I have longed for thy salvation, O L-RD; and thy Torah is my delight. Let my soul live, and it shall praise thee; and let thy judgments help me. I have gone astray like a lost sheep; seek thy servant; for I do not forget thy commandments. Psalm 119:174-176

28 September 2013

German Homeschooling case - The Russian-Baptists

Tree near the Odenwald - Photo by A. Stahl

One of the recurring themes that I keep finding in my research on home educators in Germany, is that many of them happen to be Russian Baptists. From what I can gather, their beliefs are much along those of the Independent Fundamentalist Baptist Church. There are, of course, some Southern Baptists in the mix.  (source 1, source 2, source 3, source 4, source 5, source 6, source 7, source 8)

Apparently included in this group, are the Romeike, Rudolph and Dudek families.
In fact, hundreds of children are not allowed by their parents to attend school in this country. In Baden-Württemberg alone are 60 cases... and the "Philadelphia School" in Siegen, which is powered by its own account nationwide and not recognized by the German state  has around 300 children under its school umbrella. Most religious parents... are convinced that educators are a morally deleterious influence on their little charges - especially in matters of reproduction.
2003, Der Spiegel: Pauken in der guten Stube [Timpani in the parlor]

  Many in Germany who rebel against compulsory school are fundamentalist Christians who are primarily disturbed that sex education and evolution are taught in state schools. About 400 families in Germany oppose compulsory education on religious grounds.. and this includes the "Twelve Tribes"...
Compulsory education has been mandatory since the German Weimar Republic and with it the state curriculum to which all schools, including private schools must abide. German children spend at the very least, nine years in school, and stay at least until they are eighteen when compulsory education ends.
December 2004: Der Spiegel: Flucht ins Exotische [Escape to the exotic]

The violation of  compulsory education is a legal offense, which is punishable under Article 119 paragraph 1 No. 2 BayEUG with a fine. Article 118 paragraph 1 No. 2 provides that the district administration authority may carry the compulsory school-age children to school by their agents [the police]. To carry this out, the school officers...  may enter homes, places of business and ... exercise direct coercion. The fundamental rights to physical integrity, liberty and inviolability of the home are thus limited.
2005: Schulboykott aus Gewissensgründen [School boycott on conscientious grounds]

Schneider decided to distance from "illegal small schools...." In the BEFG, the largest free church, Baptists see themselves as "an integral part of society."
Representatives belonging to BEFG Baptist churches in Paderborn and Detmold are also separating themselves from the truants. "If individual parents violated the compulsory education, it should be understood that this is against Baptist doctrine," said Pastor Maik Berghaus (Detmold). BEFG communities adhere "to the principles of the rule of law," said community officer Robin Malloy (Paderborn).
2005: BEFG distanziert sich vom Schulboykott baptistischer Aussiedler [The Federation of Evangelical Free Churches Kdö.R. (BEFG) distanced themselves from the school boycotting Baptist emigrants]

 In Paderborn, members of the Baptist faith community have kept their children out of compulsory school for months. In December, the county had imposed fines [250€] in seven cases...
These parents, relying heavily on their religious faith, have contientiously objected to religious and sex education in their children's school. In their opinion, sex is spoken of too freely in primary school - they therefore want to teach their children at home; relying on material from remote schools that are not offically recognized by the German government.
January 2005: Der Spiegel:  Schulboykott: Baptisten nehmen Kinder aus der Grundschule
[School boycott: Baptists take children out of primary school]

 First, there were two devout Baptist families who registered their families with the authorities in Austria, then more applications came into Belgian and Austrian authorities from four other families. In these countries, there exists a teaching, but non-compulsory school law as in Germany. A total of seven pairs of parents from the Paderborn area have refused to send their children to elementary school for religious reasons since 15 October [2004].
 August 2005: Der Spiegel: Schulboykott: Baptisten melden Kinder im Ausland an
[School boycott: Baptists move their children abroad]

 After warnings, fines and the threat to remove children from parental custody; the seven pairs of parents would not change their minds. Now the endless controversy over the religious truants seems finished. The parents agreed to a visit to another school in Heidelberg...
The first couple had removed their children from school in October 2003, and several couples followed after in September 2004.
 August 2005: Der Spiegel:  Paderborner Schulboykotteure: Baptisten flüchten in den Süden
[Paderborn school boycotters: Baptists flee to the south]

 The problem with the loss of custody: children should only be removed from a family, if they are neglected, or abused physically or psychologically. ...Nevertheless, several courts have found that the behavior of parents - with all the good will - is deeply harmful to their children. 
2006: Christliche Schulverweigerer: Die Geduld ist erschöpft [Christian truants: Patience is exhausted]

The parents concerned appealed to the court for their fundamental rights...
They argued that religious education is not ensured in public school, and their children would be taught to be humanists instead of loving God, be subject to the government... and not be allowed to question authority. Instead of modesty, they would begin learning about reproduction and sex as early as the second grade... instead of chastity they would prematurely exposed to discourse on and the practice of sex.
Instead of school being a place to warn against witchcraft, stories were recommended where individuals practiced esoteric beliefs or one would be encouraged to paint mandalas. Instead of creation, they would teach evolutionary theory as proven science...
2007: VG Stuttgart: Keine Befreiung von der Schulpflicht aus christlichen Gründen[VG Stuttgart: No exemption from compulsory education from Christian reasons ]

 Last week, a court in Paderborn in the German state of Westphalia ruled that two Baptist couples lose their parental authority over their own children in educational matters. The court said it was interfering “in order to protect the children from further harm.” It stated that the parents had shown “a stubborn contempt both for the state’s educational duty as well as the right of their children to develop their personalities by attending school.” The court appointed the local Paderborn social service as guardian over the children to ensure that they attend public school.
2007: Hitler’s Ghost Haunts German Parents by Alexandra Colen

 The judge ruled... that religious motives do not justify an exemption from the general and compulsory primary education. The teaching and educational mission of the public schools encompasses not only the knowledge but also the education of children to become "self-reliant members of society."
2007: NGO: Keine Befreiung von Schulpflicht aus religiösen Gründen [No exemption from compulsory schooling for religious reasons]

 The Administrative Court also has refused the application submitted by the approval of Bible-believing Christians... of a "Christian elementary and secondary school" in Windischenbach. The court said that the school did not have an adequate amount of teachers and skills. The plaintiffs may appeal the judgement with the Administrative Court of Baden-Wuerttemberg
2007: Religiöse Schulverweigerer unterliegen vor Gericht [Religious parents who pulled children from school stand before the courts]

 ...the parents registered their children in an Austrian village where - the mother who is not trained as a teacher - has since begun schooling the children at home. The Supreme Court alleged that the nurse had apparently proved inadequate to address the risks to the children's welfare effectively. ...  The courts decision still weighs heavy on this family as they have maintained their home in Germany.
2007: Glaube befreit nicht von Schulpflicht  [Religious grounds do not exempt from compulsory education]

Integration presupposes that religious or ideological minorities are not able to distance themselves or completely close off dialogue with others who believe differently. Is an important task of elementary school therefore to practice such "working tolerance"..
2007: Deutsches Bundesgericht: Sorgerechtsentzug bei religiös motivierter Schulverweigerung
[German Federal Court: loss of custody in religiously motivated school refusal]

