Homeschooling: German Family Gets Political Asylum in U.S.

mscriv

macrumors 601
Original poster
Aug 14, 2008
4,911
586
Dallas, Texas
The Romeikes are not your typical asylum seekers. They did not come to the U.S. to flee war or despotism in their native land. No, these music teachers left Germany because they didn't like what their children were learning in public school - and because homeschooling is illegal there.

"It's our fundamental right to decide how we want to teach our children," says Uwe Romeike, an Evangelical Christian and a concert pianist who sold his treasured Steinway to help pay for the move.

Romeike decided to uproot his family in 2008 after he and his wife had accrued about $10,000 in fines for homeschooling their three oldest children and police had turned up at their doorstep and escorted them to school. "My kids were crying, but nobody seemed to care," Romeike says of the incident.

So why did he seek asylum in the U.S. rather than relocate to nearby Austria or another European country that allows homeschooling? Romeike's wife Hannelore tells TIME the family was contacted by the Virginia-based Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA), which suggested they go to the U.S. and settle in Morristown, Tenn. The nonprofit organization, which defends the rights of the U.S. homeschooling community - with its estimated 2 million children, or about 4% of the total school-age population - is expanding its overseas outreach. And on Jan. 26, the HSLDA helped the Romeikes become the first people granted asylum in the U.S. because they were persecuted for homeschooling.

The ruling is tricky politically for Washington and its allies in Europe, where several countries - including Spain and the Netherlands - allow homeschooling only under exceptional circumstances, such as when a child is extremely ill. That helps explain why in late February, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement formally appealed the Romeike ruling, which was issued by an immigration judge in Memphis, Tenn. His unprecedented decision has raised concerns that the already heavily backlogged immigration courts will be flooded with asylum petitions from homeschoolers in countries typically regarded as having nonrepressive governments.
Full Story

Wow! This story is just full of controversy all the way around. There's a lot more info in the full article.
 

IntheNet

macrumors regular
Oct 6, 2009
190
0
Full Story

Wow! This story is just full of controversy all the way around. There's a lot more info in the full article.
I applaud parents who choose to home school their children and attracting legal immigrants who wish to pursue this type of education for their children is a great plus for this nation's reputation worldwide in terms of freedom of education. We should be marketing this abroad. Moreover, home-schooled children tend to be better educated children, in terms of test scores. In terms of the Romeike family, a paragraph further along in the story provides the key detail:

"One of the Romeikes' concerns was about their kids getting bullied. But their main objection involved what was being taught in the classroom. "The curriculum goes against our Christian values," Uwe says. "German schools use textbooks that force inappropriate subject matter onto young children and tell stories with characters that promote profanity and disrespect."

Religious persecution of school children is a worldwide problem, even in this nation's public schools, so it is wise they chose home schooling and I am glad the Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) helped this family. Bravo!
 

rdowns

macrumors Penryn
Jul 11, 2003
27,345
12,408
I applaud parents who choose to home school their children and attracting legal immigrants who wish to pursue this type of education for their children is a great plus for this nation's reputation worldwide in terms of freedom of education. We should be marketing this abroad. Moreover, home-schooled children tend to be better educated children, in terms of test scores. In terms of the Romeike family, a paragraph further along in the story provides the key detail:

"One of the Romeikes' concerns was about their kids getting bullied. But their main objection involved what was being taught in the classroom. "The curriculum goes against our Christian values," Uwe says. "German schools use textbooks that force inappropriate subject matter onto young children and tell stories with characters that promote profanity and disrespect."

Religious persecution of school children is a worldwide problem, even in this nation's public schools, so it is wise they chose home schooling and I am glad the Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) helped this family. Bravo!
I'm shocked you take this position. :rolleyes:

Got anything better than a Washington Times puff piece on a 'study' done by the Home School Legal Defense Association?

For the most part, home schooled kids lack socialization, have fewer friends, miss out on a lot of kid stuff and do not get well rounded educations.
 

mscriv

macrumors 601
Original poster
Aug 14, 2008
4,911
586
Dallas, Texas
lol, but I'm more wondering what the governments reasons are.
All the article says about this aspect of it is:

But this quest often runs counter to the idea that schools represent society and help promote tolerance. "No parental couple can offer a breadth of education [that can] replace experienced teachers," says Kraus, of the German Teachers' Association. "Kids also lose contact with their peers."

Concerns that homeschooling could lead to insularity - or worse, as Kraus puts it, "could help foster the development of a sect" - are shaping policy debates in European countries.
 

IntheNet

macrumors regular
Oct 6, 2009
190
0
I'm shocked you take this position. :
You shouldn't be; I take the position of freedom, in this case for education, quite often. It is a thematic touchstone in my post record.

Got anything better than a Washington Times puff piece on a 'study' done by the Home School Legal Defense Association?
Got anything that disputes it? And not NEA Union stuff please... Most polling on home schooling shows at least equivalency with, or much improved, student achievement over public schools in terms of test scores.

