Skip to comments.Germany jails homeschoolers
Posted on 10/20/2006 7:08:55 AM PDT by NYer
Germany jails homeschoolers
FIGHTING FOR THE RIGHT TO HOMESCHOOL — Mike Farris talks with a family who have already taken their plea to the German Supreme Court. Although the family lost at that level, they are still homeschooling.
By Susan Brinkmann
On Thursday, Sept. 7, in Paderborn, Germany, a female plainclothes police officer rang the doorbell at the home of Katharina Plett. When Plett opened the door, other police officers who were hiding rushed into her home.
Plett was placed under arrest. The officers followed her into the bedroom where she was permitted to change her clothes. Before being taken to nearby Gelsenkirchen prison, she was permitted to contact her husband, who had fled the country the day before with their 12 children.
If you suspect Plett is guilty of a very serious crime, guess again. She was arrested and thrown in prison for homeschooling her children.
Homeschooling, along with any educational institution other than state-run schools, was outlawed by Adolf Hitler in 1938. But a recent decline, both academically and morally, in the country’s public school system has more and more German parents looking for better ways to educate their children.
“The German people want options,” said Christopher J. Klicka, senior counsel at the Virgina-based Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) which consults with homeschooling organizations in Germany and other nations. “They want to get out of the public school system so they’re testing the limits, and the German government is slamming their fingers as soon as they try.”
The situation became even more grave on Sept. 27, when the European Court of Human Rights delivered a stunning defeat to another German couple, Fritz and Marianna Konrad, who had argued for the right to homeschool their two children.
The Konrads contended that Germany’s compulsory school attendance laws were a violation of their human rights.
The human rights court ruled: “Parents may not refuse the right to education of a child on the basis of their convictions,” adding that the right to education “by its very nature calls for regulation by the state.”
Klicka said his association was “very disappointed” by the ruling. “When you look at the language of the European Union (EU) human rights constitution — which is a higher law over all the 25 countries of the European Union — they have a reference to a parent’s right to educate their children. When you look at wording of the constitution, it looks pretty good.
“But when I looked at the opinion of this Court, and how they interpreted the German situation, I was incredulous at how they took the plain language of the human rights constitution and just twisted it up to come up with this ruling.”
What makes the decision so menacing is that it opens the door to other European nations that may wish to curtail homeschooling in their countries.
“In Europe, homeschooling is legal in some fashion everywhere but Germany,” Klicka said. “It might be regulated or restricted a little, such as in France, where they subject homeschoolers to curriculum review, and the Czech Republic, where you can homeschool until the fifth grade.
“This ruling doesn’t change any of the [laws of] other nations, it just gives them the okay that if they wanted to crack down legislatively — outlaw or prohibit homeschooling — they can do that.”
Since the E.U. human rights court ruling, German families that want to homeschool can forget trying to win the right to do so through the court system.
“For Germany, it’s curtains,” Klicka said.
Unfortunately for German parents, the climate in public school education shows no signs of improving. Graphic sex education, the promotion of ideologies that undermine Biblical morality, and poor academic performance in public schools continues to fuel the movement to challenge the government’s 68 year old stranglehold on education.
Thanks to the internet, German families are discovering that the same problems in U.S. public schools sparked the success of a homeschooling movement whose ranks have swollen to two million children, many of whom consistently outperform their public school peers.
“Three main issues have sparked the movement toward homeschooling in Germany,” Klicka said. “First, the knowledge of homeschooling has increased because of the internet; second, moral issues such as graphic sex education and homosexuality; and third, academic studies are showing that things are not going so well in German public schools.”
An Italian study completed five years ago measured children’s academic performance in 20 European countries. Germany was very close to the bottom of the list.
“That was a very embarrassing study for Germany,” Klicka said. “All of a sudden, people were doubting the public school system and wondering if their kids were getting a good education. Although we have many of the same problems with our public schools, Americans have the option to choose to homeschool.”
German couples are not so lucky, and many of them have paid a high price in the form of fines or imprisonment for trying to change the laws.