The city of Paderborn argued the Paderborn Court has expressly declared in its judgment, the departure of the parents with their children was always possible. The Court is upholding the case of the Bavarian Higher Regional Court in 1985. The city had simply met the requirements of the Paderborn judge and Constitutional Court in Karlsruhe with respect to the withdrawal of custody rights for parents. "The city has proposed from the beginning, the Baptist parents wish to escape custody," said Paderborn Youth Councillor Walter Wolfgang.
2007: Religiöse Schulverweigerung - Sorgerechtsentzug möglich  [Religious truants - possible loss of custody]

  The general public has a legitimate interest in counteracting the formation of religious or ideological motivated parallel societies and to integrate minorities. The repatriated family belongs to a community of "Gospel-believing Christian Baptists".
2007: Gericht verbietet Hausunterricht [Court forbids homeschooling]

...The persistent refusal of parents to send their children to public elementary school or an approved alternative school, ...(prepared according to the Federal Court of Justice) ... is an abuse of parental authority. Therefore, parents are not entitled to withdraw their children out of compulsory education if lessons or methods in the school are contrary to their individual beliefs. This applies at least as long as the government responsibly fulfills its educational mission within the meaning of the Basic Law.

2007: Schulverweigerung: Paderborner Baptisten verlieren vor Bundesgerichtshof[Truancy: Paderborn Baptists lose before Federal Court]

  A conflict between freedom of religion and parental rights on the one hand and the state educational mission on the other hand could not warrant a general denial of school attendance, was the Court of Appeal. 
2008: Schulpflicht: Bußgeld gegen streng religiöse Eltern [Compulsory education: fine against fundamentalist parents]  
You can find the 2008 Court Decision here
and here

 Finally, the Federal Administrative Court stressed in a similar case in mid-October, that the parental rights do not entitle a state-regulated domestic education. Compulsory education is top priority with the State. (case 6 B 27.09).
2009: Christliche Familie: Schulverweigerer kommen mit geringer Geldstrafe davon [Christian family: truants come off with low fines]

 Dissatisfied parents can possibly start a private school but need state recognition. Parents whose children - for whatever reason - can be easily taught at home, are liable to prosecution...
Behind the compulsory education is "the idea that the collective learning in school builds social skills," says Martina Elschenbroich, school law expert of the Standing Conference of the Ministers of Education and Cultural Affairs of the Länder in the Federal Republic of Germany...
2010: Asyl für Schulverweigerer: Fundi-Christen feiern Sieg über "peinliches Deutschland"
[Asylum for truants: fundamentalist Christians celebrate victory over "Torturesome Germany"]

Now they have been sentenced to 14 and 40 days, "Erzwingungshaft" [coercive detention] which they must serve in prison Hamm, Westphalia. The families concerned are shocked.
2011: Deutschland: Baptisten inhaftiert [Germany: Baptists detained]

It seems to me that the courts have this tied in a neat little bow.

German Homeschooling Cases - What do Germans think? What sort of political lobbying is going on?

Hydrangeas - Photo by A. Stahl

One of the things I get asked quite frequently is "What do those living in Germany think about parents who want to teach their children at home?" and "Is there as much hype in Germany about these cases like what we're hearing in the US?" which is quickly followed by, "Is it just not in your news?"

I'd like to try to share some of what I have seen and heard in response to those questions.

Germany has a completely different traditioncompulsory education - which was introduced in Prussia almost 300 years ago, and applies to all children from the age of six forwards. Parents who disagree with the curriculum, may establish a private school if need be, as the state requirements for this are quite strict. Those who choose to teach their children at home do so illegally.
Spiegel:  Homeschooling: Bibel-Lehre statt Sexualkunde 
[Homeschooling: Teaching the Bible instead of sex education]
 The German laws mandating public-school attendance date back to Germany's first experiment with democracy in 1919, according to Hans Bruegelmann, an education professor at the University of Siegen.
...previously private education was only available to the elite, and that the public-school mandate was a clear political choice.
" is an embryonic democracy and will help to integrate children and young people coming from different backgrounds into the democratic culture," ...
US judge grants German homeschooling family asylum
 "At home, children only experience one segment of society, where they live, learn and grow up. They don't get to see the broad spectrum, which our young citizens need to be exposed to," said Bunselmeister-Lohr.
 More Families in Rural Areas Opting for Illegal Home Schooling
 I do not think that Germany should allow homeschooling. We already have a huge problem here with immigrants ...especially women and children -- being kept at home by their male relatives due to religion and cultures that they have brought with them and therefore those women and children cannot speak basic German and know virtually nothing of their rights or obligations in Germany.
Anti-Americanism, Homeschooling and Happy Housewives
 We are a family from Germany now living in New Zealand because we had to leave our country because of homeschooling...
In Germany we felt ...persecuted the German government is not interested in Christian education anymore. We did homeschooling in Germany in a bilingual way so the children had no difficulties to move into an English speaking country. They passed the tests at a homeschool cooperated school very well, as well as all other native speakers. in New Zealand ...children are far more accepted in the society than in Germany. -- Laurien Family, NZ
Readers' Mixed Feelings About Germany's Homeschooling Ban
 Parents have to take care that their children attend classes. If the parents fail to push their children to participate in the lessons, they are actively violating compulsory education laws...
Sohn schwänzte Schule: Mutter muss sechs Monate ins Gefängnis
skipped school: mother has six months in jail]

Home-schooling fuels a heated debate in Germany. Families in favour of home-schooling say they are persecuted without cause. Critics point to the extreme religious views of some home-schoolers and question the safety of allowing children be educated without state oversight.
'We have the power to take your kids away'
 "What I could imagine is for homeschooling to be allowed within narrow parameters, with students being frequently tested by authorities," said Heinz-Peter Meidinger, head of the Deutsche Philologenverband, an association of German high school teachers. "What I would not welcome is when such students are the rule and not the exception."
German Parents Wanting to Homeschool Turn to EU Court
Patrick Meinhardt, education speaker for the FDP notes, “I don’t want to start writing up a lot of new rules for homeschooling. I imagine that as long as some state control over the curriculum and teacher training remains, home schooling should not be restricted any more.”
In short, the FDP advocates using the laws on the books for private schools, in order to finally open the door to home-schooling in Germany. The other German parties, however, generally oppose homeschooling more out of...fear that the teachers and their materials will be substandard...
 Patrick Meinhardt also said: "Parents have a fundamental interest to be able to decide on what sort of education their children have."
Erstmals Globale Konferenz zur Bildungsfreiheit - Homeschooling bald erlaubt?
First Global Conference on Freedom of Education -  Will Homeschooling be allowed soon?]

