26 January 2010

German Homeschooling Family Granted Political Asylum in the United States

Great news from HSLDA-- a German family who suffered persecution in their home country for the heinous crime of homeschooling their children were granted political asylum in the United States. This is a huge win for homeschoolers around the world, in that as long as the U.S. upholds this fundamental parental right, there will be a safe haven for those who cannot exercise this right in their homeland.

This is great news in its own right, of course. But what really floors me is that the Immigration Court actually upheld an immigrant's rights for once. (Rim-shot!) Seriously-- the deck is heavily stacked against any immigrant in the removal context, and especially for those seeking asylum from an "allied" country, or from a Western democracy generally.

Again I say, if you homeschool and do not belong to HSLDA, you are crazy. For a small annual fee, all of the legal advice and representation granted are free. In this case, consider this fee around 5-10K, plus the threat of removal from the U.S., possible jail time and/or fines in Germany, and maybe losing your children.

From the full story:

Immigration Judge Says Germany Violating Basic Human Rights

In a case with international ramifications, Immigration Judge Lawrence O.
Burman granted the political asylum application of a German homeschooling family. The Romeikes are Christians from Bissinggen, Germany, who fled persecution in August 2008 to seek political asylum in the United States. The request was granted January 26 after a hearing was held in Memphis, Tennessee, on January 21.

“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 his ruling,
Burman said that the scariest thing about this case was the motivation of the government. He noted it appeared that rather than being concerned about the welfare of the children, the government was trying to stamp out parallel societies—something the judge called “odd” and just plain “silly.” In his order the judge expressed concern that while Germany is a democratic country and is an ally, he noted that this particular policy of persecuting homeschoolers is “repellent to everything we believe as Americans.”

‘Embarrassing for Germany’


“This decision finally recognizes that German
homeschoolers are a specific social group that is being persecuted by a Western democracy,” said Mike Donnelly, staff attorney and director of international relations for Home School Legal Defense Associaton. “It is embarrassing for Germany, since a Western nation should uphold basic human rights, which include allowing parents to raise and educate their own children. This judge understood the case perfectly, and he called Germany out. We hope this decision will cause Germany to stop persecuting homeschoolers,” he added.

The persecution of
homeschoolers in Germany has been intensifying over the past several years. They are regularly fined thousands of dollars, threatened with imprisonment, or have the custody of their children taken away simply because they choose to home educate.

The
Romeikes expressed relief when they heard the decision.

“We are so grateful to the judge for his ruling,” said
Uwe Romeike. “We know many people, especially other German homeschoolers, have been praying for us. Their prayers and ours have been answered. We greatly appreciate the freedom to homeschool we now have in America and will be building our new life here,” he added.

Donnelly testified at the hearing on January 21, telling the immigration Judge that homeschoolers are persecuted all over Germany.

‘Ignoring the Truth’


“There is no safety for
homeschoolers in Germany,” Donnelly said. “The two highest courts in Germany have ruled that it is acceptable for the German government to ‘stamp out’ homeschoolers as some kind of ‘parallel society.’ The reasoning is flawed. The fact is that homeschoolers are not a parallel society. Valid research shows that homeschoolers excel academically and socially. German courts are simply ignoring the truth that exists all over the world where homeschooling is practiced. They need to look beyond their own borders.”

In 2003 the highest administrative court in Germany, which interprets its federal Constitution, ruled in the Konrad case that it was
permissable for parents who have jobs that require them to travel—such as circus performers and musicians—to homeschool, but homeschooling was prohibited for parents who wanted to for reasons of conscience. The highest criminal court said in the Paul-Plett case in 2006 that the government was allowed to take custody of children whose parents want to homeschool for reasons of conscience.

Donnelly challenged the reasoning of the German courts.

“It is ridiculous for German courts to say that homeschooling is allowed if you have practical reasons but disallowed if you have conscientious reasons,”
Donnelly said. “This is simply about the German state trying to coerce ideological uniformity in a way that is frighteningly reminiscent of past history. Homeschooling is a growing social movement all over the world, and the Germans want to stamp it out based on a fabricated notion that homeschoolers are a ‘parallel society.’ Germany’s treatment of homeschooling families is worthy of condemnation from the international community. I am proud that a United States immigration judge recognized the truth of what is happening in Germany and has rendered this favorable decision for the Romeike family.”

