On February 12th I posted Eric Holder: Banning Homeschooling Doesn’t Violate Fundamental Rights. That provided a perspective from the viewpoint of lawyers and journalists. Here is a link to post that provides a mother’s perspective.
On the Homeschool Battleground of the Culture War
Via Lady Liberty 1885 comes homeschooling news I’m rather embarrassed I didn’t know: one of the German families persecuted for homeschooling has petitioned for asylum in the United States, and Eric Holder’s DOJ is fighting this grant of asylum in federal court.
Eric Holder thinks there is no fundamental right to homeschool. So if all Germans are banned from homeschooling, no grounds for political asylum exist.
Maybe I’m not so surprised. Eric Holder and his ilk don’t really believe in natural rights generally, do they? To top it off, homeschooling is a right-wing-extremist-bitter-clinging-Bible-thumper’s issue, so combating it would be instinctual.(continued here)
Read on and you will discover why, with any luck, school choice will be this century’s civil rights issue. Does NoOneOfAnyImport call it a civil rights issue? No. She is thinking about the Culture War, a coercive ruling class and the abuse of government power. Nonetheless, it boils down to civil rights and a form of enslavement. The ruling class — the people with power — want to keep the power they have, they want more power. Therefore, just as the slave owners of the past worked hard to keep their slaves dependent, our rulers want us to think we cannot run our own lives and see to the proper education of our own children. Instead, even though they send their own children to private schools, we must surrender our children to the state for indoctrination.
Perhaps I was not giving you credit for an extreme enough position, Tom. Are you arguing that there should not be public education? Your penultimate comment seems to say that the mere existence of public schools is contrary to a religious life. If that’s your point, I don’t agree with it. I went to public schools and never, ever saw the slightest inhibition on the exercise of religion. I prayed all the time. Nobody knew, nobody cared (with the hopeful -on my part- exception of God).
You also seem to have some notion that I oppose home-schooling. I don’t. I think it’s great. My next door neighbors home-schooled five adopted children. It worked for some of the kids, not for others. My only point is that it’s not for everyone and that , in fairness to the children, they should be at least as well prepared for life by home-schooling as are their peers in private and public schools. By the way, this has nothing to do with my inherent humility. I just don’t think that home-schooling works for everyone. I also don’t think public schools work for everyone.
Noone: the government’s brief is obtainable on-line. I work in a capacity where I read all these things. If I were technically more adept, I could link it, but it will take you about three minutes max to locate it. From memory, however, I can tell you that the government’s position is not that the German government’s position on compulsory public education is religious persecution. The US Government argues that asylum under INA is circumscribed to four or five criteria, none of which apply here. They make the point that parents in Germany are free to educate their children as they see fit outside of required school attendance . After you read it, we can talk. I can affirm, however, that the US brief does not attack homeschooling in the United States (or Germany, for that matter).
“the government’s brief is obtainable on-line.”
I’ll take that as a refusal to flesh out that “good argument” you “submitted” earlier. Okay then.
“The US Government argues that asylum under INA is circumscribed to four or five criteria, none of which apply here.”
Nice attempt to use an argument you have refused to actually submit.
The 4 or 5 criteria to which you refer are race, religion, nationality, political opinion, and social group. I could reasonably argue that social group and political opinion apply, but the most obvious criterion is religion.
My argument is that the Romeikes’ decision to homeschool constitutes the private practice of religion thru the religious instruction of their children.
Want to take another stab at your argument that their decision to homeschool is not religiously based?
best to all.
nooneofanyimport – For novascout, this is par for the course. He writes well, but he does not like giving a straight answer.
novascout — You can’t cut and paste a URL into a comment box? That excuse sounds a bit thin. What is your real reason for not giving nooneofanyimport’s questions straight answers?
Here is a straight answer for you. Do I have an extreme position? No. When parents want politicians to direct the education of their children, I have to admit I think that is dumb. I don’t trust politicians, and I don’t worship government. However, government-run schools have been in business for decades, and many parents think that’s the best way educate their children. So I would be an idiot if I expected everyone to change just to please me. If parents want government to educate their children, I am okay with it. I just want those parents to pay their own freight and leave the rest of us alone.