For the most part, home schooled kids lack socialization, have fewer friends, miss out on a lot of kid stuff and do not get well rounded educations.
:rolleyes: So what you're saying is that home schooling is great, except for the part that kids miss out on keg parties? That about it?
 

yg17

macrumors G5
Aug 1, 2004
14,888
2,480
St. Louis, MO
So what you're saying is that home schooling is great, except for the part that kids miss out on keg parties? That about it?
That is not what he said, don't spin his words like that.

You don't think not having any social skills and fewer friends is a problem?
 

kernkraft

macrumors 68020
Jun 25, 2009
2,455
1
God forbid their kids might have to learn facts and science!
What do you mean by that? Are you suggesting that homeschooling means not teaching your child these subjects? That is not the case. In several countries, where homeschooling is accepted, there are regular examinations to check children's progress.

I think a more reasonable issue to be raised would be that certain countries do not have much respect for certain areas of science. But most of these countries provide their citizens with enough evidence to support their asylum applications in any developed country.
 

rdowns

macrumors Penryn
Jul 11, 2003
27,345
12,408
You shouldn't be; I take the position of freedom, in this case for education, quite often. It is a thematic touchstone in my post record.
How friggin' obtuse are you? Did you not notice the :rolleyes: next to the comment? :rolleyes:

Got anything that disputes it? And not NEA Union stuff please... Most polling on home schooling shows at least equivalency with, or much improved, student achievement over public schools in terms of test scores.
But I thought test scores aren't a good measure of student achievement. Isn't that what the anti-NEA folks always tell us. (I'm pretty anti NEA)


:rolleyes: So what you're saying is that home schooling is great, except for the part that kids miss out on keg parties? That about it?
Nice way to twist things bit one would expect that given your post history.
 

Lord Blackadder

macrumors G5
May 7, 2004
13,521
2,557
Sod off
Well, at least this new immigrant family won't be joining the fight to teach "Intelligent Design" in schools, since they'll be doing it at home instead.
 

mscriv

macrumors 601
Original poster
Aug 14, 2008
4,911
586
Dallas, Texas
If it was any other sect but christianity this would be a far different story.
Although this specific family is Christian, I didn't interpret the issue to be one of Christians vs. public school. It seems to center more on the right for parent's to homeschool regardless of their specific reason for wanting to do so. The article states:

While there are no official figures, it's estimated that up to 1,000 German families are homeschooling their children. Elisabeth Kuhnle, a spokeswoman for a German advocacy group called the Network for the Freedom of Education, says a recent homeschooling meeting attracted about 50 families in the state of Baden-Württemberg, where the Romeikes used to live. She also reckons many German homeschooling families have relocated to countries like France and Britain, where homeschooling is allowed.

In 2007, Germany's Federal Supreme Court issued a ruling - which did not specifically involve the Romeikes - that parents could lose custody of their children if they continued to homeschool them. "We were under constant pressure, and we were scared the German authorities would take our children away," Romeike says. "So we decided to leave and go to the U.S."
It seems kind of harsh for children to be removed from their parents if the family chooses to home school.

EDIT: Hopefully we can have some German MR members join the discussion so we can get some first hand knowledge.
 

Bobdude161

macrumors 65816
Mar 12, 2006
1,220
0
N'Albany, Indiana
All the article says about this aspect of it is:
Figures I don't read to whole article. Thank you for pointing that out.

I also looked up when the ban first started and it was around 1938 when Hitler was in power. After the war I'm guessing they didn't want any opportunities for the Nazi regime to be instilled in kids, so they kept the ban. Just a background on the ban, I like history.

I'd have to disagree with the article about the "breadth of education". By personal experience, the home schooled folk that I've known (maybe ten to twentyish people) were wickedly smart. Back when I was in fourth grade, a kid in my neighborhood who was my age was learning stuff that I didn't see until 6th or 7th grade. Also a girl I know now was taught by her mother all her life and does extremely well in her college classes. I think there's an larger amount of accountability in home schooled education, compared to public schools in keeping up with school work and following up on questions that a child might have.

I do believe that a parent should have the right to decide on where their child will learn, be it public, private, montessori or homeschool. If it's anything other than public, the government should at least be able to make sure the kids are meeting standards on a quarterly or bi-annual (maybe) basis. Religious beliefs shouldn't be a factor in banning homeschooling.
 

nbs2

macrumors 68030
Mar 31, 2004
2,713
485
A geographical oddity
There are a lot of issues with home-schooling, but I look at it like the small business version of "corporate" school-schooling. Starting a small business isn't a good idea for most folks, but there are plenty of scenarios where that is an ideal alternative to working within a major coprorate structure. Just as a smart bank would look at the business plan and decide whether to issue a loan or not, curriculums should be approved on their standardized merits by disinterested third parties (as opposed to evaluation by those affected or evaluation on personal bias).

Additionally, many home schooled kids have opportunities to overcome the social limitations thourgh home-schooling joint activities (field trips/social events/sports/etc).

Is home-schooling perfect? No. But neither is school-schooling. Neither should be disregarded as an option.
 

Eraserhead

macrumors G4
Nov 3, 2005
10,300
10,366
UK
^^ The European court of human rights disagrees.