For instance, in 2004, Sigrid and Michael Bauer tried to fight compulsory school attendance for their five children because public education was undermining their Christian beliefs. The state ultimately ruled that parents must accept the teaching methods and content of public school education, even if they contradict a family’s religious convictions. The law says that parents who “continually or obstinately prevent their children from fulfilling the compulsory school attendance” be slapped with stiff fines or prison terms up to six months.
“The only options left for Germans is to seek asylum in America or other countries,” Klicka said. He was one of seven members of the board of a German homeschooling association, called School Instruction at Home, that included at least 200 families. Of the seven original members, only one still lives in Germany.
“The other option is to put pressure on the government,” Klicka said. “If there’s enough international pressure and media attention, the Germans could change their legislation to allow homeschooling. All countries are somewhat sensitive to the US perspective.”
He said members of his association, which supports and has helped to found homeschooling organizations in 28 countries, have made a difference by contacting embassies.
“We’ve had some success with stopping bad bills in the Czech Republic and Ireland, and we passed a good bill in South Africa,” he said. “And it was purely through international pressure.”
Readers may respectfully protest the German government’s actions by writing to the German ambassador at the following address:
Wolfgang Ischinger, Ambassador; German Embassy, 4845 Reservoir Road NW;
Washington, D.C., 20007-1998, and by calling (202) 298-4000 or visiting on the Web: www.globescope.biz/germany/reg/index.cfm.
And so we hear the cry of the Marxists who would brutally suppress anything that competes with their precious indoctrination centers. "We must have standards. Obviously all you parents can't live up to our standards so we must drag your children into the government school grist mill."
Wake up. It's none of your business whether a child is "left behind" or excels beyond any other child in the government school mills.
You know... I don't know what I said to make you think I was a Marxist... matter of fact I didn't say anything at all to elicit the response you sent me.
I never said I was against home schooling, just the opposite. So why don't you check your knee jerk reaction at the door.
"It's a matter of priorities. The German law puts the right of the children to be protected from childwork, homeschooling etc. higher then the right of the parents to decide what special kind of education their children might get.
Looking at the high number of muslim and other immigrants I can only hope we keep this law - otherwise we loose young muslims to the imam schools." You wrote
People should have a right to an education. But if the state gives itself the power to force public education onto people, then it becomes forceful state mandated indoctrination. While ineffective with a group like the Muslims in Germany; it is exactly that which some hope to achieve. That is exactly a power the state should not and thank God does not have in the US.
You loose the Muslims anyway. They grow up in predominantly Muslim communities like in Feschenheim (FF a.M.), they go to their Mosque, send their kids back to Turkey or where ever to get untaught dirty Western ways. They have their own TV, radio, and newspapers. They wear headscarves because they choose not to integrate and make it a point to separate themselves from our societies. They choose to live among us because of the jobs and material wealth, but many (not all) don't really want to be part of the society. No, your public education system will not influence this. It has not worked thus far, and it's been going on since the late 70s.
Home schooling my little German friend, was banned in 1938; guess by who?
At the same time while they banned home schooling they did create other new great educational programs like the HJ. Like your Kindergeld, the proponents of this great masterpiece in social engineering (A common theme among socialists world wide) in Germany really dont want to discuss the origin of these programs or ideas.
Ask yourself this. Those trying to home school in Germany, are they Muslims? No, they are not; the couple in trouble today is Baptist. What does that do with your whole make belief argument that this somehow will force integrate the Muslim minority? The courts in Europe backing the German law has nothing to do with protecting children from child labor or any other thing. It's about power, and a state that which whenever it has power will exercise it. Those making the decisions in this matter were all secular progressives; the same bunch that wanted to penalize Poland because of their position on gays.
