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.
Parents have a right to freely choose their own educational options for their children, whether the parents are muslim or Christian or anything else.
In the United States we usually have the homeschool parents meeting basic curricular guidelines so there are some standards which allow home-schooled children to successfully meet standardized achievement tests and college entrance requirements.
Speaking as a former public school teacher who also worked with home-schooled children, the home-schooled children I know are, without exception, more articulate, polite, intelligent, and self-assured than their public school counterparts.
This is an excerpt from the UN Charter on the Rights of the Child.
Clintoon would have signed it if the Congress had ratified it.
Thankfully, there were enough conservatives in the Senate to prevent the 66/100 supermajority required. However, there were more than 50 senators voting FOR it.
Among other goodies in the UN Charter on the Rights of the Child is the right to "free association" and "free access to information."
Let your mind conjure the most looney left definitions of these concepts and that's what they mean to the UN drafters of this document, and to the pie-eyed American senators who would ratify it.
DON'T LET THE DONKEYS GET CONTROL, OR THIS UN CHARTER WILL BECOME A TREATY THAT SUPERCEDES THE US CONSTITUTION!!!!
One message here is that the Germans of all people have more civilized cops than we do. No 2:00AM forced entry, no black terrorist garb, no submachineguns, and they even hit the right house on the first try!
I took my wife out to lunch and ironically she started to tell me about a parent she deals with that is homeschooling her child. She told me the parent has been keeping every single piece of work that the child has done since 8th grade so that when her child goes to college, she will be ready to prove that the child has done the work. She said virtually all the parents she deals with are VERY serious about their children's education.
I do concede that such parents may exist (in some cases it might be because the child is going to be, literally, a truck driver like daddy, and that is not the worst thing in the world).
You know... I must apologize which is something I rarely do on this forum but it has been known to happen. When I made my earlier statement it wasn't to "bad mouth" home schooling at all. I "felt" I needed to point out that when children get left behind in home schooling it can be pretty bad. The reason I "felt" I had to say it was because... all I ever hear every night from my wife was her complaints about two home schooled children she deals with. However... she fails to talk much about the others... which she told me today that they are wonderful kids. It seems... when one hears so much of the bad news... one never gets the good news.
Now you noticed I put the word "felt" in the last paragraph in quotations to point out that I was "feeling" instead if "thinking". I am currently kicking myself in the head for such a stupid mistake. I am very sorry for that as well.
Certainly some, indeed very many of the student victims of gummint skeweling cannot do even the simplet math problems for their age and they have, ummmm, some verrrrry substantial serious social issues seldom found among homeschoolers. I, for one, propose that we recognize that by abolishing gummint skewels and the tax-financing that they enjoy so that their often incompetent and/or malevolent teachers and administrators can live like kings and queens at our expense regardless of their results. Note, in case you or your spouse or your kid is a gummint skewel teacher that I said often and not always.
Homeschooling is usually best. If not possible, the parents need to establish their own schools. Never seek or accept one nickel in government subsidy or the strings will strangle your kids.
As the wonderful homeschooling FReeper Tontokowalski once posted, his homeschooled chldren are easily "socialized" in the public school way by him taking them to the bathroom at home and beating them up for their lunch money every day.
You may prefer public schools and that is your business. I don't and that is mine. You should not have to fund my ideas. I should not have to fund yours. When my kids have kids, they can decide for their children. The SCOTUS, as long ago as 1927, in Pierce vs. Society of Sisters, decided that parents are constitutionally entitled to make educational decisions for their minor children within reasonable boundaries. More recently, SCOTUS decided in a case involving the Amish, that they could, as a matter of religious freedom ignore state mandatory schooling laws to the extent that they purported to govern Amish kids over 12 years old.
In the USA, there are many diocesan school systems in which diocesan superintendents (collectively known as Sister Krupskaya Pantsuit) are now expecting the teachers to be homogenized into teacher "certification" (by gummint and NEA "standards") so that they understand their unholy mission to corrupt the kids.
Why am I as a conservative, much less as a Catholic, to be concerned about whether the "welfare state" is burdened by actual Catholic education for my kids, whether homeschooling or parent-controlled actually Catholic schools???? The welfare state and the public school system ought both to be eliminated according to the standards of a Ludwig von Mises or Friedrich von Hayek or other free marketeer theoreticians and scholars never taught in PS 666.
My eldest daughter had very high ACT scores and was solicited by Ivy League University of Pennsylvania but prefers to be a nurse. My second is a semi-finalist for a National Merit scholarship and has never set foot in a public school except to watch sporting events but is credibly considering Yale, Harvard and Johns Hopkins as a science major. She can go to such schools because her faith is knowledgeable and secure. They won't shake her. My third daughter is studying Saxon Math and Latin and twelve novels this year in English lit class and theology and a lot more at twelve years of age and plays competitive team sports like volleyball, softball and basketball at a parent created and run non-diocesan school that is quite Catholic in orientation.
Better that Notre Dame Cathedral and Chartres cathedral and anything left at Avignon and every other cathedral fall to the ground in ruins than that a single child go to hell because of evil excuses for schooling and the moral ignorance induced thereby.
It is a no brainer that this law must go. Nazi legacies live on in the most bizarre way and they always target Christian and Jewish people of faith.
Child "slavery" laws I understand (along with physical abuse, etc.), but why do children need to be protected from homeschooling? Are not parents the first and most important teachers of their own children?
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.
If a particular class of immigrant poses a threat to your country and what should be the freedoms of it's citizens (though these "freedoms" appear to currently be very deficient), why do you and your country permit them to immigrate to begin with?
What exactly is "Saxon Math";)
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