At the meeting talk education experts and practitioners of homeschooling from many countries, including the USA, Russia and Finland. Even the FDP Bundestag member Patrick Meinhardt , educational policy spokesman of the FDP will hold a keynote speech.
Berliner Konferenz zur Bildungsfreiheit
[Berlin Conference on the Freedom of Education]

Perhaps the most significant formal accomplishment of the summit was the signing of the Berlin Declaration by home education leaders and human rights advocates from all over the planet.
The document outlines various human rights conventions and treaties protecting the fundamental right to choose home education while calling on rogue governments to end persecution and repression.
WND EXCLUSIVE Parents shed tears over homeschool-crackdown horrors

As far as political lobbying goes; it looks like there was some hope when the Piraten Partei (Pirate Party) was founded, that they would help legalize home education. This was voted down by 76% vote in the party. (source 1, source 2)

So, put together a note for German home educators to say who was the best choice to vote for just prior to the elections. The basics were that none of the available ruling parties with majority in Parliament could be worked with for various reasons, and we're referred to vote for the PBC. [Which, actually, I'd never heard of. I feel slightly embarrassed by this fact.] They flat out said the CDU/CSU were not workable. For what it is worth, I didn't even see the PBC being given a listing when votes were counted. Maybe they were listed under the all-encompassing "other". I'm not certain.
A German home-schooling page on Facebook went another direction, suggesting the Alternative für Deutschland party.

This is a screen capture from a German pro-homeschooling group, pushing for its supporters to vote for the AfD - Alternative für Deutschland - in this year's election.
"Tomorrow is election day in Germany. The Alternative für Deutschland is the only party we can trust to give us any hope of a legal decision on homeschooling in Germany. In terms of training and education, we can expect them not to mindlessly parrot the sick collectivist consensus [on the legality of home education].

 Now, I had been following some of the news on the AfD and had noted that they are quite similar to The Tea Party in the US, with the exception of being an actual political party, rather than a movement. Apparently, I was not the only one who noticed this, as it was being discussed in almost every German newspaper that I perused. There were some other things that stood out to me, that caused the recommendation above, to cause me to have quite raised eyebrows and wide eyes. My hope was that they would not make the 5% threshold to get into Parliament, not because of their policy towards home-schooling, but due to their other political aims and leanings. [For those who absolutely must know, I cannot vote in any of these elections. I can only express much interest and research as much as I like about these things.]

Its openly anti-euro message has prompted a debate in the governing Christian Democrat (CDU) party, for example - is silence the best policy or should the party's pro-Deutschmark message be addressed head-on?
...The AfD usually gets 2-3% support in the opinion polls. If it can raise that to 5%, under the electoral laws of Germany it gets seats in the Bundestag (lower house), and in a coalition system, small parties then have power. 
Germany's new anti-euro AfD party causes political stir
Who reduces the AFD on their right-wing populism ignores the real ideological threat posed by that party...

The paleolibertarian calls for the submission of all areas of life to the market ideology. Social authorities such as the family and the church are there to protect the individual from the state, which is the enemy of paleolibertarian. The EU opposition of the AFD fits seamlessly into the philosophical ideas of fundamentalists. Anyone who wants to reduce the state to a minimum, of course, also rejects any form of a strong central government.
 Die Gefahr der neuen Partei ist nicht der Rechtspopulismus - Die deutsche Tea Party
[The danger of the new party is not the right-wing populism - The German Tea Party]
 Behind the scenes, a power struggle is raging between a liberal wing, to which many former members are from the FDP, and a conservative part, where the boundaries are quite fluently leaning towards right-wing populism. Questions over of whether gay marriage is right, whether the nuclear power making a comeback or whether individuals should have a right to "homeschooling."..
Alternative für Deutschland - Wie die Wähler die AfD zur Protestpartei machen[The Alternative for Germany - How the voters make the AFD into protest party]

For those who do not know, there is a Fünf-Prozent-Hürde, or a Five Percent Hurdle that each political party must reach to enter into the German Parliament.  The AfD will have participated for the first time in federal elections this September. Emotions were high and everyone wondered how much wind would be in their sails. In the end, they won 4.7% of the vote. This doesn't mean much in the way of Parliament, but it can mean something for some local elections.

I don't really understand all of this, since my husband is extremely pacifist and isn't big on history, politics or political parties. I haven't seen enough of our friends or extended family to discuss politics in ages, and the last political book I have about German political parties (in English, mind you) was published in 2003. We have a few new parties since then and some of that information is quite outdated.

What I do know, though, from my experience in the United States, is that you always follow where people are saying to vote and examine that as far as you can to better understand where they fall politically and what sorts of other beliefs they hold.

All of this really leaves me scratching my head. The more I find out about the people willing to suffer heavy fines or jail and what political parties they're pushing - the more I feel like I've fallen down Alice's rabbit hole.

26 September 2013

German Homeschooling Cases - Things to consider

Photo by A. Stahl

One of the arguments that I keep hearing from family, friends and acquaintances in North America and other English-speaking areas of the world about home-schooling in Germany is: "Homeschooling should not be regulated! Parents have the right to educate their children as they see fit! Should officials be doing welfare checks on babies and toddlers to make sure that they are well cared for?"

I usually stammer a bit and try to explain that things are just so different here with German culture vs. American or Canadian culture, and that with the healthcare system that we have, women who are prenatal and postnatal are well cared for and children are seen as an investment and something that the entire "village" should protect.

It all starts when you get your first positive pregnancy test. No, really. It does.

First, you get your pregnancy test at the apothecary. It will not be available elsewhere, because that is strictly behind-the-counter stuff. You'll be advised by the nice people at the apothecary that if it is positive, to contact your OB/GYN, and if you don't have one, to contact your Hausarzt (The General Practitioner that you're seeing), and get a referral to a good OB/GYN.

You pop out the pregnancy test and without a doubt, it's positive. You might take another, but it too is positive. "Well, we're having a baby!"  Or, whatever variation of that which was said in your home. The next step is simple. You contact your Hausarzt for the referral to an OB/GYN, or, you contact your friends really quickly and find out who is the best in the area. Then, you call and say "[appropriate time of day greeting here] My name is ________ from __________; and I just took a pregnancy test and it's positive. Last missed period was on ________." and before you can say "OK" - they've already hauled out the appointment book and are squeezing you in right away.

When appointment date arrives, you will be given the almighty "Mutterpass". This is a mother's passport and will remain with you your entire pregnancy and through to your postnatal checkups. This is your copy of your medical records. All appointments will be logged here, your test results on any blood tests or other tests that need to be done, how you're measuring, and all ultrasounds.

 The Mutterpass has information that contains all relevant data on the health of the mother, such as blood group; iron content in the blood, test results for hereditary - and infectious diseases ( hepatitis B , HIV , rubella ); the condition of the child -- such as position, weight, size, etc. up to the birth;  and the expected date of birth. Even after the child is born, some important facts about the child, and the postpartum follow-up of the mother, (6-8 weeks after birth), is recorded in the Mutterpass. In an emergency, Doctors have all this information and are able to respond faster.

The mother passport has 16 pages. Each (double) page deals with various aspects of the health of mother and child. [Tons of information here, including what is found in the Mutterpass] See also: Rund ums Baby and this PDF, which have example pages of what is in the Mutterpass.

Due to the length of my post today, I did want to share's wonderful series "Motherhood in the Fatherland". I know that sharing these posts seems like a lot of reading. I tend to over-share in this area, so I'd rather spare those details and let Sabine walk you through the process. Sabine has a tendency to walk one through all the fun steps of culture shock while maintaining an "Oh, right, this is how this works."

Prior to choosing where you will give birth, your next choice is what midwife will be attending you for all your postnatal and breastfeeding needs. Once you've secured her (usually a her, or so I've been told), you will have a visit or two to get to know each other, fill out medical information and share who your doctor is so that they can work together. You'll also hand over your insurance card so that s/he can be paid on time for all the hard work that will be done.