Theyre a bunch of socialists, and they like big government, and believe in concepts like staatliches Gewaltmonopol, zentralizierung etc. Sure, this issue is one about protecting children, I believe it./sarc
Nothing I can say can compare to the actual experience. Go to Amazon or ABE and obtain a cheap used copy of any Saxon Math book. Try it out and see if I am not right. You can also contact Saxon Math in, I believe, Norman, Oklahoma. These books are a mainstay of many homeschoolers. When first, I encountered the books, I was immediately jealous of today's students (including my kids) who can learn math from the Saxon texts. Forty plus years ago, I had a 757 in the Math SAT and a much higher score on the Advanced Math Achievement test without really understanding Algebra. Today, I work my way through Saxon texts as a hobby. I also have my old prep school texts and they are not competitive.
Finally, when I did radio talk and simply praised Saxon Math texts, gummint skewel teachers would call, hissing and spitting their hatred of Saxon Math which concentrates on teaching the Math that many so-called math teachers cannot master and avoids pretty picture laden "interesting" texts. The gummint skewel teachers whine that Saxon is boring. Well educated students don't.
Try Saxon Math books. You will love them.
If you want Catholic kids to learn Latin, I do recommend the texts we used forty plus years ago: Fr. Robert Henle's (SJ) Latin (4 volumes plus a grammar volume) published in 1942 and ever since by Loyola Press in Chicago, available in hardback and paper to this day. Fr. Henle was president of Georgetown University so long ago that its was still Catholic. He died at the age of 102 just a couple of years ago in Chicago.
I quoted at least part of what you said, pay attention. Your remarks on whether home schooled children are adequately educated and that some of them are socially retarded tags you. Or maybe you're just an insufferable busybody.
I never said I was against home schooling, just the opposite.
Oh horse manure. You said absolutely nothing that indicates you are in favor of home schooling. To the contrary, your remarks indicate you are deeply suspicious of it.
So why don't you check your knee jerk reaction at the door.
That's funny. Hello pot, have you met kettle?
Germans should have learned a lesson when their government, headed by Hitler, turned their children into Nazi Brownshirts.
But their control-freak nature just can't abide the thought of freedom. They worship government regulation and punish the individualism these parents exhibit, and that's why Germany is dying.
Read one of my replies Post 33
I said "As I said in my last post many of the homeschoolers my wife deals with are very smart, well behaved and are great children. My point was that the "few" that seem left behind, well... they are really really REALLY left behind."
Still feel the same? If so that is just too bad...
"If religious schools genuflect to government standards, it will not much matter that they pray and have holy pictures in classrooms if the state dictates that they be taught where they may get their abortions,"
Yes, well, if those political issues are imposed as part of the government oversight of curriculum, it would be a real problem. But they aren't, either in France (or in the US).
The state supervision of the curriculum of private schools and home schools in France consists of ensuring that the appropriate math and language skills and history are taught. Positions on those particular social issues you mentioned are not part of the curriculum.
From The Wealth of Nations:
After the public institutions and public works necessary for the defence of the society, and for the administration of justice, both of which have already been mentioned, the other works and institutions of this kind are chiefly for facilitating the commerce of the society, and those for promoting the instruction of the people. The institutions for instruction are of two kinds: those for the education of the youth, and those for the instruction of people of all ages. The consideration of the manner in which the expense of those different sorts of public works and institutions may be most properly defrayed will divide this third part of the present chapter into three different articles.
But though the common people cannot, in any civilized society, be so well instructed as people of some rank and fortune; the most essential parts of education, however, to read, write, and account, can be acquired at so early a period of life, that the greater part, even of those who are to be bred to the lowest occupations, have time to acquire them before they can be employed in those occupations. For a very small expense, the public can facilitate, can encourage and can even impose upon almost the whole body of the people, the necessity of acquiring those most essential parts of education.
The public can impose upon almost the whole body of the people the necessity of acquiring the most essential parts of education, by obliging every man to undergo an examination or probation in them, before he can obtain the freedom in any corporation, or be allowed to set up any trade, either in a village or town corporate."
However I agree with Milton Freedman on the issues surrounding public schools. The fact they are accountable to no one is a huge problem that never gets addressed.
