Over the past year, we’ve heard Teh Won dismiss the notion of American exceptionalism as he went on his World Apology Tour, saying that the populations of every country believes it is exceptional. While this may appear true at some level on the surface, the fact is America, by design, is exceptional, and nowhere is this better displayed than in our people’s ability to homeschool America’s children, even as the statists seek more control over education.
In this country, America offers asylum to citizens of other countries whose governments persecute their people for speaking out against tyranny or outrages those governments inflict on their people. But it also seems that America grants asylum for citizens of foreign countries whose governments inflict lesser abuses, like the one in…
Uwe and Hannelore Romeike are not like other asylum seekers, people fleeing war or torture in places like Afghanistan, Iraq or Somalia. They’re music teachers from a village in southern Germany. And yet, in what appears to be the first case of its kind, the couple and their five children were granted asylum in the U.S. last week by an immigration judge who ruled that they had a “well-founded fear of persecution” in their home country for engaging in what has become a popular albeit somewhat controversial American practice — homeschooling their children.
The fact that this story appears in TIME magazine is simply amazing.
This is really quite a compelling story. According to the piece, the Romeikes are Evangelical Christians who were not at all happy with the way the German public school system was educating their children, especially with the way the curriculum being taught has left out more and more Christian values. It almost sounds like how the statists are wrecking education in this country. Fortunately, our laws still allow parents to do more than just leave the state to do the educating of their children, which in some cases is tantamount to dumping kids off at a state-run babysitting facility; the laws allow for parents to educate their own children.
‘Twas not the case for the Romeikes in their home country:
But here’s the problem: in Germany it’s compulsory for children to attend school, and the Romeikes soon found themselves on the wrong side of the law. Local authorities slapped the couple with a $10,000 fine, and police even took their children to school when the Romeikes refused to send them.
They also believed they might permanently lose custody of their kids or be thrown in jail for this “violation”. The piece goes on to mention that there are perhaps 500 and 1000 home-schooling German families who may be in the same position as the Romeikes. The article also says that parents can send their kids to private school, although it doesn’t say anything about whether or not the various levels of the German government provide financial assistance to those who would not be able to afford the costs of a private school education; it’s very likely that such costs might be beyond those like the Romeikes and other homeschooling families.
Naturally, the statists in Germany aren’t at all happy with the ruling. It’s stated that the current law in Germany requiring all kids between 6 and 16 to go to a school for their education dates back to the 18th Century when kings like Frederick II (The Great) had absolute rule over the nation of Prussia (Germany as a nation didn’t exist back then; Prussia in the 18th Century was one of two states, the other being the failing Holy Roman Empire [which itself consisted of many semi-autonomous states, especially in what is now Germany] under the control of the Austrian Habsburgs, that make up what is now Germany). The law is all about “the children”:
“Compulsory schooling is one of the greatest social achievements of our time,” Josef Kraus, head of the German Teachers’ Association, tells TIME. “This law protects children.”
Like a typical statist, Kraus warns home-schooling creates other issues:
He also argues that homeschooling deprives children of important social lessons. “No parental couple can offer a breadth of education and replace experienced teachers. Kids also lose contact with their peers,” he says.
Yet, as noted earlier in the piece, it seems the Romeikes have that covered:
The couple also joined a local group that organizes activities and field trips for homeschooled children in the area.
The TIME article concludes:
The ruling is sure to ignite passions on both sides of the debate — and may spur other parents around the world to follow the Romeikes’ lead. If this happens, the U.S. could see a flood of a new type of refugees —educational asylum seekers.
I think it goes beyond what is concluded in the piece. Take a look at the Romeikes: these Evangelical Christian parents left a nation whose government-run education system is eroding the Christian values the Romeikes want to teach their children.
The Romeikes wanted to bring up their kids in an environment that Constitutionally guarantees the religious freedom America provides, something not found in any other nation in the world. Many of those nations claim a supposed principle that includes a right to free religious expression; but in practice, this “right” includes so many regulations as to be self-defeating. If we are to take the TIME piece as gospel (and I would caution anyone about doing this, especially since I’m only discussing one article), the religious freedoms guaranteed here allow parents to ensure the values they want to impart are not subverted by state-run education systems.
We know the Obama administration is all about increasing state control over much of the country, something along the lines, and perhaps even further, than what is going on in Germany, and much of Europe as well. Fortunately, homeschooling isn’t just a fad in this country; as noted in the piece, about 2 million American children are homeschooled, a minority that isn’t insignificant. The reasons aren’t just due to the seemingly irreligious values being foisted upon America’s children in the public education system; also mentioned in the article, empirical evidence shows that homeschooled kids do better on standardized tests, a factor that many parents must have considered as a reason for teaching their kids themselves.
It is ironic that one of the reasons people came to North America from Europe, especially 17th Century England, had to do with escaping religious persecution, and now we’re seeing this come full circle as the Romeikes have immigrated to America for a very similar reason. I’m glad the U.S. still grants asylum to those who still seek to worship God, which extends to how their children are being educated, as they see fit, even if the persecution isn’t as punitive as it used to be. Persecution is still persecution, and the Romeikes looked like they could have been as criminally liable as someone who commits theft or murder. Their “crime”? Homeschooling their children.
It’ll be interesting if some kind of religious revival takes hold in Europe and leads others down the path the Romeikes took. Keep your eyes open.
(Hat tip: Lucianne.com)