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Tolerated in America, Persecuted Abroad (problems that European homeschooling families face)
CWR ^ | May 25, 2010 | Daniel Allott

Posted on 05/25/2010 10:55:12 AM PDT by NYer

The Romeike asylum case exposes the problems that European homeschooling families face.

By Daniel Allott

Of all the foreign citizens seeking political asylum in the United States—individuals trying to escape war, genocide, or torture come readily to mind—those fighting for the right to educate their children at home might seem like a low priority for an already over-burdened Department of Homeland Security.

But in February federal immigration Judge Lawrence Burman granted Uwe and Hannelore Romeike and their five children asylum. Not only did it make the Romeikes probably the first family to be granted asylum in America on the basis of a determination to homeschool, but it also highlighted the severe conditions under which many homeschooling families live in Europe.

The Romeikes are from Germany, where homeschooling is illegal in most circumstances. But the family believes that it is their fundamental right to educate their children in accordance with their Christian values, and that those values were not being taught in German schools.

When the Romeikes began homeschooling their three school-aged children, German police officers showed up at their home to escort the children to school. After accruing more than $10,000 in fines and being threatened by the state with having their children taken away from them, the Romeikes sought help from an American homeschooling organization that helped them come to the United States.

In January, after waiting a year and a half, the Romeikes were granted asylum. In a tersely-worded decision, Judge Burman denounced the German policy against homeschooling, calling it “utterly repellent to everything we believe as Americans.”

The Romeike case is only one of the most recent and high-profile cases of persecution of homeschoolers. As home education continues to establish itself as a popular and in some cases preferable alternative to traditional public and private education, it also faces hostility from governments determined to wrest from parents their right and duty to educate their children.

Throughout most of history, children were educated at home. Beginning in the late 1600s, however, many Western countries began establishing compulsory education, which eroded the prevalence of home education. The last few decades have seen a resurgence in homeschooling, especially in the United States, Canada, Great Britain, New Zealand, and Australia. 

Homeschooling laws vary widely in Europe. It’s illegal in Greece, Spain, Holland, and Germany. Swedish parents wishing to homeschool their children must get permission from the government, and Austrian homeschoolers must take annual exams.


As the Romeike case illustrates, Germany may have Europe’s most repressive homeschooling laws. But other European countries are coming down hard on parents who choose to educate their children at home.

The United Kingdom’s parliament is considering legislation that would create an intricate monitoring system for children educated at home, requiring their parents to apply annually for permission to homeschool from the local authority. The law would also allow local authorities to revoke a family’s registration to homeschool for a number of reasons, including a “failure to cooperate.”

In an interview, Roger Kiska, legal counsel with the Alliance Defense Fund (ADF) in Bratislava, Slovak Republic, says that there is a clear trend in Europe toward discouraging homeschooling and imposing state school education. “Parental rights are really at the forefront of European jurisprudence,” he says.

Kiska points to Sweden, where in March the socialist government began considering legislation that would allow home education only under “extraordinary circumstances.” The bill is expected to pass the Swedish parliament and will subject homeschooling families to fines and criminal charges.
Sweden has only approximately 100 homeschooled children, one of whom is seven-year-old Dominic Johansen, who in 2009 was seized by the state because his parents were teaching him at home.

Kiska, who litigates cases before the European Court of Human Rights and European national courts, represents the Johansen family and says that they were not breaking any laws because homeschooling is still legal in Sweden. But Dominic has been held by state authorities since June 2009, and his parents have been allowed to visit their son for just one hour every five weeks.

The United States has by far the world’s largest homeschooling population, estimated at approximately two million children, or 4 percent of the school-aged population. The Home Education Research Institute estimates that the American homeschooling population is growing 7 to 12 percent a year.

Homeschooling is legal nationwide, but regulation varies among states. According to the Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA), a nonprofit organization that advocates for homeschoolers, 10 states require no notice from homeschoolers; 15 states have “low regulation” (requiring only state notification from homeschooling parents); 20 states have “moderate regulation”; and six states have “high regulation,” including mandatory testing of homeschooled children. 

Many US court rulings have affirmed the right of parents to homeschool their children. But the US is not immune to judicial attacks on the right to homeschool. In an infamous 2008 ruling, a panel of the Second District Court of Appeals ruled that California parents “do not have the constitutional right to homeschool their children,” that homeschooling children would be subject to fines, and that “willful failure to comply with such an order may be punished by a fine for civil contempt.”

Homeschooling, per the court’s decision, would be allowed only if it involved full-time, state-credentialed tutors, a standard most homeschool families do not meet. The decision predictably caused an immediate and passionate backlash among California’s approximately 170,000 homeschooling families and their allies. The decision generated political pushback from both sides of the aisle, as Republican Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and Democratic Attorney General Jerry Brown backed homeschoolers.

