April 20, 2014

Where home schooling is illegal

Where home schooling is illegal

By Michael Steininger
BBC World Service, Europe Today

Earlier this year a German family was granted political asylum in the United States because in their own country they weren’t allowed to home school their children.

Yet others in Germany are not letting the law dissuade them from choosing their preferred method of education.

Schoolbooks and pencils at a Berlin school

Up to 1,000 German families are thought to be home schooling

Jonathan and Irene Erz are busy people.

They have got 200 calves and eight children to raise on their small farm outside the town of Ulm, in Germany’s southern state of Baden-Wuerttemberg.

On top of that they have decided to wage a battle against the law that prevents them from educating their children at home.

Children in Germany are required to attend a registered school.

Exceptions are extremely rare and will be made in cases of ill health, but never on religious grounds or to allow for alternative methods of learning.

Parents can run their own schools, but these must be licensed and will be controlled by the state.

Those who defy the law face sanctions ranging from moderate fees to losing custody of their children.

‘Individualised curriculum’

Irene Erz was born and raised in Canada, and home-schooling has always been part of the educational landscape for her.

When she was looking for a good bi-lingual secondary school in the region for her eldest, 11-year-old twins Solomon and Kesia, she couldn’t find one that satisfied her.

School is the place for a peaceful dialogue between different opinions, values, religions and ideologies
Juergen Zoellner, Berlin’s education minister

“We feel that we can offer our children the best upbringing through home-educating them,” Irene Erz says.

“We can offer an individualised curriculum allowing them to learn according to their needs and interests.”

Her husband Jonathan asked the local authorities to release his children from school duty and was turned down. Now he expects to be fined.

“This will end in court,” he says, “we are not sending them to school, that’s for sure. If the kids later decide they want to go to school, that’s fine, but I am not sending them”.

Social tolerance

The German authorities usually justify their tough stance by referring to the social aspect of school education.

We think it’s time now in Germany to fight for this freedom
Jonathan Erz

“In our increasingly multicultural society school is the place for a peaceful dialogue between different opinions, values, religions and ideologies,” said Berlin’s education minister, Juergen Zoellner.

“It is a training ground for social tolerance. Therefore home-schooling is not an option for Germany.”

Germany is not entirely alone in its refusal.

The Swedish parliament is just in the process of tightening the laws on home-schooling, effectively banning it.

Bertil Östberg, State Secretary for Education, told the BBC’s Europe Today programme, that “children have the right to be taught by professional teachers, and the teaching should be objective and based on science”.

Echoing German concerns Mr Östberg added that “schools should be a meeting place where tolerance and social values are communicated”.

‘Battle to the end’

Jonathan and Irene Erz know that they have a long battle on their hands.

Home-schoolers don’t have a strong lobby in Germany.

Unofficial estimates put the number of home-schooling families in the country between 600 and 1,000.

Several of them have left for Austria, Switzerland or France, some have even gone to the US, although it is difficult for them to get residence permits.

For Jonathan Erz though, leaving is not an option.

“I am German,” he says, “this is my country. I decided to fight this battle to the end. We think it’s time now in Germany to fight for this freedom”.

This link can be found at :

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/education/8576769.stm

Vellacott opposes 1938 German law that chased persecuted home-schoolers to Canada

Following is a press release from a Canadian MP.

Vellacott opposes

1938 German law that chased

persecuted home-schoolers

to Canada

Maurice Vellacott, MP
Saskatoon-Wanuskewin

Vellacott opposes 1938 German law that chased persecuted home-schoolers to Canada

For Immediate Release
March 22, 2010

OTTAWA – A German home-schooling family is seeking asylum in Canada, and they are appearing before the Immigration and Refugee board in Alberta Tuesday to make their case to remain here.

Another German home-schooling family, seeking refuge in the United States, was recently granted permission to remain there. The law that these home-schoolers are being persecuted under is a 1938 piece of Nazi legislation. The law about compulsory school attendance from 1938
(Reichsschulpflichtgesetz) was the first general regulation in the German Reich without exceptions and with criminal consequences in case of contraventions (Habermalz, 2001: 218).

