Guest Post: Tilting at Windmills…A German Homeschooling Mom Talks About Challenges Under Nazi Laws
“Let’s assess the position of the United States government on the face of its argument: a nation violates no one’s rights if it bans homeschooling entirely. There are two major portions of constitutional rights of citizens – fundamental liberties and equal protection.There is no fundamental liberty to homeschool. So long as a government bans homeschooling broadly and equally, there is no violation of your rights.”
Eric Holder, United States Attorney General
One of my Twitter followers is a homeschooling (or unschooling) mom in Germany, where homeschooling is illegal. In the wake of Eric Holder’s ridiculous assertions that banning homeschooling wouldn’t violate anyone’s rights, I wanted to share her story with you. She is not a native English speaker, so I have edited a bit but tried to keep her words and their impact intact for you.
My name is Lucia. I’m a mother of two little girls (2 and 4) and my husband and I are “unschooling” them.
So far, so good. If there wasn’t one little fact interfering with our plans to keep them out of school: We live in Germany!
Homeschooling is considered child maltreatment, and therefore homeschoolers are being prosecuted and threatened with losing custody of their children. In the federal states of Hamburg and Hesse, homeschooling parents can even be sent to prison.
The law that legitimates German government to infringe on the parents’ right to freely choose their children’s education was passed in 1938 by Adolf Hitler and his Nazi party. Before this law was passed, homeschooling had been a legitimate alternative to the school system.
(Note: the law, called “Reichsschulgesetz” from 1938, can be viewed in English here. Some of the German did not translate well, but you can get the gist. I also want to share with you the first statute of the law, which gives you a basic idea of the implications of these types of laws. This one was obviously written by the Nazi party. Will it happen here in America?)
Compulsory Education: The German Reich is (requires?) compulsory education. It ensures the education and training of German youth in the spirit of National Socialism.
It is almost tragic that when I tell people living outside of Germany, especially Americans, about this current situation. They just can’t believe how such obsolete laws can still exist in a modern country like Germany, which is widely considered to be a “free” country.
Politicians have even been discussing laws which would force parents to send their kids to a nursery at the age of 3.
At this moment, the homeschooling community in Germany is slightly growing. Although most families are forced to flee their home country, some try to get along with German authorities and just keep their kids out of school after they turn 6. The Romeike family was even granted asylum in the U.S. in January 2010 because of political prosecution.
(Note: The U.S. wants to revoke asylum and deport the Romeikes. Read about that here.)
In 2012, the Pirate Party of Germany put “Homeschooling” onto their agenda to be the first German party ever planning to abolish the law of “compulsory school attendance”. In November 2012, the Global Home Education Conference was held in Berlin, giving hope to hundreds of German families.
Little steps into the right direction, but not enough in my opinion. The majority of Germans still believe it necessary for children to attend school in order to get educated and government to take care of it.
The mainstream media is doing a “great” job portraying homeschoolers as religious fanatics who want to lock their kids away and keep them in a parallel society. They don’t seem to understand that even if there may be some extremely religious families among homeschoolers, the vast majority of them just want to allow their children to grow up freely and learn at their pace in order to pursue their interests.
So what can we do? Our family would love to stay in Germany and keep unschooling. Thanks to the internet it is now possible to easily connect with other homeschoolers, plan meetings and conventions and try to spread the word of liberty through blogs and magazines like the German “unerzogen” magazine.
Still, at this point it seems like we’re tilting at windmills.
“The United States Supreme Court has made it very clear in the past that religious freedom is an individual right. Yet our current government does not seem to understand this. They only think of us as members of groups and factions. It is an extreme form of identity politics that directly threatens any understanding of individual liberty.”
Mike Farris, Homeschool Legal Defense Association