The court reversed itself later that year, stating, “Based on our review of the law, parents are allowed to qualify as a private school and to teach their children in their own homes as long as the children’s educational opportunities are being met.”


The court’s reversal may reflect the increased general acceptance of homeschooling in America. In 1985, the Gallup Organization found that 73 percent of Americans opposed homeschooling. Sixteen years later, in 2001, just 54 percent opposed it.

That number has likely dropped much further over the last decade, as evidence continues to show that homeschoolers regularly outperform their peers in academic achievement and college preparation.

An August 2009 study, the first major study on homeschooling in more than 10 years, drew on 15 independent testing services and included nearly 12,000 high school students from all 50 states. It found that homeschooled children scored on average in the 80th percentile or above on all subjects compared to their public school peers. Interestingly, the study found that achievement gaps that are well established in public schools between girls and boys and among students from different races and income groups were not evident among homeschoolers.

Once in college, homeschoolers perform as well as public school students. In a 2004 review of existing literature published in the Journal of College Admissions, Dr. Paul Jones and Dr. Gene Gloeckner found that homeschoolers’ grade point averages in their first year of college were not statistically different from those of public school students.

The researchers then conducted their own empirical study and found that “[t]he academic performance analyses indicate that home school graduates are as ready for college as traditional high school graduates and that they perform as well on national college assessment tests as traditional high school graduates.”

As perhaps the best indication of preparedness, homeschoolers have matriculated at more than 900 colleges and universities, and most colleges and universities now have formal application processes for homeschoolers.

The perception of homeschooled children as socially isolated and ill-prepared for life after school is obsolete. Some states, like Maine and New Mexico, have laws that permit homeschooling families to take advantage of public school resources such as sports teams, bands, and art classes.

And most homeschooled children are well prepared for life after school. A recent longitudinal study found that homeschooled Canadians were more socially engaged (measured by the number of organized activities they participated in per week), had higher incomes, were less likely to be on welfare and were happier compared to the overall Canadian population. Perhaps most significantly, the study found that “almost all of the homeschoolers—96 percent—thought homeschooling had prepared them well for life.”

A US Department of Education survey also sheds light on the reasons families choose to homeschool. Among the most common reasons were “concern about the environment of other schools” (85 percent), “dissatisfaction with academic instruction at other schools” (68 percent), and a preference “to provide religious and moral instruction” (72 percent).

Perhaps the most common reason families choose to homeschool is that curriculums at public and private schools conflict with their values on the teaching of religion and sexual issues. As Uwe Romeike told Time about his family’s decision to homeschool in Germany, “The curriculum goes against our Christian values. German schools use textbooks that force inappropriate subject matter onto young children and tell stories with characters that promote profanity and disrespect.”

Many Christians homeschool because they believe parents are entrusted with the main responsibility for teaching their children. For Catholics, education enables children to recognize, accept, and pursue their vocation. Cardinal Francis Arinze, prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and Discipline of the Sacraments, has said, “The primary educators of children are parents. The child is the child of the parent first, and the parents are the first to answer to God for their children.”

The 1983 Code of Canon Law contains numerous references to the primacy of parents in determining how their children are educated.

In the Declaration on Christian Education, Gravissimum Educationis, Vatican Council II reminds parents of their natural law right and obligation to educate their children. It states, “Since parents have given children their life, they are bound by the most serious obligation to educate their offspring and therefore must be recognized as the primary and principal educators.”

In Familiaris Consortio, Pope John Paul II acknowledged the right and duty of parents to provide for the education of their children, calling the right “essential,” “irreplaceable and inalienable and therefore incapable of being entirely delegated to others or usurped by others.”

Roger Kiska says homeschooling’s growing popularity in Europe has many causes. “Bullying is a big issue in schools in Europe. Families are leaving their homes in Germany and going to Austria or other countries because they feel that’s the only way they can raise their children properly without being persecuted by the government. [Increased interest in homeschooling] is founded on the bad environment in the classrooms [and on the] very bad curriculums being taught.”

Kiska says that in many countries students aren’t allowed to “opt-out” of classes they or their parents find objectionable. In March, ADF filed a lawsuit with the European Court of Human Rights on behalf of 305 Spanish parents and children challenging compulsory anti-Christian education in Spain’s public and private schools. The lawsuit was issued after more than 54,000 parents registered complaints with Spain’s government and sought unsuccessfully to have their children removed.

The classes promote a leftist view of social issues such as sexuality and abortion. Materials recommended through the program are extremely hostile to the Catholic Church and many contain highly sexual imagery.