German
homeschoolers have been organizing and trying to draw the attention of German politicians. It has been difficult. Juergen Dudek is a homeschooling father who had been sentenced to 90 days in jail for homeschooling, but whose sentence was reduced to a $300 fine. He noted that officials in Germany have no appreciation for homeschoolers who think differently than the state.

‘Send a Loud Message’

“It is incredible to me that these officials give absolutely no weight to our faith or other conscientious objection to attendance at the public schools,” said
Dudek. “We have had a number of families who are not homeschoolers, but who know that the German school system is failing, who called us to encourage us. In our re-hearing the judge issued a decision reducing our sentence from jail to a fine but was totally dismissive of our reasons for wanting to homeschool. We have always been encouraged by the support of American homeschoolers, and we hope that this decision will send a loud message to the German people that what our country is doing is wrong.”

A board member of the
Netzwerk Bildungsfreiheit, an organization working for freedom for homeschoolers, said that the ruling would be helpful to homeschoolers in Germany.

“This decision reveals to the rest of the world that the German state acts outside the mainstream of Western democracies. Germany is in the company of countries like China, North Korea and others where fundamental human rights are not respected. Germany’s behavior exposes the totalitarian character of the German school law that takes away a parent’s right to educate their children. A decision on behalf of the
Romeikes puts blame on the German government and is a serious warning to Germans officials to change their policies and further accept the rights of the parents. We hope that the decision will send a clear message to authorities in Germany to make changes right away!”

Mike Smith, president of
HSLDA, also applauded the decision.

“It’s recognition that the German state is persecuting
homeschoolers,” he said. “We are pleased to have been able to support this courageous family, and we hope and pray that this decision will have a decisive effect on German policy makers who should change their laws to recognize parents’ rights to educate their own children.”

11 comments:

Matt A said...

Tim-

I would highly recommend a study, no matter how brief, of the German School system, starting with Grundschule and working your way up. Bias is apparent in the whole system and the later "education levels" operate on what amounts to a pseudo-caste based system. Their higher education institutions are also particularly interesting. I have an associate from the SSPX down in Louisville who attending University in Stuttgart for a time, and she told me you were lucky if your professor even showed up for class. Note copying and cheating, as well as plagiarism and what we would term copyright infringement were absolutely rampant. She said the actual education was nothing and the emphasis was placed on simply getting the piece of paper. Any real and lasting education was gained only during intensive internships and work study programs that are a part of university level. It seems like they are more focused on conformity than any sort of real and actual education (like, you know, MORAL education).


It's also worth noting that the absolutely heinous american public school system is based on an old Prussian model propounded here by a german-american congressman by the name of Horace Mann

StGuyFawkes said...

The theory of education is different in Germany because the theory of the State is different, as it is in France and all European countries.

In Germany the purpose of education is to create a functional citizen who can uphold the values of the society which are objectively realized in the state and that is what they call Freedom.

In our American context this is a ridiculously "statist" approach which is the anti-thesis of freedom. BUt I urge readers to understand that Europeans understand that a certain intellectual foundation among the citizenry is necessary to protect the values of a republic. This is the reason the French object to the burkah among moslem women. Note that the objection is based on the values of the French Republic, not the French religion which is Catholic only by the thinnest defintion.

The objection to a "parallel society" is a reference to Nazisism, scientology, or any movement which seeks to keep members from their duty to the democratic state.

It all sounds queer and funny to our American, Jeffersonian ears but that's why we are Americans. Still, this is something we need to understand better before we bash it.

All I can say is that in their way of seeing it this measure isn't an anti-libertarian return to political repression, it is rather a safeguard to stop an anti-libertarian return to repression.

(I know, that's a hard one to swallow.)

The role of the state, both philosophical, and moral is defined differently in countries whose democracies do not come out of the anglo-American tradition of separating state from society as you find it in John Locke.

Read Hegel. Read Rousseau.

They are different over there. Really different. And we are different over here. We're Americans. Celebrate it.

Mack said...

Yes, fine, but did you vote in your last school board elections, everyone?

No Hitler said...

The horrible laws against homeschooling in Germany were passed during Hitler's time. The parallel society he wanted to resist was that of religion and free thinking. It's time to throw all of Hitler out and be free-thinking Germans.

Anonymous said...