Usually the midwife visits only a few times over the course of a couple of months to assess whether or not your child is growing adequately, you're bonding well, or if you have PPD or other complications. She will also work with your OB/GYN on doing examinations at home, at a time that things are still very delicate, and you won't be wanting to sit in the car or on waiting room chairs. She'll ensure that your uterus is, indeed, going back to normal size, that it is functioning as it should, and that things are healing nicely.

After giving birth, you'll spend some time recuperating. Birth is hard, messy business and it takes a while to bounce back. Most mothers will be off of work for at least a few months, but usually an entire year, or longer. Mothers in Germany will receive "Elterngeld", which will basically help with those extra needs that crop up when you have a little one join your life.

Parental leave is rather generous, allowing fathers to even take as many as fourteen weeks off from work to help his wife or partner out. There have been a few recent news articles discussing the generous leave and stipends to stay at home that are given to new mothers:

"We have this expression, 'rabenmutter', which doesn't even exist in other languages. 'Ravenmother'. It means a bad mother and a woman who works is often considered a 'rabenmutter' in Germany."
Is the German insult 'Raven mothers' holding back women at work?

The federal government passed a law late last year introducing a monthly childcare supplement of €100 to €150... which translates roughly to "money with which to care for someone." It’s expected to cost the government €1.2 billion each year.
As of August, this supplement will be paid to parents of children aged three and under who are not in a state-subsidized daycare.
German childcare allowance raises questions about working moms

...women who are both underemployed and underpaid. German women work fewer hours than women in most other OECD countries (see chart). The gap in median pay is the third-widest in the club, after South Korea's and Japan's. That is partly because mothers stay at home. In 2008 just 18% of children under the age of three were in formal child care, against an OECD average of 30%.
German family policy - Pay to stay at home

...On average, a mother of one takes three years off, a mother of two up to seven years off and even then only goes back to work part-time...
 With child care this good and affordable, what is it that’s keeping German mothers out of the workplace? ...School often finishes at midday, it’s hard to find any job that fits this schedule.” ... “There’s also a culture of mothers not working,” another mother added, “and those who do might get called a Rabenmutter.” That’s a raven mother – one who doesn’t care about her children.
The reluctant hausfrau: being a German mother

After having our first check-up with the pediatrician at the hospital of our choice, we learned rather quickly, that your children also get a copy of their medical records in an "U-heft" [Untersuchungsheft: children's examination folder] which is also known as a "Gelbes Heft" [Yellow folder]. This will house all copies of medical data from the child's birth, through their eighteenth year. Like the Mutterpass, it is advised you take it and the Impfpass  [vaccination passport] along if you go on a trip anywhere, especially out of the country.

Prior to moving to Germany, in 2005, a law was passed in several Länder that made these check-ups legally binding, and prosecutable if you miss them. Originally, there were ten checkups mandated, but this has changed in the last year or so with several additional check-ups added to the folder and us being told we will have additional appointments.

Children's preventative checkups are to ensure that defects and diseases... especially those which endanger the normal physical and mental development of the child ... are recognized quickly by a pediatrician, early enough to initiate appropriate therapy. At the same time studies are carried out to document cases of neglect , abandonment , child abuse or sexual abuse...
Since the early seventies there were, in the Federal Republic of Germany, ten statutory checkups for children and adolescents, but not all parents were taking their children to these voluntary health checks.
Due to the appalling cases of child neglect - and child abuse...  Experts in child and youth services, child protection, physicians, doctors and many politicians began demanding federally regulated, legally mandatory, screenings for all German children.
  "We have revised all mandatory checkups from the U1 to J2," Hartmann said. The questionnaires that doctors will fill out with feedback from the parents, will in future, explore various risk factors [for example in the areas of exercise, nutrition, media consumption and parent-child interaction.]
Barmer und Kinderärzte starten neue Kindervorsorge­untersuchungen
We received the following letter in 2008:
Ladies and gentlemen, dear parents,
On the 1st of January 2008, the Hessian Child Health Protection Act came into force in Hessen. The pediatric check-ups (U1, U2, U3, U4, U5, U6, U7, U7a, U8, U9) have become mandatory by this law. To ensure that all check-ups, beginning with U4 have been conducted to U9, the ...Hessian children's care center based at the University Hospital of Frankfurt is responsible. . .
Hessisches Kindervorsorgezentrum

We ended up with three or four additional check-ups, leaving us with about fifteen or so before our children will be 18. So, double that, and we'll be in the doctor's office at least thirty-odd times in twenty years of being parents, barring illnesses that have us in more frequently.
One of the more frequent arguments I hear from my friends and acquaintances in the US are summed up very well by Hermana Linda at Why Not Train a Child?
My opinion is that parents are responsible for their children, the state is not. I do not believe that the state should take charge of children unless there is a dire circumstance such as obvious abuse. I do not believe that the state should be checking on children in order to make sure that they are not being abused. . .
It is just as easy, if not easier, to abuse a child before they reach school age. So, if we’re going to worry about school aged children being abused, why not worry about pre-school aged children being abused..?
Why Not Regulate Homeschoolers?

 Well, as you can see, Germany doesn't work like the United States or Canada. Nope, not at all. Children are not only part of their family, but part of a wider, well-networked village.

Also unlike the United States, Germany has outlawed punitive discipline and leans more towards non-punitive discipline, bed-sharing, attachment parenting, extended breastfeeding, cloth diapering... you get the picture. Some areas are more granola than others, but, for the most part, Germany is very protective of mothers and children. It is also very proactive with health issues, and looking to stamp out  and educate parents on how to prevent child abuse.

Germany has no separation of church and state like the United States, so it is expected that you will likely be religious, and additionally have the support network of your local church, synagogue or mosque. If you do not, groups like Caritas, Diakonie and such are available to you, and you will be informed by your midwife about something like MOPS that is available from your local church, as well as about 100 different types of "Mommy and me" activities.
With the check-ups in place, there has been a decrease in reported abuse cases. Sadly, I cannot find these numbers at the moment, but I trust one of my German readers will know where I can find that again. I'd lost my laptop at the beginning of the year, which means I lost a vast mess of data from my old favorites, which included all of this.

I've had friends who argue, "With all these precautions, how could anyone educate at home?" - People do it all the time. Generally speaking, those people are either celebrities, government officials, parents who move frequently or parents of children with illnesses that necessitate schooling at home or in a hospital. It's done every day.

I believe, if we could take care of the issue of curriculum and ensuring that parents are well supported, that education at home could be possible. My line of thinking is quite similar to what was blogged at Homeschooling's Invisible Children today:

We do not want to do away with homeschooling... We would simply like to see convicted child abusers or sex offenders barred from homeschooling, light monitoring when families with a previous history of neglect or abuse begin homeschooling, and yearly academic assessments (via standardized test or portfolio review) to ensure that families who claim to be homeschooling are not doing so to hide abuse rather than to educate their children.
Some Fallacies Rebutted

I believe that if the government could work with the families who are already schooling at home and come to some sort of agreement.

Well, that is my hope. We'll see what is decided as more proceedings go through the court system, what is decided for the future of the German educational system.

25 September 2013

German Homeschooling Case - The Landahl family

Rose - photo by A. Stahl

Today I would like to look at the plight of another family that has been in American and British news a few times, and fallen off the English-speaking news radar. Who are the Landahls, what happened in the German courts, and where are they now?

