Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Teach Your Children, Go To Jail

Two parents that have been homeschooling their nine children for religious reasons have been arrested in Germany and sentenced to several months in jail. Their only crime? Teaching their own children math. And reading. And writing. And ethics. And religion. And science. Seven of the family's children were taken away from the parents in a surprise raid in January and remain in state custody. Since then, the parents have been allowed to see their children for only two hours per month. Oh, there must have been something else going on, you might think. Nope. There has been a marked increase in the government going after homeschoolers. There used to be fines of 900 euros or more. Now there are parents being thrown in jail. Families are leaving the country and going to any of the neighboring countries were homeschooling is a perfectly legal choice.

Homeschooling has been illegal in Germany since Hitler banned it in 1938. Current government officials claim that homeschooling causes "the emergence of parallel societies based on separate philosophical convictions" that could be taught by parents at home. The German court also said that parents do not have an exclusive right to lead their children's education.

I now have 1,001 reasons to be so hugely grateful that I live in the United States. I can go to shul (okay, so maybe we need bullet-proof glass and security guards at our sanctuary doors for every holiday, but at least we can GO!). We can spend our money as we see fit. And we can educate our children as we think best. I will not be taking the choice for granted. And I hope I never let a moment go by when I am not grateful that we have clean water, good educational resources, good medicine, HUGE homes, and relative security. Thank you, Hashem!

One last note... the only other country where it is illegal to homeschool (as far as I know) is China.


Jesi and Joe said...

Wow, that's incredible. Thanks for sharing, I had no idea where homeschooling was/was not allowed. What a tragedy for that family. I hope they are reunited soon!

The Six of Us said...

That is horrible.
I was walking by a school the other day (okay, this spring) and saw little ones (K) doing their work at their desks. As I had my 4 year old in tow, I could not imagine sending him in there and not being allowed to stay and make sure I approved what his little mind was learning.
It will no doubt be challenging to homeschool, but what a blessing we have to be able to do it freely!

mavibu said...

My SIL is from Austria and she says HS is illegal there, too.