A Nazi-era law requiring all children to attend public school, to avoid “the emergence of parallel societies based on separate philosophical convictions” that could be taught by parents at home, apparently is triggering a Nazi-like response from police.
The word comes from Netzwerk Bildungsfreiheit, or Network for Freedom in Education, which confirmed that children in a family in Bissingen, in the state of Baden-Wuerttemberg, have been forcibly hauled to a public school.
“On Friday 20 October 2006 at around 7:30 a.m. the children of a home educating family … were brought under duress to school by police,” the organization, which describes itself as politically and religiously neutral, confirmed.
A separate weblog in the United States noted the same tragedy.
Homeschoolblogger.com noted that the “three children were picked up by the police and escorted to school in Baden-Wurttemberg, with the ‘promise’ that it would happen again this week.”
The Network for Freedom in Education, through spokesman Joerg Grosseluemern, said the Remeike family has been “home educating their children since the start of the school year, something which is legal in practically the whole of the (European Union).”
“However, on this morning, they were confronted by police officials, who, in an incredibly inconsiderate manner, forced their crying children into a police car and drove them to the school. The police stated that they had been instructed to continue this measure in the coming week,” the network statement said.
The network noted that the previous Minister of Education, Annette Schavan, had said such actions were not needed, because “… the children are generally not lacking in any other respects.” Officials at that time, in 2002, confirmed that “forcible methods” generally are “not in the long-term interests of either the children or the police.”
However, the network noted the priorities of current officials obviously are different.
“The family involved emphasizes that their children are neither truant nor school deniers, which are the cases for which such measures were intended,” said the network’s statement, a translation from the original German. “The Remeike family is fulfilling their children’s right to an education by educating them at home, with the support of teachers from a distance learning academy, which also supplies the necessary material.”
School arguments that homeschooling endangers the welfare of the children “lacks any factual foundation,” the network statement said.
“Tearing the children from the bosom of their family by forcing certainly does not contribute to their welfare. The result is more likely to be traumatisation and the development of an aversion to instruments of state authority,” the statement said.
No comment could be obtained immediately from school or police officials.
“The Netzwerk Bildungsfreiheit strongly empathises with the Romeike family, whom many of us know personally to be an intact and conscience-driven family. We condemn the degrading act carried out by the police as a blatant breach of the personal rights of individual family members and call for the Mayor of Bissingen, as well as the Office for Education of the District Authorities of Esslingen, to end these sanctions…”
The American blog noted that several other homeschooling parents recently have been fined or imprisoned for brief jail terms for teaching their children at home.
The blog reported that one mother spending a few days in jail for providing homeschooling for her child “ended up leading a Bible study for women who have begged her to come back.”
It reported another family was fined $2,250 and members were being attacked emotionally so that the father handed a nervous breakdown that landed him in a hospital. The family put their two children in a public school “but it was so awful, they pulled them out again … and put them in a public Catholic school.”
It also contained reports that Waldemar Block, the father of nine, was arrested at his work earlier this month and jailed for 13 days, while Olga Block, his sister-in-law, was jailed for 10 days for not paying fines after she sent her children to a Christian school in Heidelberg.
The Home School Legal Defense Association, the largest homeschooling group in the U.S. with more than 80,000 families, also has been working to raise attention in the international community to the plight of German homeschoolers, including several families in the Baden-Wurttemberg region.
The group suggested contacting the German embassy, which had an answering machine attached to the telephone line when WND left a request for comment yesterday.
The HSLDA said that contact is:
4645 Reservoir Road NW
Washington, DC, 20007-1998
or it can be e-mailed from its its website.
The U.S. organization also noted that homeschooling has been illegal in Germany probably since 1938 when Hitler banned it. It recently announced a campaign to address the persecution Christians in Germany are facing from education authorities.
Ian Slatter, a spokesman for the HSLDA, said it was launched after a mother was arrested and jailed on criminal homeschooling counts.
In that case, according to a report in the Brussels Journal, Katharina Plett was arrested and ordered to jail while her husband fled to Austria with the family’s 12 children.
The latest police-state actions follow by only weeks a recent ruling from the European Human Rights Court that affirmed the German nation’s ban on homeschooling.
The Strasburg-based court addressed the issue on appeal from a Christian family whose members alleged their human rights to educate their own children according to their own religious beliefs are being violated by the ban.
The specific case addressed in the opinion involved Fritz and Marianna Konrad, who filed the complaint in 2003 and argued that Germany’s compulsory school attendance endangered their children’s religious upbringing and promotes teaching inconsistent with the family’s Christian faith.
The court said the Konrads belong to a “Christian community which is strongly attached to the Bible” and rejected public schooling because of the explicit sexual indoctrination programs that the courses there include.
The German court already had ruled that the parental “wish” to have their children grow up in a home without such influences “could not take priority over compulsory school attendance.” The decision also said the parents do not have an “exclusive” right to lead their children’s education.
The family had appealed under the European Convention on Human Rights statement that: “No person shall be denied the right to education. In the exercise of any functions which it assumes in relation to education and to teaching, the State shall respect the right of parents to ensure such education and teaching is in conformity with their own religious and philosophical convictions.”
But the court’s ruling said, instead, that schools represent society, and “it was in the children’s interest to become part of that society.
“The parents’ right to education did not go as far as to deprive their children of that experience,” the ruling said.
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