A few short months before I had come to live in Germany, I had heard about this family via WorldNetDaily. I do not usually get my news from there. I'll attempt to balance what was said in their articles with what is still available in the news.

The objective in sharing these stories is so that others, especially my acquaintances that keep asking about home-schooling in Germany get to see the story from every available angle possible, while limited by various circumstances. I do recommend using Google Translate, as I am limited to how much I can quote from any news article available on the internet.

This story seems a bit difficult to piece together as most news stories are no longer available. However, the picture seems much the same as usual once you get a good overview of everything.

The oldest story I can find, is from January 2008. After fighting the system, the family decided to move to the United Kingdom. That is when things went south quickly.

A homeschooling family is trying to arrange an escape from Germany before authorities can complete a court action that would give the state custody of their five children, according to a pro-family advocacy organization.
POLICE STATE, GERMANY:  Parents race to escape before court takes kids

 A new low... in the case of the Landahl family... After this family has successfully practiced homeschooling for their four children; and thus far have been no reason for complaint (aside from the usual fines); ...mayor Jürgen Grossmann has now resorted to drastic measures. [This was at the end of 2007]
 In the court document... it is said that the grounds for removing the children (found in section II, page 6) that "apart from the forcible removal of the children from the home..." was because it was feared any other measures "could otherwise harm the children psychologically."
"...the transfer to a group home will do more damage to the children's souls than having an entire, previously intact family..."
It may be that the zeal to enforce compulsory schooling... is ...more important than the children's welfare or common sense.

However, officials said the court has not issued a final ruling in the case brought by the mayor of Altensteig, a city with a sister-city promotional relationship with Butte, Mont.
POLICE STATE, GERMANY: Homeschool family reaches England

 ...The family belongs to the community of evangelical charismatic influenced youth, mission and social work Altensteig (JMS). The parents refuse to send their children to school for religious and educational reasons...
On 16 November 2007 the Federal Constitutional Court in Karlsruhe adopted a resolution that parents who keep their children out of school for religious reasons, may lose custody of said children. counter the emergence of religious or ideological "parallel societies"...
Flucht nach England [Fleeing to England]

 “The [German] court determined that the parents’ refusal to send their children to either a state or ... approved private school is a misuse of parental custody rights, which violates the well-being of the child,”
... “and which requires actions by the family court. …”
...the letter, [is] signed by N. Hauf., director of school affairs, said.
POLICE STATE, GERMANY: Open season on homeschoolers

In an interview with our newspaper, the mayor defends against "insults and outrageous allegations."  The Landahl family had not been expelled, but went voluntarily.
Grossman: "If we give here, we could be facing people of Islamic faith asking for the same right to freedom of education by homeschooling them." Moreover, the parents were welcome to choose to send their children to a state-approved, Christian private school of their choice - for example in Calw...
Article no longer available found here

 "We wanted to give our children the opportunity to discover their talents themselves..." says ...Klaus Landahl...
However, the authorities take do not allow homeschooling. "We have repeatedly sought dialogue," says Mayor John Grossmann. There are now several administrative penalties, and the city is asking the youth mission and social work (JMS) to mediate.
Article no longer available, found here

 Klaus Landahl,  ...with his wife, Kathrin, ...said they had no option but to leave their home, friends and belongings in order to educate their five children... legally and without fear. 'It feels like persecution,' he said...
The family now live in Shanklin, surviving off savings while Landahl seeks work... His wife said they chose home-schooling to spare their children from bullying and to allow them to focus on their individual interests.
Home-school Germans flee to UK

  Even today, the only exceptions to the mandatory public school attendance requirements are rare cases where they are granted for children suffering serious illnesses.
POLICE STATE, GERMANY: Dad describes family's flight from 'persecution'

  Anyone who wants to teach a child in Germany without school, must show valid reasons for it. Athletes or students with special mental or physical impairments, submit the appropriate certificates and can be exempted from compulsory education under certain circumstances.
Britische Presse hat Mitleid mit deutschen Eltern

Netzwerk Bildungsfreiheit has an interesting letter submitted after several German home-schooling families were in the news from 2006-08.
"We have the impression that the resistance of the provincial authorities mainly goes back to ignorance of the international situation and unsustainable prejudices about the consequences of legalization. This we would like to change and therefore ask you to give us the opportunity [to discuss this] at the education summit."

This is all I have at the moment on this family. If anyone knows of anything else, I'm more than interested in hearing more of the story.

24 September 2013

The Twelve Tribes group in Germany part 3

Photo by A. Stahl

Since I've been covering the Zwölf Stämmen case, things have been quiet on the news front as the parents and children have been giving testimony in closed hearings in Bavaria. I waited for the election and a few other things to die down a bit before going back to this story.

There hasn't been much of any news to come out in English since the raid earlier this month, except for an article from The Independent UK. The article happens to interview one of the leaders at the Twelve Tribes location in Stentwood, Devon, UK.

“We have known that there is a legal issue in Germany over chastisement, but we believed we need to do what is right in God’s law rather than what the law of any land or state said. That’s really the bottom line of it. We always knew this day could come.”
...“we take the Bible seriously and believe... it’s a fundamental right to use the willow cane, it’s what we all believe...”
The Independent UK: 'It is our right to use the willow cane': Inside the Twelve Tribes Christian fundamentalist sect at centre of childcare controversy

Also, I somehow missed a couple news stories, prior to and immediately after the raid. It does make me wonder if this is why the reporter was so swift with his investigation?

  A few weeks before the beginning of the school year, the... community had once again asked for approval of their complementary school. The Ministry of Education had withdrawn authorization of the school ...on the 31st of July... The 20 school-age boys and girls ... will now need to attend state schools or ...private schools for the 2013/14 school year and forwards.
Sekte "Zwölf Stämme" beantragt eine neue Schule
["Twelve Tribes" sect applied for a new school]
 According to neighbors and former sect members, about ten school-age children are missing from Dolchau village since the week before the raid. The boys and girls are aged around 7 and 16 years of age and are thought to have been brought to a "Twelve Tribes" communie in the Czech Republic; presumably to escape the clutches of the German youth welfare offices.
 "Zwölf Stämme": Christen-Sekte soll Kinder ins Ausland gebracht haben
["Twelve Tribes": Christian sect is said to have brought children abroad]

 There was mention in my previous blog update on the Zwölf Stämmen that one child was returned to it's family during the hearings. It appears that this family was visiting from Latin America, and was not seen as a threat. Therefore, their three year old was returned in anticipation that they return to their homeland. You can find information here about that.

SWR ran a program this month with Criminologist Christian Pfeiffer. The findings are rather shocking, in my humble opinion, to find in a country that has outlawed physical discipline methods. Especially so, that people are justifying verses that are so far removed from their actual application to beat children.

