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Homeschooling a reason for political asylum?

by Fran Thu Jan 28th, 2010 at 08:11:08 AM EST

Over the last few days I  saw this story about this German Family being granted political asylum in the US, because they were not allowed to homeschool their children in Germany.


I first saw this in the Telegraph:
German homeschoolers granted political asylum in US - Telegraph


A German couple who fled to America so they could homeschool their children have been granted political asylum by a US immigration judge.

The decision, announced Tuesday in Memphis, clears the way for Uwe Romeike, his wife and five children to stay in Tennessee, where they have been living since 2008.

German state constitutions require children to attend public or private schools, and parents can face fines or prison time if they do not comply.

And then The Spiegel chipped in:
Political Asylum for Homeschoolers: Evangelical Christians Celebrate Victory over 'Embarrassed' Germany - SPIEGEL ONLINE - News - International

A German couple who wanted to homeschool their children have been granted political asylum in the US. Evangelical Christians have welcomed the decision, claiming that Germany was trying to "coerce ideological uniformity" through its ban on homeschooling.

Christian fundamentalists have welcomed the decision by a US court to award a German family political asylum in the United States because the parents were unwilling to subject their children to mandatory school attendance rules in Germany.

Uwe and Hannelore Romeike from the town of Bissingen in the southwestern German state of Baden-Württemberg wanted to teach their five children at home because they feared that they were being taught an "anti-Christian worldview" in public schools. They pulled their children out of school and in 2008, after fighting the authorities for years, emigrated to the United States, where they applied for political asylum in 2009. On Tuesday night, the evangelical Christian lobbying group Home School Legal Defense Assoication (HSLDA) announced that the Romeikes' asylum application had been approved.

Announcing his verdict in a court in Memphis, Tennessee, Judge Lawrence Burman ruled that the Romeikes' were entitled to political asylum. According to HSLDA -- the ruling is not yet officially available --, Burman argued that he believed the Romeike family's basic human rights were being violated in Germany. "We can't expect every country to follow our constitution," he said, as quoted by the organization. Burman also defined so-called homeschoolers, who teach their children at home, as "a particular social group that the German government is trying to suppress." The family, Burman argued, has "a well-founded fear of persecution" and, as a result, the right to political asylum in the United States.

I know that you can homeschool children in the US and that in Germany and as far as I know in Switzerland School is mandatory. How is this in other European Countries and are there any rules at the EU level?

What are advantages or disadvantages of homeschooling in your opinion and of course what do you see as the advantages of mandatory school visits?

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I apologies for the hasty diary, I only had little time, however thought the topic to be of general interest and sorry also for not being around for the discussion as I have to go back to work.
by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Jan 28th, 2010 at 08:13:12 AM EST
Thanks for this.

To think that in 1980, it was illegal to homeschool. Now there are over 1.1 million children being homeschooled.

by Charles Lemos on Thu Jan 28th, 2010 at 08:24:28 AM EST
[ Parent ]
In the US?
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Thu Jan 28th, 2010 at 10:51:22 AM EST
[ Parent ]
In Denmark, it is mandatory to ensure that your children receive the equivalent of grade school education, but this does not have to happen at schools.

It is not actually enforced, and it is hard to see how it could be. Although I would assume that in a custody case most judges would rule that certain kinds of homeschooling were not in the best interest of the child.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Thu Jan 28th, 2010 at 08:24:02 AM EST
45 Americans claim asylum in Britain | UK news | guardian.co.uk

They hail from the land of the free, the home of the brave, a place where it is said anyone can prosper regardless of colour, creed or religion. But dozens of Americans have tried in recent years to gain asylum in the UK by claiming they were persecuted in their homeland, according to figures released to the Guardian under the Freedom of Information Act.

Home Office statistics show that between 2004 and 2008, 45 Americans submitted asylum applications to the UK Border Agency claiming they had fled the US and were unable to go back because they had a well-founded fear of persecution. Fifteen Canadians also applied. All 60 were turned down.



Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Thu Jan 28th, 2010 at 08:24:04 AM EST
and a quote from the article

45 Americans claim asylum in Britain | UK news | guardian.co.uk

It is interesting - I'd be curious to know more - not least because in spite of what the law books say, granting asylum is a criticism of the originating state."


Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Thu Jan 28th, 2010 at 08:25:24 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Homeschooling - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
France
Status: Legal

In France, homeschooling is legal and requires the child to be registered with two authorities, the 'Inspection Académique' and the local town hall (Mairie). Children between the ages of 6 and 16 who are not enrolled in recognized correspondence courses are subject to annual inspection.[40][41]

Inspections were brought in ten years ago in response to cases where children were being brought up collectively in religious or fake religious sects, and allegedly subjected to brainwashing or abuse.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Thu Jan 28th, 2010 at 11:03:15 AM EST
In Sweden, school is mandatory ages 6-15 and if your kids never show up, social services will probably take an interest.