You are rigt, the law against homeschooling where made by the nazis to get control of the children to ashure that they grow up with the thick ideology of the nazissystem. But the reason why the kids have to go to school today is completely different: Ervery child in Germany has the right on education no matter if the parents want it or not. The only way to ashure this, is to send the children to a school were they learn the values of freedom and demokratie! The only group of people who have a problem with this are fundamentalistic religios groups, wether they are christian or islamistic, because they are afrait of their childeren having their own choise if they want to follow their parents on their extreeme way. I am very happy that the group of unteachable right wing extremist we still also have in Germany are not allowed to teach their children at home!
And even if you want to ashure, that your children grow up with for example christian values, you have the possibility to send your child to a private christian school, wich is even paid by the german taxpayer but still under the control of the German school authorities.You can even found your own school in this system!
The funny thing about this matter is, that the most families who now
have problems with the German school authorities have migrated to Germany from Russia!
They are called German-Russians because their ancestors emigratet from germany to Russia in the 18`century and lived in german religios communities for a long time. After the second world war untill now about 3 million of them came to Germany and got a german passport.
Some of them are fundamentalistic christians and don´t want to send their children to school! Our laws are like I tried to explain before. So why did they migrate to Germany if they do not respect them?
P.S. :Please excuse any mistakes, because my english is not the best!
Jörg from Germany

thetimman said...

Joerg,

Thank you for your email. I am glad you commented here.

But let me respond that I think your position maintaining the rights of the state over the rights of parents--when it comes to the fundamental human right of the choice of education for one's own children-- highlights just why our ancestors left our European homeland and emigrated to this country.

This country is in no way Catholic, and by now the government is growing more and more hostile to individual rights. But the history of this country is one of respecting the fundamental rights of individual citizens from oppression by the state.

In Christendom, in the time of Kings and other hierarchical structures in Europe, this freedom was guaranteed by the Church, the existence of guilds and other voluntary groups, and by respect for traditional rights lived over centuries.

In Europe of today, you have a system based totally on positive law, with no anchor to God, Church, history, tradition or anything else. One social engineer of the past, like Hitler, gives way to one social engineer of the present, like the green party or a wall of Brussels bureaucrats. This is not the natural order of things.

Claiming the government has a greater right to your children than you, the parent, does, is to say in other words that you have no rights at all. This is the epitome of madness, and makes European citizens so malleably, timidly, dependent on the all-powerful state, that makes them cower so.

I say this without condescension, for our own country is far along this path itself. Yet some freedom remains, and the memory and desire for this freedom still exists in our hearts.

I don't want to find myself in the position where I defend any government's right to raise someone else's own children against the wishes of the parent's conscience.

State-funded religious schools are not the antidote to the problem. You live in a country where you are liable to fines and jail for speaking government-condemned thoughts out loud. Why would that government guarantee that a parent could rely on their religious beliefs being faithfully imparted, or that their children will learn history as it happened, and not as the government says it did?

Really, in the end, what the government of Germany or any state is afraid of by homeschooling is not Nazism, but individuals who are strong, free and can think for themselves. They are the real threat to what passes for "free" societies today.

A homeschooler can spot the lies in, for example, a state of the union address or a fake "climate change" warning. A citizen fully formed by the state will be much more likely to buy it.

Thanks again for reading.

StGuyFawkes said...

The exchange between Tim an Jorg is good because it highlights my point:the philosophies of the state and the role of education are very different in European cultures.

In European countries with traditions of monarchies the state is thought to possess in itself an ethical substance simply by existing, and without any reference to the underlying social contract or consent of the governed.

This means that, ideally speaking, the state is the physical embodiment of freedom if it is a good regime. For that reason the state has an obligation to see to the education of her citizens whether they want it or not.
You'll find echoes of this all through Jorg's excellent comments.

All of this is a very far cry from Madison's view that the legitimacy of all goverment is the good opinion of the governed.

We're Americans, we're different, really different in the premises by which we judge government. And that is a good thing.

Now here is my challange, to go just a little off topic.

Some of our traditionalist commentors have taken aristocratic and monarchist postures around the ideal of a social and political order organized around the idea of "Christ the King".

Here is a political science thought question: "In an ideal society recognizing the Kingship of Christ, would homeschooling be allowed based on Jeffersonian principles of goverment?"

I contend that it would not and that homeschoolers can't have it both ways. There cannot be an absolute right to homeschool your children, teaching, for instance, Wiccan principles of religion, in a truly Catholic State.

THis is of little consequence to the current debate but I find it amusing that nostalgia for the Vendee and the sacrificed Louis XVI abides, like "The Dude", in comfortable harmony, with an arch-Jeffersonian principle of limited government. Or, am I to belive that Louis XVI, the grandson of The Sun King, was a limited Monarch?