Some free church communities ...are circulating parenting books, in which, ..."God has prescribed the use of corporal punishment..."
Detail is even given not to leave marks that would lead to criminal investigations: "... no matter how painful the blows of a slightly flexible article is... if no pain is felt in the child, then the instrument is ...too easy or ...soft. "
"Prügel im Namen der Bibel -"Den Kindern den Teufel aus dem Leib prügeln""
[Beatings in the name of the Bible "They beat the hell out of their kids"]

Updates on the Twelve Tribes case specifically:

The faith community has already been accused of chastising their children with beatings for a long time.
NTV: Religion Kinder - Amtsgericht hört Kinder der «Zwölf Stämme» wegen Prügelvorwürfen an

[Religion Children Court hears children of the "Twelve Tribes" because of allegations of beatings]
 In the case of the sect "The Twelve Tribes", authorities in Dolchau react in Saxony-Anhalt. After demands, the Youth Office has announced controls. "The youth welfare office is under a protection mandate," said district spokeswoman Birgit Eurich. Exactly when the employees want to look at the situation, is left unknown.
Jugendamt kündigt Kontrolle bei Sekte in Dolchau an
[Child Protective Services announce controlled look at a sect in Dolchau]
On Wednesday [September 18th] in the district court Nördlingen (district of Donau-Ries), the "Twelve Tribes" hearing began...
...In the next two weeks, the cult children are to be heard in court...
Amtsgericht Nördlingen hört Sekten-Eltern an
[Nördlingen sect parents' court hearing] 
 "The privacy of children is now top priority." The judge has prohibited outside press shots of people in and outside of the court house and has appealed to the media to respect this privacy.
...[September 18th] three children, aged thirteen, fifteen and sixteen were at court..
Anhörung: Privatsphäre der Kinder hat oberste Priorität
[ Hearing privacy of children is a top priority]
...Is established... that there is risk of and "massive, concrete and demonstrable child welfare risks"..
... care will be taken to support the welfare of the children in question and constantly take into account all new developments. There are currently ... 18 cases pending...
Familiengericht verhandelt 18 Fälle: Eltern verlieren Sorgerecht
[Family Court heard 18 cases: Parents lose custody]

Sharp criticism is heard from the faith community on its website about the RTL reporter. He bought "the confidence and openness of the people living there shamelessly, and abused it." ... The journalist.. "lied about himself and his life in order to conceal his true motives." The group wants to examine constitutional law, "to find out if one is allowed to secretly film and record sound, to publish them on television."
„Zwölf Stämme“ veröffentlichen Briefe ihrer in Obhut genommenen Kinder.
["Twelve Tribes" publishes letters from its children taken into care.]
 Last Friday [September 20th], two children who were in protective custody in Wörnitz; a 17-year-old girl and her ten year old sister  returned to their parents home. The parents informed the police of their presence. The foster parents had said the children had boarded a bus and already reported them missing. That same evening, the girls were returned by the police, back to the foster parents.
Zwölf Stämme: Zwei Mädchen wollten zurück
[Twelve Tribes: Two girls wanted to go back]

Because of the abuse allegations against the faith community, the children should remain ... in foster families. This was announced by the District Court of Ansbach on Tuesday, confirming the provisional withdrawal of parental authority for children...
Gericht: Kinder der Sekte bleiben bei Pflegefamilien
[Courts: Children of the Sect to Remain With Foster Families]

The Court also is relying on information contained in the education manual of the "Twelve Tribes" and video recordings of a television journalist. In the book there is a chapter on punishment of children with a rod...
Kinder bleiben vorerst in Pflegefamilien See Augsburger Allgemeine also
[children remain in foster care for now] 

To the Family Court has adopted four resolutions in the interim ... the parents can appeal these decisions in the next two weeks before the Higher Regional Court of Nuremberg...
Familiengericht: "Zwölf Stämme" bekommen Kinder nicht zurück
[Family Court: "Twelve Tribes" will not get kids back]

After the court had looked at the statements of the children, parents and former members of the sect belongs and the videotapes of the reporter, it has now decided: The children remain in foster care for now and do not return to the sect. They wanted to obtain "family psychological expert opinion" among others, which could take several months.
 Christen-Sekte "Zwölf Stämme": Gericht bestätigt vorläufigen Entzug des Sorgerechts [Christian sect "Twelve Tribes": Court confirms preliminary deprivation of custody]

On Sunday 29.9.2013, "Gemeinsam gegen die Zwölf Stämme" [Together against the Twelve Tribes] will be organizing a vigil, as they did already on 21.9.2013 to stand against the harmful parenting and spiritual upbringing of the commune's children.

Der Spiegel just ran a story yesterday (27.9.2013) on the Twelve Tribes. This documents several different things, including the history of the group and a couple run-ins that they had in the US, including one mentioned in The New York Times in 1984; and ten children that have been missing since right before the raid. I've been waiting for them to translate it into English, but they tend to be a little slow sometimes with these things.
The community was founded in the seventies in the United States.
The members of the sect live according to their own specifications in communes in various countries including Canada, Brazil, and England. In Germany, there are nearly a hundred followers in the country. The Twelve Tribes say that they rely on early Christian practices; such as their maxim: "He who loves his child, beats him with a rod."
They believe in their leader Gene Spriggs, and that in 2026, the world will come to an end. To this end, they believe that all who are not a part of their sect are possessed by Satan.
By this logic, is the Devil himself who is sending the reserves of his battalion against the Bavarian commune.
 Christen-Sekte "Zwölf Stämme": "Die tanzen den Behörden auf der Nase herum"
[Christian sect "Twelve Tribes": "They're testing the authorities patience"]

Updated: 28.9.2013
This is all I have at the moment. As court proceedings advance, as children open up - I am sure there will be more that is let out to the public.

You can also read more here: Part 1, part 2 part 4, part 5, part 6, part 7, part 8 and part 9 

German Homeschooling - Both sides of the issue

Tree across from the Court House in Darmstadt

Today I would like to talk about the legalities of Homeschooling. I would like to present the pro and contra views to the best of my abilities, as impartially as possible. I will play devil's advocate for both sides, including putting views out there that even I do not believe, for the sake of arguing everything I've heard so far.

I will be quoting some news articles in this post. Do remember that these articles can be read in full in German, or you can run them through
Google Translate. It's not the best, but, it helps. I'm limited how much I am allowed to quote and translate by copyright law. In a way, this is a blessing and a curse.

To begin with the issue of home-schooling, we have to look at German Constitutional Law. You can find The Basic Rights in English here. You can find it in German here.

Secondly, we have to consider that each German state [Länder] is ruled by its own constitution, or, "Landesgesetz" and it also has to be considered.

Third for consideration, is the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights, specifically Article 26:
  • (1) Everyone has the right to education. Education shall be free, at least in the elementary and fundamental stages. Elementary education shall be compulsory. Technical and professional education shall be made generally available and higher education shall be equally accessible to all on the basis of merit.
  • (2) Education shall be directed to the full development of the human personality and to the strengthening of respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms. It shall promote understanding, tolerance and friendship among all nations, racial or religious groups, and shall further the activities of the United Nations for the maintenance of peace.

