By Kevin Stoda, Wiesbaden

This week a U.S. Court granted a German family from Hessen the right to asylum in the USA.  The family had fled Germany two years ago under threat of jailing and separation of parents from their children in the name of a school law that undermines the freedom of

The Washington Post noted Tuesday, “The decision clears the way for Uwe Romeike (roh-MY-kee), his wife and five children to stay in Morristown, Tenn., where they have been living since 2008. Romeike says his family was persecuted for their evangelical Christian beliefs and for homeschooling their children in Germany, where school attendance is compulsory. When the Romeikes wouldn’t comply with repeated orders to send the children to school, police came to their home one October morning in 2006 and took the children to school. German state constitutions require children to attend public or private schools and parents can face fines or prison time if they don’t comply.”

The Washington Post also reported, “In November 2007, Germany’s highest appellate court ruled that, in severe cases, social services officials could remove children from their parents. After that decision, Romeike said, ‘We knew we had to leave the country.’”

I had written about the issue of homeschooling in Germany—NICHT ERLAUBT [NOT ALLOWED]—a year ago.  I have sometimes wondered since if my advocacy for allowing homeschooling here was one reason that my wife’s visa here was denied twice in the past year.

You see, there is a lot of bullying in German schools and it has carried over to administrations of civil servants in Germany and firms, too.  I reported on one mobbing case with tax officials in an article earlier today.

On German radio yesterday and today, I have heard discussions on the U.S. court’s decision supporting the claim of the Romeikes to take asylum in the USA.  The discussants noted that the claim to homeschooling was tied to the Romeike family’s desire for religious guidance in education and the right of parents to raise their children in a less consumerist and competitive environment.  In short, there is too much peer pressure verging on bullying in some schools.  The Romeike’s wanted their children to be able to stand up to those pressures in society and become more like their parents, i.e. with their religious preferences being passed on to their children. In order to do this, they felt the need to incubate (educate) their brood longer within the household than German school laws allow.

The UK newspapers share: “Christians Uwe Romeike, a piano teacher, and his wife, Hannelore, moved to Morristown, Tennessee, in 2008 after ­German authorities fined them thousands of euros for keeping their children out of school and sent police to escort them to classes, Romeike said. They had been holding classes in their home.”

According to THE GUARDIAN: “In 2006 the Romeikes pulled their children out of a state school in Bissingen, Germany, in protest of what they deemed an anti-Christian curriculum.”

According to that same newspaper, “’Home schoolers in Germany are a particular social group, which is one of the protected grounds under the asylum law,’ said Mike Connelly, attorney for the Home School Legal Defence Association, who argued the case. ‘This judge looked at the evidence, he heard their testimony, and he felt that the way Germany is treating home schoolers is wrong. The rights being violated here are basic human rights.’”

Connelly noted that this is the first time ever that home schooling has been an issue in an asylum case in the USA.  “Along with thousands of torture victims, political dissidents, members of religious minorities and other persecuted groups who win political asylum every year, the Romeike family will now be free to live and work in the US. The case does not create a legal precedent unless the US government appeals and a higher immigration court hears the case.”

Only the FDP (liberal party) in German seems to be currently for legal home schooling in Germany.  There are fears that many Islamic families would try to home school their children if such a law came into effect.

The Romeikes indicated, “They said textbooks presented ideas and language that conflicted with their Christian beliefs, including slang terms for sex acts and images of vampires and witches, while the school offered what they described as ethics lessons from Islam, Buddhism and other religions. The eldest son got into fights in school and the eldest daughter had trouble studying.”

About eslkevin

I am a peace educator who has taken time to teach and work in countries such as the USA, Germany, Japan, Nicaragua, Mexico, the UAE, Kuwait, Oman over the past 4 decades.
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