U.S. Justice Department court filing rejected a German home schooling family’s application for asylum in the US is in trouble after initially being accepted. The Romeikes, a home schooling family with five home schooled children are being represented by the Home School Legal Defense Association, while the Obama administration want them to be sent back to Germany.
Germany has a national law requiring children to either attend public school or a government-approved private school.
The Romeikes had already been fined and German police once forcibly escorted their five children to school. They were notified that they could ultimately lose custody if they continued to home school. […]
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While this is not India, it is worrisome snapshot of the world, because it is an example of how the interest of children and home schooling families is fragile if the country’s law makes it tougher for them. Immigration appeals or asylum laws both seem indifferent to alternative education programmes, leaving home schooling families and other special education initiatives entirely at the mercy of the national education machine. Without the support of organizations like Home School Legal Defense Association, it can be overwhelming for individual families to ensure their rights.
With the RTE Act, India is well on the road of the absurd “free and compulsory” – whatever that means. Home schooling families in India are already wary of the directive for every child to be in school and seeking alternatives, while special education organizations working among marginalized communities are scrambling to save themselves when their highly educated post-graduate volunteers are not enough to rescue their organization from a short sighted Act that requires qualified teachers who are not available in the numbers dictated by the act.
I doubt if that definition of “free and compulsory” is going to include the freedom to learn that home schooling nurtures or indeed any freedom of education other than the lack of educational fees. While at the moment, the government is hardly applying it, home schoolers are already vulnerable to malicious accusations of abuse or deprivation of education that could get them into trouble with the law. Because a carelessly crafted law does not recognize home schooling families or special education or alternative education programmes as any different from depriving children of opportunities to learn.
There are initiatives like “Swashikshan” (self-learning/teaching) which, while not Home School Legal Defense Association, have seen home schooling families connected and organizing to share resources. I hope we are able to suggest some framework for home schooling eventually, ideally with as much credibility as the Home School Legal Defense Association, or at least a recognized body, before the law strangles diversity of learning here as well.
It is unbelievable to imagine that a country like Germany (which gave enough and uprecedented votes to a Pirate Party – that extraordinary political endorsement of freeing knowledge, and going beyond regimented structures to find what works) persecutes home schooling families to the point where a family must worry about losing its children is very worrying for a country like India, where enforcement of laws is arbitrary and human rights are not an issue.
Update: Must read – Ann Althouse writes an excellent post asking why the German family is seeking asylum in the United States, when they have free movement in the European region and could easily go to another European country.
- Why are those German home-schooling parents seeking asylum in the United States?(althouse.blogspot.com)