Now if you wish to call me a Marxist so be it. However you better start calling some of the Conservative members of SCOTUS Marxists as well because some of their rulings such as Scalia's opinion on VERNONIA SCHOOL DIST. v. ACTON and the opinion that REHNQUIST joined in NEW JERSEY v. T.L.O not only validate their existence but validates their authority of "in loco parentis" (to act with parental authority in place of the parent). I don't agree with such rulings
Oh great now the Libs on our SC will use this ruling as precedence
This is about intimidation, making an example. It's not about a compelling state interest in this particular instance.
This is also the goal of those who oppose Hone Schooling in California. Which is becoming very unfriendly to HS.
Don't be ridiculous, Smith predates Marx by over 70 years. Thomas Jefferson and Abraham Lincoln were also in favor of public education, but that doesn't make them Marxists either. It wasn't until the 20th century when public education had become widespread that it was discovered to be untenable for actual education and solely a tool for indoctrination. Once again, read Bukharin. Anyone who supports government-run schools, especially forced government schooling, is a Marxist on that topic, since the only purpose for government schools is to indoctrinate children and young adults into socialism. And yes, that includes Rhenquist and Scalia on that topic.
One cannot favor public education as a reality and still support home schooling. By its very nature, public education must be forced and ubiquitous. Government-run schools and home schools are mutually exclusive. However, since so many people still believe the dichotomy can exist, the purveyors of government indoctrination employ the subtle agit-prop that home-schooled children can be and sometimes are less educated and less "socialized" than their government indoctrinated peers. People who wish to continue to support the impossible dichotomy pick this propaganda up and mindlessly repeat it.
There is no objective, empirical evidence proving that home schooled children are any less educated or any more poorly socially adapted. Indeed, there is ample evidence to show that across three standard deviations, home schooled children are better educated for their ages and as a whole and are better behaved in social settings. Your wife's anecdotes do not constitute evidence of anything other than simple bias.
You know if you had read the whole thread I posted to the user "sittnick" you would have seen what my wife really thought. She didn't think that at all... as a matter of fact just the opposite. Oh I forgot... once you have it in your head that someone is making a certain claim there is no convincing you that you are wrong. You are determined to prove me and now my wife are Marxists even though I clarified in other posts I was not trying to denigrate home schooling. Know what... it seems to me you really are just looking for someone to yell at and I posted something that remotely gave you an excuse to do so.
Also I am well aware that Smith predates Marx. My point was to show how ludicrous your question was: "Do you believe education is a proper function of government? If your answer is even conditionally yes, then with regard to that issue, at least, you are a Marxist."
Know what... let's end this here right now. People on Free Republic lately seem to be so angry that anything remotely resembling criticism turns them into rabid animals. I tried to clarify my original post and since you are unwilling to accept that I don't really feel the need to discuss this issue further.
As a matter of fact I did read the whole thread, especially the part where you accused sittnick of having a chip on his shoulder as well. That's an interesting technique you have for discourse, there. The wounded victim act might get you out of a rhetorical tight spot, but it certainly doesn't do your position much good.
I think your post was honest and you stated a bias you thought everyone would share. I'm not interested in this any more either because one of two things is true: you will soothe your ego with excuses about thin-skinned Freepers or you will think about the responses you got and learn something from them. I'm betting on the latter. Have a great weekend.
My "chip on the shoulder remark" wasn't meant as a tactic in anything. Even "sitnick" agreed that on this particular topic he/she has a chip on his shoulder and he/she explained why.
I just read 'my little friend' and guessed it was one of your provoking anti german postings again.
Are you willing to write something that we, who share a style of civilized discussion might read ? Then rephrase please.
Noone would argue that parents are the most important teachers of their children.
Since school is only a half day and week days occupation they still keep their children for the most times. The schools are in contact with the parents (it least they should be) and are not in opposition to them.
To have public schools that are under the eyes of many parents and the survey of the churches, the state and independent pedagogic consultancies grants a good quality of education. You wouldn't want your children to eat something that wasn't checked either.