Here is some information on German Compulsory Schooling Law:
...Basically, religious education is a compulsory subject with exceptions for independent denominational schools for which no religious instruction is provided ...
...An exemption from sex education is not justified in most cases for reasons of faith... ...parental rights are taken into account and parents are informed about the content and form of sex education with the opportunity to debate them.
DAS: Freistellung vom Unterricht [The discussion of Sex Ed. becoming compulsory, can be found in this older N-TV article.]
...Different measures and judgments show that we are far away from an uniform approach towards truants in Germany. Again and again the courts and experts are consulted to assess current situations of home-schooled children...
A loss of custody for parents will be considered if the child is seriously neglected, is being abused physically or psychologically. . with very great sensitivity and empathy towards devout parents...
Schulverweigerung aus religiösen Gründen [School Refusal on Religious Grounds]

One previous hearing at the European Court of Human Rights on home-schooling was
Leuffen v. Germany in the early 1990s.
...The applicant is of the opinion that compulsory schooling of her son would violate her right to ensure his education in conformity with her religious and philosophical convictions as guaranteed by Article 2 of Protocol No. 1 (P1-2).However, the European Court of Human Rights has held that the convictions of parents must not conflict with the fundamental right of the child to education, the whole of Article 2 (Art. 2) being dominated by its first sentence (Campbell and Cosans judgment of 25 February 1982, Series A no 48, p. 16, par. 36). This means that parents may not refuse the right to education of a child on the basis of their convictions.
Leuffen v. Germany

The most recent, hearing at the European Court of Human Rights on home-schooling in Germany was
Konrad and Others v. Germany.
...the German courts pointed to the fact that the applicant parents were free to educate their children after school and at weekends. Therefore, the parents’ right to education in conformity with their religious convictions is not restricted in a disproportionate manner. Compulsory primary-school attendance does not deprive the applicant parents of their right to “exercise with regard to their children natural parental functions as educators, or to guide their children on a path in line with the parents’ own religious or philosophical convictions”
Konrad and Others v. Germany.

I did find another set of legal proceedings from the
Arizona Journal of International & Comparative Law, Vol. 27, No. 1; which references some of the issues here in Germany. It is a PDF that is 58 pages long. There is simply no way I can quote that. There's some good information therein, and there's some poor scholarship as well.

I also find a DVD on homeschooling called "
Schulfrei", and a couple books about homeschooling in Germany (in German) that are available to purchase. The first is: Homeschooling in Deutschland: Gesetze und Praxis eines umstrittenen Begriffs. The second is: Schulfrei: Vom Lernen ohne Grenzen.  The third, is Pädagogik mit beschränkter Haftung: Kritische Schultheorie. There may be more that I have not heard of, so if you are so inclined, just drop a comment below and I can update this with that information.

You may find German Home-schooling Websites here:

You will find information and support for German Home-schooling at the following sites:
HSLDA, GHEC and HEDUA. Secular homeschooling support can be found here: BVNL, Freilerner-Solidar Gemeinshaft
If you know of others, I'm happy to link them up here in the spirit of free information and people making up their own minds.

Flowers, photo by A. Stahl

..."The only thing I did not find good about homeschooling was that we had to hide ourselves... Otherwise, lessons at home have advantages."
... "Most of the other homeschoolers I know are Christians like us. Almost all get an apprenticeship because they can not do A-Levels if they do not attend school."
..."There is an assumption that one takes refuge in a parallel society that is fundamentalist and sectarian. But we really do want to integrate ourselves."
FAZ: Eine Homeschoolerin erzählt „Wir mussten uns verstecken“
[A Homeschooler tells us, "We have to hide"]

PUR: Can parents teach at home because even the immense wealth of current knowledge about children being readily available? Or do you need a special training?
Klemens Lichter: It is said that today we live in the information age... the information is already available. What you need is the ability to filter this enormous amount of information and to evaluate and make sense to use to complete the task in each instance. . . the Nuremberg Funnel has outlived its usefulness.
Pur: Interview mit einem Homeschool-Vater
[Pur: An interview with a homeschool father]

Education at home is, in general, contrary to popular opinion so it is no small matter that it is unregulated. In countries where this form of education is generally accepted, there is support and help for parents who wish to home educate. Similarly, it is a fallacy to think that home schooling parents rejected some grand plan of the state on principle.
Of course, homeschooled children must pass state tests and acquire the appropriate legal qualifications recognized...
CDU in Kiel diskutierte über Schulunterricht zuhause und die Erziehungshoheit der Eltern
  [Stephan Ehmke, councilor and school policy spokesman of the CDU faction Council Kiel discussed home schooling and the education authority of the parents]
Even the children of the Wunderlich family should have a high level of education. The Office of Education has recently made a picture of their performance level. "The children have consequently a higher than average reading skills," says Andreas Vogt, the lawyer for the family, "they have a high scientific knowledge, may very well work independently and have a high concentration skills."
"Unsere Kinder gehören nicht dem Staat"
[Firstly,] there is an educationally oriented parenting, that is trying to change the German school system by homeschooling. ...[Secondly, there are] education-oriented parents, who feel that the school no longer provides the knowledge they need to make their children happy... a frame-work that is worth living... pleasant surroundings, closely accompanied by adults who react responsibly and humanely...
... [Thirdly, there are] religiously motivated parents who say that due to religious reasons, they do not wish certain history, sex education and so on to be expected of their children.
"Man muss die Schulpflicht etwas lockern" Erziehungswissenschaftler plädiert für kontrollierten Hausunterricht
["You need to loosen compulsory education up a bit." Education researcher pleads for controlled home schooling ]

...compulsory education ... ensures that - always on the basis of our constitution - education which is not subject to an ideology is possible. (Although, there are those who think there is a specific ideology behind the public school.) Were it not for compulsory education, our society would drift apart and strengthen ideological conflicts that are already available [creating flash-points]. abolish compulsory education in Germany would be a significantly greater injustice.
Die allgemeine Schulpflicht muss erhalten bleiben
[Compulsory education must be maintained]

...Home-schooling means nothing other than children or youth are learning all necessary content they otherwise receive... from their parents...
...figures from the U.S. state there are now between two and three million children and young people who are homeschooled...
In Germany, there is a trend towards home-schooling, but there is a legal issue... in that compulsory education is tied to visiting a school building until age eighteen.
Neuer Trend des Homeschooling - Ist der Weg für Homeschooling in Deutschland bald frei?
[New trend of Homeschooling - is the way for homeschooling ready to be paved?]

Critics like to point out that the compulsory education was an achievement of the Nazis - which is not entirely true, because it existed before, but it has only actually been punishable [with fees and jail time] since 1938. In other countries, you do not find such a rigorous focus on collective learning (with the exception of Bulgaria)...
FAZ: Hausunterricht-Verbot „Wie in einer Diktatur“
[Homeschooling ban "as in a dictatorship"]

The fact that homeschooling is legal throughout Europe, while being stringently prohibited in places such as Germany... suggests that European Union policy makers are working so fast it may not even be clear to anyone how much authority the local and national authorities have. In addition, local and national authorities haven’t even had a chance to develop a good game plan. ...20% of Germany’s citizens are of non-German descent... it’s hard to understand the concern with Christian parallel cultures unless a new “unity” is in the program.
Homeschoolers vs. the European Union

As a movement, home-schooling originated in the United States in the 70s. At this time, criticism of the public school system was in the foreground. The alternatives and liberals of old have, since the 80s and especially the 90s, been replaced by Christian fundamentalists who want to educate their children as unencumbered by problematic themes such as biology, where rejected themes such as the theory of evolution is to be taught. Heimunterricht schafft die christliche Avantgarde
[Home schooling provides the Christian vanguard]

Pienser, photo by A. Stahl

What are the typical arguments for home-schoolers not using the available school systems nearby?
  • Believe that teaching is the only option for parents, sending children to school is sinful or neglectful.
  • Bad school system
  • Child is a genius and not being allowed to flower and advance
  • Child has medical issues and requires assistance to be mainstreamed, and is not being accommodated.
  • Chronic or Temporary illness
  • Mixing with unbelievers (religious standpoint of needing a parallel society of believer/unbeliever)
  • Ecumenicalism
  • Required classes that they disagree with philosophically (sexual education, evolution, world religion, folk stories, swim classes, gym classes, meals, meditation/prayer, religious holidays)
  • Push for Vaccination (or pressure because they are not vaccinated)
  • Peer-pressure/Bad influence
  • Bullying/Sexual harassment/Stalking
  • Dating Scene
  • Television, Radio, Internet and/or Movies being available in the classroom
  • Books they disagree with being on the required reading
  • Dress Code/Modesty reasons (includes ability or inability to wear religious items)
  • ""Alternative Lifestyles""
  • Perception that the government is wholly evil and out to turn children against their parents.
  • "other".

