Uwe and Hannalore Romeike and their children will have their day in court today – specifically the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals. That court will decide whether they can stay in this country to home school their children, or have to leave the United States. They fear that if they have to go back to Germany, they face arrest and imprisonment, and their children face removal to foster care, over their home schooling practices.
History of the Romeike family
Uwe and Hannalore Romeike took their children out of the German schools in 2006. Why? The textbooks told the tale. Bob Unruh at WNDsummed up in this article two years ago:
Lessons in explicit sex.
Promoting the occult and even open witchcraft.
Encouraging children to question authority figures.
That last is supremely ironic, in light of what would follow. Some authority figures seem more respectable than others.
Within weeks, German police entered the Romeike home and took the children away. They took them to the local public school and brought them back afterward. But they had no court order to do this. And when they tried it again next day, several neighbors protested, and the police walked away.
Nevertheless, $10,000 (US) in fines piled up for the Romeike family. The government then started proceedings to revoke their custody of their children and make them wards of the state.
In 2008 the Romeikes packed their bags and came to the United States. They applied for political asylum.
In 2010, Immigration Judge Lawrence Burman granted the asylum. But the Immigration and Customs Enforcement service appealed. The Board of Immigration Appeals reversed Burman and ordered the Romeikes back to Germany. They then appealed to the Sixth Circuit.
Today their case comes to that court for oral argument.
Judge Burman, in his decision, called the German policy “utterly repellant to everything we believe in as Americans.” The Boston College International and Comparative Law Review seems to agree. In fact, they invoke UN guidelines for refugees to say the Board of Immigration Appeals erred in deciding to deport the Romeikes.
German law in dispute
Education reform might mean doing it ourselves
Most articlesabout the Romeike case, published in America and abroad, say that home schooling is illegal in Germany. A current resident of Germany disputes that. Fergus Mason (whom regular readers of the CNAV comment space will surely recognize) says anyone can home school his children in Germany, if that person has:
A degree in pedagogy, and
Separate degrees in every subject he or she wishes to teach.
In other words, only those who qualify to teach other people’s children may teach their own, if they wish.
And why not? Mason says the people of Germany have decided that a parent’s right to bring up his children as he sees fit, must yield before a child’s right to receive the education he will need to function as an adult in the modern world.
CNAV wishes to challenge Mr. Mason (he is a British expatriate, hence the use of Mr. and not Herr here) to defend how lessons in explicit sex, witchcraft, and questioning of authority figures helps a child function as an adult in the modern world.
The Mail Online guesses that 200 families home school their children in Germany today. They risk arrest, fines, imprisonment, and loss of custody by so acting. The Mail also cites Michael Farris, head of the Home School Legal Defense Association, to describe a ruling by the German Supreme Court in the Romeike case:
The German Supreme Court has ruled that it wants to “counteract the development of religious and philosophically motivated parallel societies,” Farris explained. “And that’s a direct quote.”
That quote makes it a First Amendment issue.
A contributor to the site Patheos offers another defense of the German position. At issue, she says, is a “shared experience.” She also suggests all that Uwe Romeike need do is take his family into France or Switzerland or Austria, where, she says, home schooling is legal. (Evidently the “qualification of teachers” distinction makes no difference even to this opponent of the Romeikes.) First of all, immigration to Switzerland is more than a trifle difficult. Second, no one can yet independently confirm that authorities in France or Austria would be any more friendly to a devoutly Christian family than Germany seems to be.
In fact the Romeike family are not the only family to run afoul of German law. Authorities once took 15-year-old Melissa Busekros out of her home and had psychiatrists examine her for “school phobia.” She is now a ward of the German state and may see her parents for only an hour a week.
At least Uwe Romeike left Germany before that could happen to any of his children. But if the Busekros case is any indicator, that’s what awaits him if he sets foot in Germany again.