What I have trouble with is fools who insist upon dragging innocent bystanders into their stupidity. When we sin, what does our human nature require? To cover our shame, don’t we want others to share in our foolishness? Doesn’t that explain what happens when people smoke, drink, have abortions, or commit other sins? Does everyone else really have to participate in smoking, drinking, killing the unborn, and so forth? Of course not, but isn’t the peer pressure to do so considerable?
Similarly, when parents educate their children in the public school system, does everyone else have to do the same? Of course not, but we still get a ridiculous amount pressure for everyone to participate, and that’s for a school system that is notoriously ineffective.
Anyway, here is a link to a brief, just not the one you talked about:
Click to access RomeikeBrief.pdf
This case is on appeal. Say what you want about the case, the Romeike’s seem to won in court once already by making a case for asylum.
No doubt that court victory horrified the Democrats. Can you imagine how Obama and his teacher union allies must feel about the prospect of European homeschooling parents flooding into this country with their children? 😆
🙂 Well, I do enjoy trying to pin down a slippery debate from time to time.
You bring up an interesting point Tom: this must be a test case–the first attempt to claim refugee status based on homeschool persecution. Or else the gov’t wouldn’t really be able to contest it, would they?
nooneofanyimport – They should not be able to contest it, but we have set our constitution aside. With a straight face, lawyers ignore the ninth and tenth amendments and pretend the Department of Education is constitutional.
The idea of small communities coming together to set up schools for their children makes sense. The idea that cities and counties need to run public schools just deprives private alternatives of money. The idea that state governments need to run public schools practically eliminates competition. The idea that our entire nation needs to come together and put Congress in charge of our education system is just plain insane. Why doesn’t anybody ever bother to explain why we need to entrust politicians both with our children and that much money? What exactly can politicians do at the national level that cannot be done better by local communities, church groups or the market place? And what makes us think we can trust politicians to do it right?
I’m the one who is disclaiming knowing what God thinks, Tom. My humility on that score knows no limits. How humble can I get? To answer your question directly, I don’t know where people who tell other people where to educate their children get the gall to do that, since I don’t have that kind of gall. But wherever it is, I would not be very convinced if they premised their arguments on their being privy to God’s thoughts. I suspect that the number of people who really know what God is thinking is a very small number, much smaller than the number of people who either pretend to know or believe that they know what God thinks. Your comment implies that people being in on God’s inner thoughts are far more numerous than I think they are.
Back to the post. We have a parallel educational structure in this country. It’s highly decentralized, with strong local control and relatively little national government involvement (although this latter point has been changing over the past couple of decades). In most other countries, education is very much geared to national standards. We also have a considerable private education structure, from K-12 up to the university level. I am not aware of government seeking to “own and operate our entire education system”. I can’t imagine what it would cost to take over even one school like Stanford (which just raised $1 billion for its endowment), let alone every school in the country.
I think we are fairly permissive about home schooling. One reason is that it is recognized that some of the motivation for home schooling is religious-based and we still have a strong culture of government avoiding interference with religion. But the problems are difficult ones. As I said before, successful home schooling requires a mix of the right parent and the right student. My grandmother was illiterate until her children taught her to read. That’s an extreme case, but there are a lot of parents who should not be teaching, for example, algebra or Latin.
A strong education system is essential to national security and economic well-being. Public education has, over the life of the Nation, contributed immensely to upward economic mobility for disadvantaged children. The standards issue is not easily dismissed. You yourself have recognized it at the extreme end in your last comment. I have some real reservations about the efficacy of a lot of public education programs. One of my kids was educated at a private church-affiliated school, the other at a public school that has an excellent reputation. I saw things at each that i thought could be done better. I think, on balance, however, the children both got better educations than they would if my wife and I had tried to educate them at home. For other families, that might not hold true.
But the post, of course, is addressing German state policy and whether it meets the criteria for political asylum in this country. I submit that there is a good argument that the asylum device was not intended to cover this sort of issue and that it is problematic for US courts to rule that the national educational policy of a European ally is a violation of “fundamental rights” under the INA. The test of that proposition is to reverse it and ask whether we would be thrilled with a French or German court ruling that our education system violates fundamental human rights.
