Thursday, December 28, 2006

Homeschooling Trials Continue

The situation for German homeschoolers has worsened as high court rulings have sided with State over parents. From a newletter sent to me by a friend:

We have sent out information periodically on Germany. The situation, unfortunately, is not getting any better, and they need your prayers and support.

Most recently, a decision was handed down by the European Court of Human Rights, in the Konrad case. This involved a homeschool family in Germany that Schulunterricht zu Hause, the homeschool legal defense organization, had handled. The decision came out in October and confirmed the ruling against the Konrads by the German courts.

Essentially, the Human Rights Court completely turned the European Union's Constitution's Article 14, the section on parent's rights to control the education of their children, completely upside down. The Court ignored the parent's rights to homeschool their children, and instead focused on the children's rights and their need to get a state education. Therefore, Germany is
free to continue to go forward with their draconian laws outlawing homeschooling.

The decision applies to all the countries in the whole European Union. However, it is unlikely that other nations will follow suit since homeschooling is legal in one form or another in the other European countries. Nevertheless, if a country ever has a change in government and seek to outlaw homeschooling, the Konrad decision would give them the right to do so.

Meanwhile, the German homeschoolers continue to be unmercifully persecuted. In our last report, we explained that there were approximately 40 families in court at one stage or the other. Families are fleeing regularly to other foreign countries in order to continue homeschooling while the father stays behind to work. Ronald Richert, the attorney who handled the Konrad case, said "judicially speaking, there is not a real chance of changing this in the near
future. We're talking about a thousand children that are being taught at home. The striking thing is, is that the state is after homeschoolers with all its power. What I find stunning about that, is that the state does not care much about the hundred thousand students who do not go to school at all, where the parents do not even care about their children."

A homeschool mom, Olga Block, was recently interviewed by CBN, and two days after the interview, she was sent to jail.

The Romenikes in Baden-Wurttemberg had police come by at 7:30 in the morning and forcibly take the crying children into a police car and drive them to school. They continued taking the children to school until the family moved from the area.

The Herrmanns, a homeschool family with twins, were forced to have their children 1attend public school even though one of the children was very sick. Their medical doctor even provided evidence why the child needed to be at home. Nonetheless, they are now faced with the threat of losing the custody of their children, so they have fled outside of Germany and are in the underground.

At this point, the best hope for German homeschoolers is to work to have one of the states change their laws to legalize homeschooling. This would create a haven in Germany for homeschoolers to come to and hopefully be exported to happening in the other states.

In the meantime, legal fees are still high, and some families are facing fines to the amount of 15,000 euros, which is equal to some of these families' whole year income.

If you want to support the German homeschoolers financially, you can give a tax-deductible donation to the Homeschool Foundation at . Simply designate the donation toward homeschooling in Germany.

From: Home School Legal Defense Association

I do know a homeschooler from Germany who fled to the U.S. to continue to educate her child. Some of the problems with the school system that she faced were hair raising. She and her husband are so committed to homeschooling that they are willing to endure the long separations while he continues to work in Germany and she and their child live here. They see each other on vacations. (Fortunately, he does get long vacations.)

In fact, I know many families that homeschool here in our area. They are fine families and exert tremendous efforts to educate and raise their children. Most such families are very close. When I think of such dedicated parents having to hide, being persecuted for their commitment, it makes me sick---especially in situations as in Germany in which the German government is seemingly unconcerned about the much larger group of children who are simply not in school and are not being trained by their parents. Something more is afoot than a concern over the education of these poor homeschool families.

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At 12/28/2006 9:25 AM, Blogger Robin said...

This just doesn't make sense to me....and if accurate, it's grievous :/.

At 12/28/2006 9:47 PM, Blogger Anna Venger said...

I'm pretty sure it's accurate. I'm familiar with HSLDA and trust them as a source. I also have had communication firsthand with a German homeschooler.

At 12/28/2006 11:25 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It looks pretty accurate. Have you read the actual Konrad decision? I have a summary and link to it on my blog. It is kind of disturbing, especially the way they turn the parent's right to direct the education upside down. Germany mainly fears the development of "parallel societies," something born from their Nazi past. There is such a fear of some of these groups, that they impose sanctions that seem rather Nazi like to us.

In response to the Romeike case, a German homeschool advocacy group wrote a letter to the officials involved, and got a rather aggressive response. I posted a translation over at HSB.

At 12/29/2006 5:53 PM, Blogger Anna Venger said...

I think it was a Nazi move to outlaw homeschooling to begin with. If memory serves, in 1938, Adolf Hitler outlawed homeschooling in Germany, and it has remained illegal ever since. Their actions today seem unduly harsh to me also. Thanks for the link.


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