“Canada has a strong legacy of parental rights and home schooling has been an accepted expression of these rights in Canada,” notes Conservative MP Maurice Vellacott (Saskatoon-Wanuskewin). The family has already been in Canada for a little while and the mother is reported as saying that her two sons are thriving in Alberta: “For us, it’s a gift, a real gift to be able to home-school our children.”

Parents have different reasons for choosing the home-schooling option. For these parents, the primary reasons were freedom of conscience and concerns about the medical well-being of their children, reports their lawyer, Jean Munn.

“I commend these valiant parents for the commitment and devotion they have to the best interests of their children,” said Vellacott.

“I hope the Immigration and Refugee Board in Albert gives a favourable hearing to this case,” he added.

(See more information about home-schooling in Germany here:
http://www.hslda.org/hs/international/Germany/201001260.asp)

For further comment, call (613) 992-1966 or (613) 297-2249

Time Magazine covers the Romeike story: How German Homeschoolers Won Asylum in the U.S.

How German Homeschoolers Won Asylum in the U.S.

By Tristana Moore / Berlin Monday, Feb. 01, 2010

Uwe Romeike and his wife Hannelore work with their children at home in Morristown, Tenn.

Wade Payne / AP

Uwe and Hannelore Romeike are not like other asylum seekers, people fleeing war or torture in places like Afghanistan, Iraq or Somalia. They’re music teachers from a village in southern Germany. And yet, in what appears to be the first case of its kind, the couple and their five children were granted asylum in the U.S. last week by an immigration judge who ruled that they had a “well-founded fear of persecution” in their home country for engaging in what has become a popular albeit somewhat controversial American practice — homeschooling their children.

The Romeikes, who are Evangelical Christians, took their three eldest children out of school in the town of Bissingen in 2006 because they were concerned about the impact the government-approved curriculum and the public-school environment would have on their social development. “Over the past 10 to 20 years, the curriculum in public schools in Germany has been more and more against Christian values, and my eldest children were having problems with violence, bullying and peer pressure. It’s important for parents to have the freedom to choose the way their children can be taught,” Uwe Romeike said in a statement provided by the couple’s attorney, Michael Donnelly of the Virginia-based Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA).

But here’s the problem: in Germany it’s compulsory for children to attend school, and the Romeikes soon found themselves on the wrong side of the law. Local authorities slapped the couple with a $10,000 fine, and police even took their children to school when the Romeikes refused to send them. Fearing that they could lose custody of their kids or even be put in jail, the Romeikes fled to the U.S. in 2008, looking for a community where they could educate their kids as they saw fit.

That’s exactly what they found in Morristown, Tenn., a town of about 27,000 deep in the Bible Belt. Donnelly says the Romeikes flourished in the environment, becoming “very disciplined” teachers tackling subjects like math, history and social science with the help of textbooks and other teaching materials, all in accordance with state law. The couple also joined a local group that organizes activities and field trips for homeschooled children in the area. Once they were settled in their new community, they applied for asylum in the U.S., claiming they’d be persecuted if they were sent back to Germany…

Read the rest of the article here:

http://www.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,1958059,00.html

Homeschooling Family Granted Political Asylum

From:  THE CONTINUING COLLAPSE January, Anno Domini 2010

Homeschooling Family Granted Political Asylum

Immigration Judge Says Germany Violating Basic Human Rights

A federal judge in Tennessee today granted political asylum to the Romeikes, a German Christian homeschooling family from Bissinggen, Germany, who fled persecution in August 2008 seeking political asylum in the United States.

As many of you may know, the German government has been aggressively persecuting Christian homeschoolers using Nazi-era laws. Moreover, the German government has used its power in  the EU to create a legal and administrative environment that has become increasingly hostile to homeschooling throughout Europe.

In his decision Judge Burman recognized that homeschooling is a fundamental human right:

“We can’t expect every country to follow our constitution,” said Judge Burman. “The world might be a better place if it did. However, the rights being violated here are basic human rights that no country has a right to violate.”

Burman added, “Homeschoolers are a particular social group that the German government is trying to suppress. This family has a well-founded fear of persecution…therefore, they are eligible for asylum…and the court will grant asylum.”

