The world can be an ugly place, even if you don’t agree what exactly makes the world so ugly, but I think it’s not a good idea to spare the children of the world as it is. And this is much better understood, when you are confronted with the world in the public space. And the public space where everybody goes in Germany is school.
      Plus: Nobody would hinder the Romeikes and other families to start their own religious private school. I’m only afraid they’d have to put evolution sex education on the curriculum as well, but they could do it the way they like…

  • Gwen

    Well written.

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