Conditions are clearly better in the United States. But despite homeschooling benefits (for example, a 2008 Heritage Foundation report found that homeschoolers save taxpayers between $4.4 billion and $9.9 billion in instructional costs each year), hostility still exists.

America’s largest and most powerful teachers union, the National Education Association (NEA), opposes homeschooling. Its charter states that “home schooling programs based on parental choice cannot provide the student with a comprehensive education experience…. Instruction should be by persons who are licensed by the appropriate state education licensure agency, and a curriculum approved by the state department of education should be used.” The NEA also believes that homeschooled students should not be allowed to participate in extracurricular activities in public schools.


Many governments have bound themselves to international law through ratification of international instruments that place severe limitations on parents’ right to control their children’s education. A German court ruling that parents could lose custody of their children if they homeschooled was upheld by the European Court of Human Rights in 2007.

Article 13 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) states that parents could be subject to prosecution for any attempt to prevent their children from interacting with material they considered unacceptable. In 1995, the United Kingdom was deemed out of compliance with the convention because it allowed parents to take children out of public school sex education classes without consulting the child. And Kiska notes that the UNCRC was cited when Dominic Johansen was taken away from his family in Sweden.

Although the US has not ratified the UNCRC, some American judges, who have shown a willingness to cite foreign law in their decisions, have ruled that it is nevertheless binding on American parents.

Susan Rice, US ambassador to the United Nations, has said that the Obama administration is discussing whether to seek ratification of the UNCRC. And the US agency for Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has lodged an appeal of the judge’s grant of asylum to the Romeikes.

In its appeal, ICE called homeschoolers too “amorphous” to be a “particular social group” and stated that “US law has recognized the broad power of the state to compel school attendance and regulate curriculum and teacher certification” as well as the “authority to prohibit or regulate homeschooling.” ICE criticized Judge Burman for “improvidently disregard[ing]” the decision of the European Court of Human Rights in granting asylum to the Romeikes.

“What happens in Europe is a big factor in what happens in the US,” says Kiska. “There are activist judges on the various state courts and even on the US Supreme Court who enjoy citing international case law to support their points when they can’t find American law. So it’s a dangerous trend.”

That trend prompted ADF to open an office in Europe, with Kiska as its legal counsel, a year and a half ago. “We decided that if we are not waging a legal battle here in Europe then we’ve left a big door open for [American judges] to import really bad law to the United States.”

At a time when the US increasingly resembles Europe in its government’s determination to seize vital industries, the prospect of a government more and more willing to look to Europe to inform its education policy ought to concern not just homeschooling families but all Americans.

TOPICS: Constitution/Conservatism; Culture/Society; Foreign Affairs
KEYWORDS: germany; homeschool; sweden; uk
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Daniel Allott is senior writer at American Values, a Washington, DC-area public policy organization
1 posted on 05/25/2010 10:55:13 AM PDT by NYer
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To: netmilsmom; thefrankbaum; markomalley; Tax-chick; GregB; saradippity; Berlin_Freeper; Litany; ...
Cardinal Francis Arinze, prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and Discipline of the Sacraments, has said, “The primary educators of children are parents. The child is the child of the parent first, and the parents are the first to answer to God for their children.”

Catholic Ping
Please freepmail me if you want on/off this list

2 posted on 05/25/2010 10:55:58 AM PDT by NYer ("Where Peter is, there is the Church." - St. Ambrose of Milan)
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To: NYer
As my tagline says...Education is too important to leave in the hands of government.
3 posted on 05/25/2010 10:56:21 AM PDT by highlander_UW (Education is too important to leave in the hands of the government.)
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To: highlander_UW; NYer

Absolutely. The Romeike’s are our gain, Germany’s loss.

4 posted on 05/25/2010 10:59:11 AM PDT by This Just In
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To: This Just In

I second that opinion.

5 posted on 05/25/2010 11:01:35 AM PDT by DeoVindiceSicSemperTyrannis
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To: NYer
This is all just dancing around the real problem. We have to take back the schools from the liberals.
6 posted on 05/25/2010 11:02:55 AM PDT by NurdlyPeon (Sarah Palin: Americas last, best hope for survival.)
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To: NYer

“Tolerated in America”. Homeschooling should be celebrated in America. I wish I would have been able to homeschool my kids.

7 posted on 05/25/2010 11:05:55 AM PDT by ilovesarah2012
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To: NurdlyPeon

This isn’t dancing around the problem. This is an attack on the problem. As a matter of fact, this is a solution to the problem.

You can’t “take back” this problem. The government should never be involved in the business of educating our children at all. We must either privatize education, or home educate our children.