Scout – Nope! You are not claiming to know what God thinks. You are just claiming to be more humble than anyone else. 🙄
What any belief about God involves is claiming to know something about the will of God. Atheists claim God has no will; He does not exist. That is the height of arrogance. Christians just claim to know what is in the Bible.
Freedom of religion is not just about the freedom to worship. It involves the freedom to put one’s beliefs into practice. That includes passing our beliefs onto our children. You want rationalize that government-run education does not interfere with that? I cannot stop you, but it is self-evident that it does. When homeschooling obviously threatens neither, that’s why you have to drag in nonsense excuses like national security and economic well-being.
Anyway, it seems to me you have sounding reasonable confused with applying reason. If you believe in freedom of religion, then to put that belief into practice, you have to let your neighbors live in peace. You cannot pressure them to educate their children your way — and then say you are not doing just that. No! You are too humble for that.
“I submit that there is a good argument that the asylum device was not intended to cover this sort of issue.” Oh okay, I’ll bite Novascout. What is that argument? Like this? “The Romeike family has not been persecuted for their decision to homeschool their children because . . . (fill in argument here).” Or is it, “the Romeikes’ decision to homeschool does not constitute the private practice of religion thru the religious instruction of their children because . . . (argument here).”
How would you flesh the argument out? The fact that the nation they are fleeing is a European ally isn’t part of the test, I don’t think, though.
Say, Tom, thanks for the reblog! I like your take on the civil rights aspect. I’d sure feel violated if I were coerced into using state schools by threat of the state taking my children away if I don’t
How did I miss your post on this issue on the 12th? I’ll have to go check it out.
Happy Friday all,
nooneofanyimport – That should keep him occupied. 😀
I’m afraid I’m somewhat sceptical about your premise that Hitler improved the German school system, Tom. You might want to elaborate on that a bit, but I’m disinclined to jump in with you.
Homeschoolers here should be concerned about what our attitude in America is toward home-schooling. We are generally permissive, within the qualification that we want all our students to meet certain minimum standards (determined state-by-state) as a condition of receiving high school equivalency.
Other countries have to reach their own conclusions based on their circumstances and requirements.
You have interjected another subject, but I’ll take it up: I agree that it would be amazing wisdom to know “what God thinks. . . .”, but I fear that is a standard beyond mortal comprehension. It is certainly beyond mine.
novascout – Elaborate on how Hitler improved German education? Here are a couple of posts that speak to the matter.
Beyond that, I think you perfectly capable of doing your own research. Whether you will reach a sensible conclusion or not I don’t know. I am still amazed by your inability to recognize and comprehend sarcasm. However, I suppose that is why you can say something like this and be totally serious.
Should government make certain children are taught to certain minimum standards? Given that not teaching children reading, writing and arithmetic is a form of child abuse, I suppose so. Nonetheless, our government is not the least bit permissive. When government seeks to own and operate our entire education system, from the nursery through graduate school, it’s a joke to call it permissive. If only you were trying to be sarcastic, with that whopper you would have topped anything I have ever heard.
And yet consider how you end. By bringing up God, I interjected another subject? What is one of the primary reasons people homeschool their children? If you really don’t think you know what God thinks, then where do you get the gall to tell other people how they should educate their children? If parents want to homeschool their children for religious reasons, how can you presume to tell them they are wrong?
Perhaps you should consider substituting some of that phony humility with the genuine article. None of us have right to play God with other people’s lives.
novascout – Think it through, and consider the improvements Hitler made to German education. Is government-run education an instrument of peace or conformity?
What concerns advocates for homeschooling is the American government’s reaction to this case. It is wrong, regardless of what other people or other countries think.
Try to understand this Bible verse.
The primary responsibility that parents have for their children is teach them wisdom. Parents teach their children wisdom by preparing them for the next life, not this life. Wisdom is knowing and caring about what God thinks, and He wants us to do what is right. When we properly fear God, we do not fear what men think. God expects to love our neighbor, not to bully him or to be his slave.