Preventing indoctrination by keeping education out of the sight of society is a strange concept in my opinion.
The later point of yours is a good point, because the answer is - noone got this right until today.
it iss not a right it iss a DOOTY! JAWOHL!
They would certainly keep their children form a publicaly and open disputed and discussed form of education.
Why would indoctrination be any easier in a public ond open form of school then in the cellars of some private entities ?
Conservative Americans believe people should have the freedom of choice. We also see PLENTY of socialist indoctrination in our public schools that goes against our moral and family values. Your argument that "because it is in public it cannot happen" falls flat. The schools set up governing bodies called school boards, and between the boards making decisions, the teachers unions wielding power, and individual teachers spreading propaganda in their classrooms, socialist indoctrination is a daily business. I was a public school teacher, and I saw it every single day. That is why 2 million or more American children are now home-schooled and the number is rising all the time.
Looks like some of the nazis are still around.
Little should be appropriate, you are 14 or so right?
Your posting is appealing because you're not saying that homeschooling is a perfect thing but may backfire in some cases.
I understand that you put the freedom of the individual on top priotrity and you want to assure that you have as less state as possible.
I know about religious madrasses and I would see a possibility of homeschooling as a weak point in legislation to put children there INSTEAD of sending them to school.
My argumentation might fall flat in america and I honour your experience.
But we are talking about germany - and here teachers are officers that stand under an oath inding them to our constitution.
Every school book is examined by a committe consisting of teachers, representants from churches, family organisations and other groups before it is allowed to be used in schools.
The access to the job of a teacher is only graned if you are able to proove that you are not an extremist.
As an example extreme left wingers that tried to get employed in german schools during the 60s and 70s were excluded from office.
Homeschooling as opposed to the german teaching officer does not stand under control of the public - therefore indoctrination is certainly a lot easier.
You wouldn't want your children to eat something that has not been controlled by an organisation that stands in the bright light of the public - why would anybody want to have them taugth at home ?
Homeschooling is only appropriate in rural areas - or if the offered public education would just not be good enough as a base.
We can exclude both for germany. (Until today)
What do you expect for a group of people who ranted at the U.S. to stop using ball bearing ammuniton as being "uncivilized" while, at the same time, using Phosgene Gas against the Allies in WWI.
One of the DUMB myths believed by "suburbanites" in Nazi Jersey: "Oh, the schools in Newark are bad, but in my town they are 'blue ribbon!'
Most public schools in suburban areas of this state are mediocre at best, with dumbed down curriculum geared toward the lowest common denominator. When you try to be all things to all people, you ultimately must settle for the flaccid, middle course.
Public schools are nothing but socialism for the middle class. Hopefully, when Corzine gets the schools consolidated on a county level (which, if he wasn't in charge, would mean lower property taxes!), NJ parents would do the right thing and abandon the Socialist Day Care Centers en masse.
yawn... tell me news.
it's a normal thing for teachers to be a bit more on the left side. If a society can't counter that and convince a good percentage of grown ups otherwise - it would be poor.
I'm living in a democracy - I don't need to school my children in the cellar and protect them from people that don't share my favorite ideology - a little bit more self esteem please !
Do we really need to protect our children from multplie attitudes and lifestyles - do you really want to live in a dictatorship ?
Is the concept of conservativism , vigilance and economic deregulation really so week, that we cannot have the one or other lefty as a teacher ?
I hate to tell you this, but you're NOT living in a democracy if you're so threatened by your neighbor wanting to educate his child that you have to outlaw it, and try to give some lame excuse to justify your censorship. Perhaps you should worry less about self-esteem and more about common sense! You are the frog in the kettle who has no idea how hot the water is getting, and how fast the dictators are stirring the pot. Sehr schade!
In what way does the "very nature" of education require its regulation by the state?
Are there other areas of life that similarly call for state regulation? Or to put it differently (considering that this is Europe), is there anything that does not fall under the purview of the state?