All government run institutions of education will reflect the ideology of those in power.

8 posted on 05/25/2010 11:07:04 AM PDT by This Just In
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To: NurdlyPeon

I fear it is too late.

9 posted on 05/25/2010 11:07:19 AM PDT by ilovesarah2012
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To: ilovesarah2012

Step aside, naysayer, and let us do the heavy lifting. Individuals with no conviction die as slaves.

10 posted on 05/25/2010 11:09:12 AM PDT by This Just In
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To: This Just In

Exactly what “heavy lifting” do you propose? I’m all for answers.

11 posted on 05/25/2010 11:10:08 AM PDT by ilovesarah2012
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To: ilovesarah2012

You’re all for answer my eye.

How about all those brave parents removing their children from public schools and educating them at home, for starters?

You’re full of it, and a potential Troll. I suspect anyone who poses on this forum as a FReeper, yet sows seeds of doubt on fundamental ideals of liberty.

12 posted on 05/25/2010 11:17:21 AM PDT by This Just In
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To: This Just In

I hardly need to defend myself to you. You made a comment and I asked how you would do it. I believe home-schoolers make up about 3% of students. Gonna take a lot more than that to change the public schools, no?

Until we figure out how to get rid of the Dept. of Education and return education to local communities, things will only get worse, especially with the power teachers’ unions have.

13 posted on 05/25/2010 11:23:00 AM PDT by ilovesarah2012
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To: NYer
“There are activist judges on the various state courts and even on the US Supreme Court who enjoy citing international case law to support their points when they can’t find American law.

Yet another reason why Kagan must not be confirmed.

14 posted on 05/25/2010 11:24:46 AM PDT by proud American in Canada (my former tagline "We can, and we will prevail" doesn't fit with the usurper's goals.)
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To: This Just In

I’m sure that there sre s wide vsriety of Christian schools in Germany — why didn’t they send the children to one of those?

15 posted on 05/25/2010 11:27:00 AM PDT by kabumpo (Kabumpo)
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To: kabumpo

They did not have the freedoms as home educated children do in this country. And now, the Romeike’s do.

16 posted on 05/25/2010 11:29:08 AM PDT by This Just In
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To: ilovesarah2012

“I hardly need to defend myself to you”

I did not ask you to. I responded to your comment, and you replied.

Our Constitutional government was never designed to establish government run institutions of education. Certainly not at a federal level.

I would agree that the states should be allowed their constitutional rights to govern their citizens without the federal government “overseeing” local political affairs.

17 posted on 05/25/2010 11:33:38 AM PDT by This Just In
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To: NurdlyPeon
We have to take back the schools from the liberals.

Socialist-funded, socialist-modeled, Prussian-tyranny style, government schools can not be “taken back” from the liberals! These schools have **always** been an abomination!!!!


Answer: Because government schools ARE the very essence and expression of socialism and socialism can not be reformed.

Simply by attending children learn that the government has the police power to take money from their neighbor to pay for schooling that their parents want tuition-free. Well?...If the government can use its police power to give away free schooling why not thousands of other free services and goods?

Next,...From the very first day that government schools opened in the mid-1800s children were subjected to a generic and lukewarm Protestantism. Well...We know what Christ does with the lukewarm. He spits them out of His mouth!

From my grandmother's day ( born 1894), government schools were entirely atheistic in their worldview with 2 minutes of puny prayer in the morning. After being subjected to years of socialist and atheistic schooling is it surprising that my grandmother and father mistook FDR for Moses?

Solution: Close down the government K-12 schools! ALL of them! Open private conservative schools for our nation's children.

18 posted on 05/25/2010 11:35:12 AM PDT by wintertime
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To: wintertime

Communist Goals (1963)

Documention below

Congressional Record—Appendix, pp. A34-A35

January 10, 1963

Current Communist Goals



Thursday, January 10, 1963

Mr. HERLONG. Mr. Speaker, Mrs. Patricia Nordman of De Land, Fla., is an ardent and articulate opponent of communism, and until recently published the De Land Courier, which she dedicated to the purpose of alerting the public to the dangers of communism in America.

At Mrs. Nordman’s request, I include in the RECORD, under unanimous consent, the following “Current Communist Goals,” which she identifies as an excerpt from “The Naked Communist,” by Cleon Skousen:

[From “The Naked Communist,” by Cleon Skousen]


1. U.S. acceptance of coexistence as the only alternative to atomic war.

2. U.S. willingness to capitulate in preference to engaging in atomic war.

3. Develop the illusion that total disarmament [by] the United States would be a demonstration of moral strength.

4. Permit free trade between all nations regardless of Communist affiliation and regardless of whether or not items could be used for war.