Because parents care about their children, many have taken up the burden and joy of homeschooling them. They can see government schools concern themselves solely with this life; thus, the education they provide is wholly inadequate. When and if government-run schools teach children about anything God, it is too often to what the Bible teaches.
You want to bring people together in peace? Then teach them about Christ Jesus.
In this case, it is German statism, Tom and AOW. There are a number of countries around the world whose history was such that public education was deemed essential to providing a kind of cultural homogeneity to bring the country together despite a lot of centrifugal history. No doubt homeschooling is superior for some students and some parents (it takes the right combination of both). But an American court is not a very good place to evaluate the German government’s conclusion that homeschooling is not workable in that country. Imagine the uproar if a foreign court held that we were mistaken in this country to permit homeschooling.
As a teacher of homeschool groups since 1998 — mostly in the field of Composition — I can tell you that homeschooling is often better preparation for higher education than the public school system and even some private schools.
Forbidding homeschooling is Statism. Period.
Also, thanks for what you do as a homeschool teacher. That’s can involve lots of very important volunteer work.
I am a paid contracted teacher with some 25 years experience in the classroom before in began teaching groups of homeschoolers.
In Northern Virginia, there are several master teachers that do the same kind of work — albeit for a pittance of a salary (less than 1/2 of the salary of beginning teachers in the public school system).
We master teachers of homeschoolers can be a valuable resource for homeschooling parents. For example, in addition to composition, I also teach foreign language (Spanish and Latin). My major in college was Spanish Literature and Composition.
I have found over the years that most homeschool parents cannot effectively teach composition and foreign language (unless one parent in the household has a degree in foreign language, and most do not have such a degree). Some homeschool dads can effectively teach mathematics — if they have the time to do so.
High school is the point where homeschooling gets real difficult. It is people like you who make it possible to do it well. Thanks again.
Citizen Tom I like a brand of conservatism. I think from memory you like Thomas Paine and his writings. I am rather confused about Mr Paine; was he a Deist or a Theist? I think there are so many collaborations between Theism and Deism that is hard at times to unravel the two. Now I am not trying to trick you but how do you define Deism and Theism in simple terms. I thought the words Deo and Theo meant God. They both believe in God. But we then have Polytheism the worship of many gods. And was Abraham Lincoln a Deist?
Lester John Murray – My about page provides my opinion of Thomas Paine, but you may also find this relevant.
Paine was a Deist. Check out this post for the sort of Deist he was.
Both Christians and Deists are a subset of the group we would call Theists. Both believe in God. Anyone who believes that God exists is a Theist. However, that does not mean Deists believe in the God Jesus told us about. It just means they believe there is a God. Someone who is a Deist does not believe in divine revelation or scriptures. That is, Deists do not believe in the Bible.
I have never heard anyone argue that Abraham Lincoln was a Deist. So I assume he was a Christian. However, give it another hundred years, and there will be people trying to tell us Lincoln was an atheist.
Tom I have read the information that you kindly referred me to. It is interesting to know where the founding fathers stood on religion. Reason to me is ok, I love reason. But reason is not faith so you can be reasonable but lack faith. Thereby acting unfaithful is not a good character. Faithfulness is one of the best truest Godly characteristics that make a person and nation. Faith gives hope but faith and hope are not stand alone s, we need love. I hope the USA constitution was not built just on reason. As I said I love reason. Reason is strong but it needs faith. Reason alone with not make a strong nation. Faith is having good fidelity. Morals are built on faith not just reason alone. We don’t want to think of the USA founding fathers of been immoral, womanisers as such. Reason can protect us from immorality but strong faith gives a surety of a belief in the One God that gives us a understanding of an invisible God who is present in Spirit. There is more than just physical there is what we call spiritual. If we see only physical and not spiritual we lose insight. Insight is needed with reason. Reason without insight is dry. Reason without Spirit is dry. Thank you for your valuable discussion. You seem to be patriotic to your country and that is no bad thing.
Thank you for your kind remarks.
When we are wealthy, we can easily become accustomed to being dependent upon our reason. We can forget just how small and powerless we are.