Traditionalists need to get their political principles straight. Not that it is easy in a messy world like ours.

Best Wishes to All,

St.Guy

thetimman said...

St. Guy,

John Paul II wrote that the right of parents to educate their children:

"... is original and primary... on account of the uniqueness of the loving relationship between parent and children; it is irreplaceable and inalienable and therefore, incapable of being entirely delegated to others or usurped by others". (Familiaris Consortio, #36)

And, in his Letter to the Family:

"Parents are the first and most important educators of their own children, and they also possess a fundamental competence in this area: They are educators because they are parents." (Letter to the Family, #16)

Pope John Paul II suggests that there are others who can aid the family in socialization and teaching but he concludes with a very important comment:

"All other participants in the process of education are only able to carry out their responsibilities in the name of the parents with their consent and to a certain degree with their authorization."

Canon 793.1: "Parents, and those who take their place, have both the obligation and the right to educate their children. Catholic parents have also the duty and the right to choose those means and institutes which, in their local circumstances, can best promote the catholic education of their children."

In a government founded on the Social Kingship of Christ, the parents would retain their natural right to educate their children. This does not, and would not, address the role of government in regulating those schools that accomodate the public. That is another subject entirely.

Thanks to Seton for making some of the above quotes readily obtainable.

StGuyFawkes said...

Tim,

Your quotes are excellent but I don't know if you are answering my question. Or, maybe you are.

1.) Your quotes have demonstrated ably that a right to homeschool can be deduced purely from Catholic principles. I allow that your claim can be argued without reference to Jeffersonian or enlightenment principles.

However, my question was whether a Catholic State could tolerate ANY kind of homeschooling curriculum. I don't think it can without appeal to secularist, enlightenment ideals.

IN your most telling quote you cited His Holiness John Paul who wrote that a parent's right to educate "is irreplaceable and inalienable and therefore, incapable of being entirely delegated to others or usurped by others". (Note the nod to natural law in the use of the word "inalienable".)

Following this citation I conclude that in a regime founded on "The Social Kingship of Christ" a wiccan family would retain the INALIENABLE right to homeschool their children in the Occult Arts of pentagram drawing and root powdering and never teach arithmetic.

So, you are you saying, I think, that a Catholic state would have to suffer an occasional coven at the dark end of the street where Gomez and Pugsly boil frogs and call it education. Correct?

Or does the Church guiding a confessional state still have the right to oversee heresy as it develops in individual homeschools.

You have rescued the right to homeschool from it's home in enlightenment principles, but can you rescue homeschooling from a home where evil parents to abuse their children with false teaching? I mean can you do that if the parent's right is "inalienable" and thus not to be interfered with by Church or State.

Latinmassgirl said...

Guy Fawkes,

The government has no right to tell families what or how to educate their children period, even your wish for a non-existent Catholic State. If the government had the right to monitor what was taught in the home, then why would it stop at supposed home schooling?

The communist were very good at making sure, and still are in communist countries, that the parents do not teach their children anything that goes against the parties' brainwashing. They do this by tapping homes and training all children to be spies, or government informants on their parents.

Is that really what you want? I think not. God gave us the freedom to choose sin or not and parents must also choose how to raise their children.

StGuyFawkes said...

Latin Mass Girl,

I suspect I have been unclear.
Let me try again.

1.) I believe in the right to homeschool.

2.) I think it is important to source that right in the fundemental principles on which this right is founded.

3.) Tim has pointed to the absolute right of parents to educate their children in the faith and secular subjects. He sources this right in the teachings of the Church.

4.) My question is whether that right has another intellectual source in a philosophy of limited government as one finds in the Founding Fathers.

5.) If the right to homeschool can be deduced outside Catholic principles then it would allow for the right to irrelgious and possibly evil homeschool education.

6.) But following the Catholic principle of "error has no rights" then only Christians or Catholics who intend to homeschool according to the teachings of the Church would have the right to homeschool.

7.) Therefore, if the right to homeschool comes exclusively from the rights of the Catholic Faithful then the Addams Family needs to break up their little courses in vivisection and anatomy.

7.) HOwever, if the right comes from a philosophy of limited government which extends to all men then the Addam's Family's homeschool might have to be suffered, or tolerated so that faithful Catholics can maintain that same right for themselves.

That's what I'm driving at. Am I clear, or clear as mud?

Yours,

St. Guy