In addition to its repercussions in Germany and across Europe, Judge Burman’s decision is a blow against the elements of the educational establishment and the political left in the United States that would like to eliminate homeschooling or regulate independent homeschooling out of existence.

As a final word, The Continuing Collapse would like to point out that cases like these are not won in a vacuum. Judge Burman was obviously influenced by the now widespread perception that homeschooling is a legitimate educational alternative. That perception has been created over the years by homeschool parents, by the selfless work of homeschool leaders at the state and local level, by those who have promoted homeschooling throuugh the media (magazines, radio talk show, television, internet, etc.), and by our national organizations such as NHERI. In this particular case, HSLDA was the tip of the spear, and we should all give thanks for the tremendous job it has done in this case. The ultimate glory and thanks, of course, are due to God.

For more details see:

http://www.hslda.org/hs/international/Germany/201001260.asp

Judge Fines Homeschoolers, No Jail Sentence

http://www.hslda.org/hs/international/Germany/200911250.asp

Germany

November 25, 2009

Judge Fines Homeschoolers, No Jail Sentence

Jurgen and Rosemarie Dudek of Archfeld, Germany, were found guilty under the German State of Hessen’s criminal law that requires that all children go to school. Even as Judge Drier recognized that the family was doing a fine job in educating their children, he still imposed a fine of 120 euros on them.

“We recognize in our German basic law about philosophical and religious conviction and that parents have rights, but the basic law also includes that it is the state’s role to educate all children,” said Drier.

In 2008 the couple had been sentenced to 90 days in jail each. Their trial was completed today after being continued from last week.

As the family left the courtroom they were swarmed by German reporters and media, who have been following this case very closely. Mr. Dudek told the reporters that they had a duty to keep covering this issue for the sake of the country and for what is right.

“It is time for Germany to look beyond the rim of their bowl—to look beyond its borders to see how other countries handle this issue of homeschooling,” said Mr. Dudek.

He chastised the media for not having done more to bring attention to this issue, and that the result has been a heavy burden for his family.

“This whole situation with us as a family wouldn’t have come so far, with all this burden and pressure and sentences, if you had taken up this issue before and looked at this before,” Mr. Dudek said. “Now it is up to you to keep up the interest and reporting on this issue. Germany’s treatment of parents like us is wrong, and it is up to you to help people see this.”

Mr. Dudek felt that their family had received a fair trial, but surmised the judge did not feel like he could do any less than find them guilty and impose a fine.

“God has heard our prayers and our requests for justice,” he said. “The difference between this trial and the last is night and day. We feel that we had a fair trial, and that the judge was very careful to be fair. We disagree with the result, and we are thinking about appealing.”

The pressure on the family has been high, Mr Dudek said, but he is grateful for the international support he has received.

“There has been some much pressure on our family through this with all of the attention and the threat of jail,” he explained. “We know that what we are doing is right, and it is frustrating to have this same result that all homeschoolers in Germany get. The support of HSLDA and homeschoolers in America and other countries has really helped to carry us through.”

Michael Donnelly, staff attorney for HSLDA, who has been working in support of German homeschoolers and in close contact with the family, was relieved that they were not sent to jail. However, the family is still subject to future prosecution and potentially higher fines if they continue to homeschool.

“No family should go to jail or be fined for homeschooling,” Donnelly said. “German public policy makers need to make changes to their laws to stop this kind of persecution of homeschoolers.”

Donnelly was encouraged by the media’s response to the case.

“The ray of sunshine here is the response by the German media. Never before has a homeschooling case captured this much positive attention in the German media. To me, this means that things are changing. As the media reports on this there is a chance of public opinion and laws. But it will take time.”

Donnelly asked that homeschoolers continue their support of these brave families.

“We need to keep supporting these families who are fighting for a basic right that many of us take for granted. Juergen Dudek is a hero to me. His simple faith and trust in God’s providence and his courage to stand for what he knows is right inspires me. But like all of us, he needs encouragement. I hope we will all continue to keep him and his family in our prayers and continue to send notes of encouragement and support.”

You can send letters of support and encouragement to the family at:

Family Dudek
Friederichestr No. 6
37293 Archfeld, Germany

For more information about the plight of German homeschoolers visit HSLDA’s Germany homepage.