Tuesday, May 7, 2013
The Romeike Homeschool Case
If you don't want to read the article, the upshot of it is: there is a German family who is seeking asylum in the United States, because they are being persecuted in Germany for choosing to homeschool their children. Persecuted, as in, the government is fining them, threatening to take their children away, and threatening them with jail. And the United States is on the verge of deporting this family back to Germany, except there is now a lawsuit underway. There are two disturbing things about this case I want to comment on.
The first is that Germany outlaws homeschooling in most cases because it wants to "counteract the development of religious and philosophically motivated parallel societies.”
I knew that Germany did not allow homeschooling, but I did not know the official reason until reading this article. And I think their reason sucks! Basically, they are trying to ensure a religious and philosophical monoculture. They want to prevent people who do not agree with the script the elites in the government have decided is the "right one" from gaining a voice in society. But we know in every other field of life that diversity is healthy. In an ecosystem, in a garden, in a diet, and... in society. Having people who believe different things from each other is a GOOD THING! Having quirky people is a sign of a healthy society. Having political and philosophical arguments is a sign of a robust, engaged community. A balance of powers is the only way to ensure freedom from tyranny.
I do not agree with this couple's religious beliefs, and I think they are a bit paranoid when they say that they want to homeschool because the German public schools teach witchcraft and devil-worship. Right. Pretty sure that's not happening. But still. If they want to homeschool, they should be able to.
The second disturbing point is that the United States Attorney General actually argues that homeschooling is not "a right" for parents. I find this appalling. Extenuating circumstances forbidding, parents are biologically wired to want to care for their children. Parents are in-touch with the personalities, needs, and conditions of their children, and they care more than anyone else could. (Again, there are exceptions, due to some people being sadly messed up by the traumas of this life, but biologically speaking, it is pretty hard-wired into parents to connect with their children.) Who better to understand the child than the parent, who (in most families) shares the child's very DNA? It is in the best interest of the child to protect the parents' rights to raise the child as they feel is best. (Keeping with some minimum standards, of course.)
I don't worry about public schools on a religious and philosophical level so much. Myself, I'm considering homeschooling my kids, not because of the CONTENT of the public school curriculum so much as the METHODS and the ENVIRONMENT of public schools. I disagree with the commonly used punitive approach to discipline. I disagree with the ugly aesthetics. I want to limit my child's screen time until he's older. I am concerned about my impressionable 5-year-old being exposed to a slew of cultural messages from his peers that I disagree with. (Patriarchy, narcissism, consumerism, xenophobia, and so on.) If I lived in Germany, I would tell the government (not that they would listen), "I will teach my child close to the same religious and philosophical content you use in your schools. But I will do it in a way that makes sense emotionally for my child. Butt out."
Please sign this petition if you believe that the US government should not set a precedent of aligning against parental rights to educate their children as they see fit.