The Economist said:
Under Germany’s stringent rules, home schooling is allowed only in exceptional circumstances. Before emigrating, Mr and Mrs Romeike had been fined some €12,000 ($17,000); policemen had arrived at their house and forcibly taken their children to school. The Romeikes feared that the youngsters might soon be removed by the state.

In September 2006 the European Court of Human Rights ruled that Germany was within its rights to follow this approach. Schools represented society, it judged, and it was in the children’s interest to become part of that society. The parents’ right to raise their offspring did not go as far as depriving their children of the social experience of school.
(source - subscription may be required)
 

Gelfin

macrumors 68020
Sep 18, 2001
2,166
4
Denver, CO
As someone who must compete for jobs and whose presently-hypothetical children will one day also have to compete for jobs, I too congratulate evangelicals on their choice of home schooling, and heartily support legislation relaxing oppressive mainstream secular curriculum requirements on homeschooling parents. Their choice is not simply a principled stance, but an investment in the future, and the more popular religiously-motivated home schooling becomes, and the more freedom of conscience they are granted with regard to the educational process, the brighter the future seems for me and my progeny.
 

nbs2

macrumors 68030
Mar 31, 2004
2,713
485
A geographical oddity
^^ The European court of human rights disagrees.
While I lack the sophistication and knowledge of the honorable men and women that make up the court, I must respectfully disagree.

If caregivers may not deny a child the right to participate in society, then it should follow that expulsion from public schooling should not be an option (at least as far as my understanding of American expulsion goes). Such a move is an ejection by the state of that child from what they seem to consider an essential component of life, and thus a veritable "social death penalty."

Moreover, the school day is a period devoted to learning, often in individualized settings (that is, in a lecture, rather than lab, format). A parent who forbids a child to participate in non-core activities, those which take place outside of the classroom, would be similarly guilty of denying the child the opportunity to participate in society.

Of course, we need to examine the problem of children who exclude individuals from social inclusion. While such exclusion is certainly a part of society, should the fostering of such exclusions from such a young age be encouraged or discouraged (even not acting sends a tacit symbol of approval)? Those children who exclude others must be required to permit social participation by all children, if we are going to encourage participation in society.

Finally, until the age of consent, a child has no authority over their decision to attend school. While truancy officers may force a child to go to the facility, their is no method that I know of that could mandate social participation by those children. How does the court propose to to enforce a mandate that all children participate in society, and how does society benefit when the child has no desire to participate in the particular construct?

In the alternative, development of a mature home-schooling program can lead to greater opportunities for children. Not only can they obtain greater benefit from an individualized work plan than from a generalized, but opportunities to foster mini-schools can develop. If a group of parents that home-school join together and teach areas of specialization, you can gain even greater instruction than you would in school. With the lower cost of overhead and bureaucracy, more time and effort can be put into education and experimentation than simply meeting a generalized standard. Finally, as more children are home-schooled, opportunities for social interaction naturally develop. Leveraging quantity into group rates, groups of parents can create opportunities for social and educational mingling on field trips and social outings.

I was public schooled, my wife was public schooled, my kids will be public schooled, but I recognize that homeschooling isn't limited to backwards hillbillys, tinfoil hatters, and antisocial luddites just as public school is not the panacea to improving society that the court's ruling would suggest. Each has a place, and an involved parent will take the time to determine what is most appropriate for a given child (the uninvolved will likely send the kid to public school becuase it is just less work).
 

lancestraz

macrumors 6502a
Nov 27, 2005
898
0
RI
Probably to prevent kids from learning crap like an invisible man in the sky made everything and that the Flinstones was a documentary.
For the most part, home schooled kids lack socialization, have fewer friends, miss out on a lot of kid stuff and do not get well rounded educations.
God forbid their kids might have to learn facts and science!
Ah, I hate how people assume you are a socially impaired friendless right-wing religious fanatic who grew up on a farm and thinks that god created the Earth in a week when you tell them you are/where home schooled. This is why as a liberal atheist physics/engineering student with friends and social skills, I wont tell you that I was homeschooled unless directly asked (or in a situation such as this).
However, when I was homeschooled I did know some pretty crazy people (by my standards). I remember one time arguing with this kid who was taught that the earth was 10,000 years old.
I guess as rdowns said, "for the most part" you would be right. Not all of us are like that, though. Just sayin'.
 

ejb190

macrumors 65816
I hate how people assume you are a socially impaired friendless right-wing religious fanatic who grew up on a farm and thinks that god created the Earth in a week...
Check, check, check, and check - and I went to public school and have two degrees in biological sciences from public universities.

I used to work with a lot of kids through a program I managed. There were a good number of home schooled kids there. It is really hard to generalize about home schoolers. There are some parents doing an incredible job. There are some parents who have no business trying to home school.

But the argument is not "is home schooling good or bad"

1) Does the German (or any government) have the right to control the schooling of the children.
2) Does the US government have the right to circumvent German law by allowing this family asylum. (Though granted they could have gone to another European country that allowed homeschooling.)
3) By allowing asylum, the US Government is acknowledging that lack of educational freedom amounts to persecution on par with religious or political. This upends German and European sovereignty - places not generally considered oppressive.