Who educates your children?

Imagine the police turning up at your home and taking away your children because you choose to home school your kids instead of sending them to the local school?

Sounds crazy doesn’t it, but that happened in Germany not so long ago because, in Germany, parents don’t seem to have a choice to home school their children.

You can read here in an article from The Economist about that family; Christians who fled to America in 2008, seeking asylum on the grounds that, if they returned to Germany, their children face (again) being taken to school by force.

(In 2006, at their home in Baden-Wurttemburg, the youngsters wept as they were driven away in a police van.  The next morning supporters showed up and officials backed off).

But winning the right to settle in the US hasn’t been easy for Uwe Romeike, his wife Hannelore and their seven children.  There have been numerous court cases along with orders to expel the family from Morristown, Tennessee.

The town of 30,000 people has rallied around the family and vowed to hide them from officials, but it now appears the Romeike’s can stay.

Last month, the Supreme Court declined to hear a final appeal against the Romeikes’ expulsion, meaning victory for the US government which had rejected the family’s claims to be refugees from religious and social persecution.  But just a day later officials put the family’s deportation on indefinite hold, thereby allowing them to stay without settling a legal precedent.

I wouldn’t home school my four children, but I understand why people do, and strongly support them having that right (you can read here a story I wrote about an Australian home schooling family).

So why all the fuss?  Why aren’t parents in Germany able to home school their children?

It seems there is a concern about avoiding closed-off “parallel societies”.  Germany’s highest court calls schools the best place to bring together children of different beliefs and values, in the name of “lived tolerance”.

Surely parents should decide what is best for their children.  Yes there are bad parents, and the state must intervene when children’s lives and well-being are at risk, but denying parents the right to educate their own children is excessive and wrong.   Certainly no example of “lived tolerance”.