If parents are allowed to educate at home, children can be put to their own pace, and based on their own strengths and weaknesses and one on one attention: flourish. They must not school for a set number of hours, or wait on other students to complete their tasks to move on. Every trip away from home is a "Field trip" - imagine all the things you could do if you plan it out for the education it can bring to your child(ren).

Bad influences are left out of the equation. Children do not have to be small missionaries before they solidly have their belief system engrained in their system. They also will not question about other religious beliefs or ancient religious beliefs, unless that is something the parents wish to cover.

Children do not have to be exposed to other cultures or belief systems before the parents are ready to discuss such a thing. In contrast, children can learn as much, or as little as parents want them to learn about religious beliefs in general. They will not be forced to take a religious class or ethics when home-schooled.

Children do not have to be taught about sex until subsequent children are born and they ask out of natural curiosity, pets or farm animals are to be had, or whatever age parents choose to tell them their beliefs about sex. LGBTQ or Intersex is something that is usually left off the table until children are taught about sex - unless parents believe this is a choice, and are then taught that it sinful and people who live that lifestyle are confused.

Parents who do not want to teach certain theories, such as evolution; do not have to.

In general, there is no peer-pressure, bad influences, bullying or dating going on in home-school groups or associations.

There is no arbitrary dress code when one home-schools. Children simply do as modeled and do not question it until they are closer towards leaving the home.
Dating is handled differently from family to family or group to group. Some allow it, some forbid it. Some arrange marriages and some only allow chaperoned "visits" with no alone time until the children are paired off for marriage. Some allow children to choose on their own how they will handle it.

If a child has a temporary or chronic illness, they can school themselves on their own schedule. If children are gifted, they can pursue their own education at their own pace. If children have mental or physical impairments, accommodations can be made and are easier due to being on a one on one situation.

Children are free to go to church services every time the doors are open, and are able to have their curriculum peppered with as much or as little religious teaching as the parents are comfortable with.

There is no set "type" or curriculum for home-schooling. Parents are free to choose however they wish to school their children.

Children are allowed to listen to/view the music, internet and television or movies that parents approve of and nothing more.

Tulip, photo by A.Stahl

What are the typical arguments that are against homeschooling?
  • Parents are often not prepared to offer the best education possible.
  • Concerns about the rights and safety of the children
  • Free-agency of the children (aka: Groupthink - are children able to think for themselves?)
  • Concerns about curriculum
  • Placement testing - will it occur? Who will administer the tests?
  • Psychological  or Emotional health
  • Religious or Philosophical issues 
  • Various forms of abuse
  • Worries over whether home-schoolers will be able to advance to university/college or relegated to apprenticeships and low-wage jobs. [Most children who are home-schooled do not receive a diploma on par with their learning abilities, simply because they are home-schooled.]
  • Social issues - will the children know what individuals are talking about if they've only been exposed to home-schooling society and their religious circles?
  • Whether or not home educated students will be afforded physical education or other courses that are generally offered in compulsory schooling

A lot of home-schoolers tend to have an unhealthy (in very few cases, a justified) fear of Child Protective Services and build it up as an evil institution filled with individuals bent on serving Satan, forgetting that there are also Christians working within the system. -- How can we repair these broken lines of communication?

A "no true Scotsman" approach is prevalent where home-schoolers are faced with well documented cases of abuse or child death at the hands of home-educating parents. No one wants to hear of it or acknowledge that it happens. Arguments are usually "They weren't really home-schoolers" or "They were not associated with the HSLDA [or other umbrella of protection]." (See: Homeschooling's Invisible children, To Break Down a Child, Why not Train a Child?, Abuse and the HSLDA,
Erica Parsons...)

There are issues with punitive parenting methods that certain denominations of Christianity teach as necessary to drive sin out of children. These forms of physical and emotional discipline methods are illegal in Germany. [Yet, we know they were used amongst many home educators in the United States, and the Zwölf Stämmen in Germany.]

There are issues with spiritual abuse via cultish groups who advocate strictly patriarchal viewpoints that are clearly a part of the curse mentality taught in Genesis 3 and very much against the Judeo-Christian spirit of the Grundgesetz, which clearly states that women are in equal standing with men. [Grundgesetz, Article 3,2: Men and women shall have equal rights. The state shall promote the actual implementation of equal rights for women and men and take steps to eliminate disadvantages that now exist.]

There are issues with individuals who wish to teach philosophies that are against the better interest of Germany or society at large, such as White Supremacist, Neo-Nazi or other anti-semitic ideals.

Not all home-schoolers believe in or teach Judeo-Christian values. Many are Athiest, Agnostic, Humanists, Pagans, or of other religious belief systems. If they are allowed to school at home, who says what is/isn't allowed, and how can we ensure that they are adequately socialized if they are not allowed into home-school umbrellas operated or attended by Christians?

If the government allows home-schooling for one religious group, it must allow home-schooling for everyone.

There is no set curriculum for home-schooling. There are also no placement tests for children who are educated at home, unless they are finally being re-entered into compulsory education. How can we ensure that parents are giving equal educational opportunities as public, private and religious schools?

Home-education is not accredited, how can society guarantee that children have the same ability as their peers to get high paying jobs, if they so wish? Does this mean that we will need to set up "umbrella" organizations that oversee curriculum that is accredited and treat home educators like private school satellites?

Theories that are seen as incompatible with the parent's point of view are often
not taught. How will the children know, understand or be able to discuss with their intellectual peers - theories such as evolution (micro, macro and everything in between) or "Big Bang", Intelligent Design and Creationism on intellectual levels?

What about situations where there is clearly abuse going on? (Sexual, physical, emotional or spiritual?) How do we prevent that if there is no oversight?

Some children have physical, emotional or mental delays. If they are kept at home 90% of the time, who will suggest early intervention or help stave off massive delays if there is no oversight or interaction with their peer group?

Many home-school parents have a tendency to segregate themselves from non-home educating parents. How can we ensure that parents are getting enough social interaction so that they do not burn-out or experience emotional difficulties due to this isolation?

Some of these arguments are presented in German
here, here, here and here; as well as elsewhere in newspaper opinion articles or comments to newspaper editors.

Now you've seen both sides. What are your thoughts on home-schooling in Germany?

07.09.2014  - two links added