5. Extension of long-term loans to Russia and Soviet satellites.

6. Provide American aid to all nations regardless of Communist domination.

7. Grant recognition of Red China. Admission of Red China to the U.N.

8. Set up East and West Germany as separate states in spite of Khrushchev’s promise in 1955 to settle the German question by free elections under supervision of the U.N.

9. Prolong the conferences to ban atomic tests because the United States has agreed to suspend tests as long as negotiations are in progress.

10. Allow all Soviet satellites individual representation in the U.N.

11. Promote the U.N. as the only hope for mankind. If its charter is rewritten, demand that it be set up as a one-world government with its own independent armed forces. (Some Communist leaders believe the world can be taken over as easily by the U.N. as by Moscow. Sometimes these two centers compete with each other as they are now doing in the Congo.)

12. Resist any attempt to outlaw the Communist Party.

13. Do away with all loyalty oaths.

14. Continue giving Russia access to the U.S. Patent Office.

15. Capture one or both of the political parties in the United States.

16. Use technical decisions of the courts to weaken basic American institutions by claiming their activities violate civil rights.

17. Get control of the schools. Use them as transmission belts for socialism and current Communist propaganda. Soften the curriculum. Get control of teachers’ associations. Put the party line in textbooks.

18. Gain control of all student newspapers.

19. Use student riots to foment public protests against programs or organizations which are under Communist attack.

20. Infiltrate the press. Get control of book-review assignments, editorial writing, policymaking positions.

21. Gain control of key positions in radio, TV, and motion pictures.

22. Continue discrediting American culture by degrading all forms of artistic expression. An American Communist cell was told to “eliminate all good sculpture from parks and buildings, substitute shapeless, awkward and meaningless forms.”

23. Control art critics and directors of art museums. “Our plan is to promote ugliness, repulsive, meaningless art.”

24. Eliminate all laws governing obscenity by calling them “censorship” and a violation of free speech and free press.

25. Break down cultural standards of morality by promoting pornography and obscenity in books, magazines, motion pictures, radio, and TV.

26. Present homosexuality, degeneracy and promiscuity as “normal, natural, healthy.”

27. Infiltrate the churches and replace revealed religion with “social” religion. Discredit the Bible and emphasize the need for intellectual maturity which does not need a “religious crutch.”

28. Eliminate prayer or any phase of religious expression in the schools on the ground that it violates the principle of “separation of church and state.”

29. Discredit the American Constitution by calling it inadequate, old-fashioned, out of step with modern needs, a hindrance to cooperation between nations on a worldwide basis.

30. Discredit the American Founding Fathers. Present them as selfish aristocrats who had no concern for the “common man.”

31. Belittle all forms of American culture and discourage the teaching of American history on the ground that it was only a minor part of the “big picture.” Give more emphasis to Russian history since the Communists took over.

32. Support any socialist movement to give centralized control over any part of the culture—education, social agencies, welfare programs, mental health clinics, etc.

33. Eliminate all laws or procedures which interfere with the operation of the Communist apparatus.

34. Eliminate the House Committee on Un-American Activities.

35. Discredit and eventually dismantle the FBI.

36. Infiltrate and gain control of more unions.

37. Infiltrate and gain control of big business.

38. Transfer some of the powers of arrest from the police to social agencies. Treat all behavioral problems as psychiatric disorders which no one but psychiatrists can understand [or treat].

39. Dominate the psychiatric profession and use mental health laws as a means of gaining coercive control over those who oppose Communist goals.

40. Discredit the family as an institution. Encourage promiscuity and easy divorce.

41. Emphasize the need to raise children away from the negative influence of parents. Attribute prejudices, mental blocks and retarding of children to suppressive influence of parents.

42. Create the impression that violence and insurrection are legitimate aspects of the American tradition; that students and special-interest groups should rise up and use [”]united force[”] to solve economic, political or social problems.

43. Overthrow all colonial governments before native populations are ready for self-government.

44. Internationalize the Panama Canal.

45. Repeal the Connally reservation so the United States cannot prevent the World Court from seizing jurisdiction [over domestic problems. Give the World Court jurisdiction] over nations and individuals alike.

19 posted on 05/25/2010 11:41:04 AM PDT by This Just In
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To: This Just In

We homeschool for LOTS of reasons. But it really is up to everyone to be sure we keep our right to do so. The NEA hates us. We make them unnecessary. Keep a close eye on CA. They are trying to make it illegal. As goes CA, so goes the US....

20 posted on 05/25/2010 11:49:35 AM PDT by Sunbunny
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