US grants German homeschoolers asylum. Will others follow?
A US judge granted German homeschoolers asylum in January after ruling they faced persecution in Germany, where the practice is punishable with fines or imprisonment. The US Home School Legal Defense Association says other German families are exploring political asylum in the US.
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“Our Christian faith influences our whole view of family life, and of course, doing Christian home education was an opportunity to pass on what you think is important, the essence of our Christian values,” he says. “Our main motivation was the quality of the education and the school.”Skip to next paragraph
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Romeike, who could not speak with the Monitor because of an agreement with a German TV network, has charged that German schools are anti-Christian.
Insult to Germany?
The official German reaction to the decision was muted. The German Consulate in Atlanta released a statement that parents in Germany have a broad range of educational options and that mandatory attendance guarantees high standards.
But German media have portrayed the case as an insult to the German system. Many Germans are shocked to learn that 1.5 million children in the US are homeschooled and that the practice is legal in countries like France, Italy, and Ireland.
Advocates of homeschooling argue that German compulsory attendance laws were a product of the Nazi government. But they have been around since the 19th century. The Weimar Republic passed such laws in 1919, and after World War II, similar laws – upheld by the European Court of Human Rights – were added to the Constitution.
The German government says the practice guarantees all students a basic level of education taught by certified teachers. It also wants to prevent the growth of “parallel” societies. As the number of Turkish immigrants increases, for example, many Turkish children are not taught German at home. As these children mature, the reasoning goes, they will form a German-Turkish society and not fully integrate.
Read why German public schools now teach Islam.
Meanwhile, there is no political support to alter compulsory attendance laws – or to allow homeschooling. It is also uncertain if the political asylum ruling will stand. The US may appeal the decision, handed down Jan. 27.
Temple’s Spiro says he believes the claim will be overturned. “It‘s pretty clear that requiring children to attend school outside of the home qualifies as a legitimate social policy,” he says. “The Germans are alarmed by this [ruling], but they can have some level of confidence that the decision won’t stand.”
*The original version of this story did not include the NCES statistic that 83 percent of homeschoolers cite religious or moral factors as one of the reasons they choose to homeschool.