Romeike family to defend home schooling

Parents, take note: Attacks on liberty in our schools - common Core and other global initiatives put a worm into this apple, producing students who do not think. Here's another worm: when teachers take a prey from among their own students. Not to mention a teacher who prostitutes herself to a corrupt seller of offices. Or an anti-bullying campaign that pulls a cruel humanitarian hoax by replacing one kind of bullying with another.
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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 WND summed 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

The Romeike family challenge the idea that their children are not their own.

Education reform might mean doing it ourselves

Most articles about 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:

  1. A degree in pedagogy, and
  2. 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.

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Terry A. Hurlbut has been a student of politics, philosophy, and science for more than 35 years. He is a graduate of Yale College and has served as a physician-level laboratory administrator in a 250-bed community hospital. He also is a serious student of the Bible, is conversant in its two primary original languages, and has followed the creation-science movement closely since 1993.

11 Responses to Romeike family to defend home schooling

  1. Fergus Mason says:

    “lessons in explicit sex, witchcraft, and questioning of authority figures”

    The school curriculum teaches sex education. That is, it teaches how conception occurs and how birth control works. If the Romeikes don’t want to use birth control that’s fine, but they have no right to deny their children knowledge of it.

    The school system is secular. It does not promote any religion. It is constitutionally forbidden from doing so.

    There is a very good – and, I would have thought, obvious – reason why Germans are taught to question authority. Last time they DIDN’T question authority things didn’t work out so well…

    • Terry A. Hurlbut says:

      Fine as far as it goes. You deny, then, that the lessons in that textbook go beyond details of male and female reproductive anatomy. Uwe Romeike alleges those textbooks get into sexual practice. And if the textbooks in “their” district are not the same as in “your” district, then the “shared experience” argument flies out the window.

      Concerning questioning of authority: I gather, from Uwe Romeike’s complaint, that the textbooks call on children to question the authority of the father, but not the authority of the teacher or the state. Given the heavy hand of the state, and how heavily the state has applied that hand, I find any statement about “questioning authority” ironic in the extreme.

      And finally, you seem to deny the witchcraft allegation, too. So we deal here with “they said, you said.”

  2. James B says:

    Terry, Fergus is correct: the German law prohibiting home-schooling is essentially to stop Nazi and Stalinist groups setting up their own education system. A good idea, wouldn’t you say? How would you organise things so that Pentecostal Christians (or anyone: Sikhs, Shia Muslims, whoever) could have home-schooling but Nazis and Stalinists couldn’t?

    • Terry A. Hurlbut says:

      Maybe you can’t. Maybe, therefore, you can’t apply “prior restraint.” You can’t assume, as the Germans seem to do, that any “religious or political parallel group” must be violent in its intents or purposes.

      Besides: the Nazis came to power by convincing the electorate to vote them in. Stalin succeeded to Lenin, a fellow dictator – and he rode a popular wave of war-weariness. Both men made revolution, of course.

      And you fail to appreciate this irony: the current effective prohibition on home schooling in Germany is a leftover from the Nazi era. These are Nazi-era laws that the German state is enforcing.

      And: I put it to you that the de facto President of the United States, and his Attorney General, want the same things those German authorities say they want: a “shared experience,” in which all the kids learn the same things. Never mind that the things those kids learn will in large measure be wrong. Like the methodological and philosophical naturalism that its practitioners mis-call “science” today. Like the explicit atheism of Friedrich Nietzsche – and Karl Marx.

      And the other irony is: Barack Obama has surrounded himself with devotees and followers of Stalin, Mao, and other famous Communists.

      Uwe Romeike is in fact fighting a battle that affects us all. For what you have offered is an argument to subject home schooling in this country to the same “qualification rules” that Mr. Mason invoked and supports in Germany: that before you may teach your own children, you must qualify, and even be license-able, to teach the children of others. License-able, that is, according to the criteria of the atheism-collectivism axis.

  3. James B says:

    Actually, I live in Britain, where we deal with Nazis and Stalinists by laughing at how ridiculous they are. It seems to be more effective than ranting about them. Home-schooling is legal here but uncommon. It’s probably done more by hippie types than for religious reasons.

  4. 3of4 says:

    Actually, school attendance for all of germany was part of the Constitution of the Weimar Republic. Calling it a left over from the Nazi’s is just plan wrong and quite misleading. And school attendance laws were around for smaller parts of germany since the 17th century.

  5. Fergus Mason says:

    “You deny, then, that the lessons in that textbook go beyond details of male and female reproductive anatomy. Uwe Romeike alleges those textbooks get into sexual practice.”

    Except Uwe Romeike can’t remember what the textbook was called and is unable to produce an example of it.

    Sex is dealt with. Homosexuality is explained – there are a couple of million homosexuals in Germany, so it seems sensible for children to know what they are. Sex acts are NOT explained in an explicit way. Germans are assumed to be capable of working that out for themselves. The main aim is to make sure they know what birth control is.

    “And if the textbooks in “their” district are not the same as in “your” district, then the “shared experience” argument flies out the window.”

    Ah, no. School districts don’t work like that here – or, indeed, anywhere except the USA: Standards are consistent nationally.

    “the textbooks call on children to question the authority of the father, but not the authority of the teacher or the state.”

    Just authority in general. In fact that’s all about teaching the concept of the “legal order.” The perception is that the Nazis did so much because people followed orders unquestioningly. To counter that, people are taught to evaluate orders for legality before carrying them out. Order a German soldier to shoot prisoners, for example, and he is legally obliged to refuse. Order a German civilian to play loud music on a Sunday and she is legally obliged to refuse, too. THAT is what questioning authority is about: the question is, “Is authority exceeding its powers?”

    “And finally, you seem to deny the witchcraft allegation, too.”

    Depends. Am I denying that witchcraft was mentioned? No – it was a game played in class. Denying that witchcraft was taught as a religion? Yes. It can be, quite legally, but religious education is not a compulsory subject. I know; when I had stepchildren I withdrew them from it.

  6. Fergus Mason says:

    “before you may teach your own children, you must qualify, and even be license-able, to teach the children of others.”

    Yes, just the same as before you teach your children to drive you have to be a certified driving instructor and before you perform brain surgery on your children you must be a qualified brain surgeon in a properly certified operating theatre. If you’re doing something you’re not qualified to do the fact that your victims are your own relatives is no excuse.

    Children have rights, and one of those is to be educated by competent professionals. Parents also have rights, but those do NOT include blighting their children’s futures by denying them the education they need to get on in German society. If they want to give them extra classes after school that’s fine, but denying them education by qualified teachers is not.

    “License-able, that is, according to the criteria of the atheism-collectivism axis.”

    You mean the (centre-right) Christian Democratic Party?

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