Though I suppose you could start your own private school for your kids, as long as your curriculum fits national standards and you have a teachers degree. If you manage to slap on a non-discriminatory application process for students and do not charge fees, you will even get government funding.

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se

by A swedish kind of death on Thu Jan 28th, 2010 at 12:13:44 PM EST
More evangelical Christian fundamentalists to the United States. Europe has a long history of sending/driving their religious nut cases to the U.S.A. Just what America precisely needs now is more fundamentalists. Wheee!
by Magnifico on Thu Jan 28th, 2010 at 12:30:54 PM EST
My first reaction to the news was "good riddance", before confirming my guess that we were talking about fundamentalist Christians.

En un viejo país ineficiente, algo así como España entre dos guerras civiles, poseer una casa y poca hacienda y memoria ninguna. -- Gil de Biedma
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Jan 28th, 2010 at 12:39:54 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The status quo in the UK is that education is compulsory, but school is not.  Parents have the right to educate their children at home.  As they aren't required to register, nobody knows how many do, but the usual estimate is about 55,000.

It's a live issue right now, following last year's Badman Report. Driven in part by the unsubstantiated (but not exactly unreasonable) suspicion that home schooling might in some cases be a cover for abuse, it recommends compulsory registration, annual inspections and withdrawal of registration (i.e. a return to the state school system) for children failing to meet their parentally-defined markers of academic progress.  Badman also highlighted that "suitable" and "efficient" (the key terms used in defining a suitable curriculum) aren't adequately defined, and a review of this is underway.

The Badman recommendations were included in the bill, currently before Parliament.  Following heavy lobbying from homeschoolers (enraged, not entirely unreasonably, by the fact that, solely amongst parents, they would have their homes visited without any prior cause for suspicion), the bill left the Commons Schools Select Committee with the recommendation that registration be voluntary. Which would make it largely pointless.

I know that my views on the subject are coloured by the very small sample of home schoolers I've met, who have been, without a doubt, an unpleasant bunch, mostly motivated by the nastier strains of Christianity.  However, a lot of abuse is spotted in schools, and an hour or so a year doesn't seem like too much for the responsible parents to grant for the safety of children less lucky than their own. And if they're going to home educate, they should have an idea what their child is going to learn. Graham Badman, giving evidence to the Select Committee last week, put it very well:

Proper and responsible parents make that decision, often for very good reason. I acknowledge that there are many good reasons why people should decide on home education. Equally, they must have some view of what they are going to achieve, and what are the needs of their child. If they had no idea of the needs of the child, they might just as well have left them in a school.
by Sassafras on Thu Jan 28th, 2010 at 02:54:55 PM EST
Given sufficient resources, I have a rather rose-tinted view about what I would really like for my children: a home-school partnership, where they spent some time in school, because they have a right to hear opinions other than mine, and make friends I don't immediately like,  and some time with me, doing the things that schools can't afford/do for 30 children because 5 are interested and so on.  We do these things anyway, but it would be very, very nice to do them better.
by Sassafras on Thu Jan 28th, 2010 at 05:18:36 PM EST
This sounds like an interesting concept to me. My doubts of homeschooling is, if anyone can do it, how can it be ensured that the children learn what is required. I mean if one of the parents is a teacher, I can see it, but otherwise I not sure this is a good solution.
by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Jan 29th, 2010 at 12:42:25 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Fran:
how can it be ensured that the children learn what is required

A fair response to that is how can it be ensured that the children who attend school learn what is required?

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Fri Jan 29th, 2010 at 03:23:49 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Schools are subject to oversight that private homes are not (yet, and despite the fervent wishes of NuLab and their fellow travellers...).

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Fri Jan 29th, 2010 at 05:25:56 AM EST
[ Parent ]
the interesting question there is Required by who?

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Fri Jan 29th, 2010 at 06:56:38 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I went to school with a few kids who had an arrangement similar to your proposal. Four days worth of the school week were at home, and one day worth was at the public school for the classes you can't easily do at home - choir, band, shop class, etc.

you are the media you consume.

by MillMan (millguy at gmail) on Fri Jan 29th, 2010 at 03:49:40 PM EST
[ Parent ]
claiming that Germany was trying to "coerce ideological uniformity" through its ban on homeschooling.

Heh, wasn't it just the evangelical homeschoolers who wanted to coerce ideological purity on their children?...

I don't know the current rules in Hungary, but some homeschooling must be allowed. Just the other day, I read about a 16-year-old transsexual who fled mobbing at school that way.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Fri Jan 29th, 2010 at 08:02:45 AM EST
Homeschooling - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Hungary
Status: Legal

The Hungarian laws allow homeschoolers to teach their children as private students at home as long as they generally follow the state curriculum and have children examined twice a year.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Fri Jan 29th, 2010 at 09:33:42 AM EST
[ Parent ]


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