The Spectacle Blog

Re: German Homeschoolers

By on 9.1.13 | 12:38PM

Aaron Goldstein posted his disagreement with me regarding asylum for German homeschoolers. Let me issue a short response. He says first there is nothing stopping any German family from trying to change the policy. But in this case, it is more than a policy question. The Wunderlich’s freedom of movement is being restricted. As I quoted in my original post, the German authorities have taken the children’s passports (assuming the original report is correct) so the Wunderlichs cannot leave unless they abandon their children. The only way for the Wunderlichs to "change German policy" is to fight through the courts—the same courts that have consistently ruled in favor of the state in these matters since this law passed.

Second, he takes issue with opening up asylum to homeschooling families as it could be taken advantage of. This is a fair point and the potential for that abuse is real. However, it represents a false choice. The question is not either asylum to all homeschooling families or no asylum for any homeschooling families. Rather, it is a question of whether we extend political asylum to homeschooling families from Germany only. Even if we opened asylum to these defined parameters, each case would still be evaluated by the federal powers that be. Additionally, homeschooling families have to reach certain standards of education in the U.S. They are not free to set up any type of education that they want. Thus, Goldstein’s example of folks opening madrassas in their living rooms is reductio ad absurdum.

There are not scores of German homeschoolers. We’re talking about small numbers of people. I would also argue that the right to raise your children as you see fit falls squarely into religious and ethnic identity. There is no denying that most major faiths and many ethnic cultures have particular ideals for how to raise children. The German state has denied the ability of some to raise their children in those ideals and then also denied the families the ability to take on education themselves. In the case of the Wunderlichs, they have also denied their ability to flee the country.

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