We Americans tend to take our right to homeschool for granted. But citizens of other countries face tremendous obstacles to educational choice—from limited information to legal prosecution. Recent developments in Germany show the positive impact our encouragement, prayer, and action can have on homeschooling freedom in other countries.
photo courtesy of Chris Klicka
Neuschwanstein castle near Hahenschwangau, Germany.
Last October, a reporter from one of the largest television stations in Germany contacted Home School Legal Defense Association Senior Counsel Christopher Klicka regarding a 30-minute program on America's reaction to 9/11. Intrigued by the concept of homeschooling, reporter Peter Adler devoted over 10 minutes of the show to this idea while he interviewed the Klicka family at their home. After the show was broadcast to millions of Germans, the station was inundated with inquiries about homeschooling.
When the Klicka family visited Germany in December, Adler filmed part of their overseas field trip along with other homeschooling families. This footage will be combined into an hour-long, prime time show on homeschooling to be aired later this year. Such a feature is especially timely in light of an Italian study of 28 nations that ranked Germany almost last in education, falling behind many other countries including Hungary and the Czech Republic. The results have shaken Germans' confidence in their public school system, and they are beginning to seek alternatives.
While in Germany, Klicka spoke to over 120 American homeschoolers from several U.S. military bases in Europe. He explained the new Defense Reauthorization Act amendment that allows military homeschoolers to receive educational and extra-curricular services from military schools overseas. He also reported that the Bush Administration had pressured the military into abandoning recent attempts to regulate homeschoolers. (Read HSLDA's e-lert at http://www.hslda.org/elert/archive/2002/02/20020201164436.asp.)
Klicka also spoke at a homeschool seminar organized by a German legal defense association, School Instruction at Home, which works for the realization of parents' constitutionally guaranteed rights to educate their children. (See January/February 2001 Court Report for background on School Instruction at Home.)
photo courtesy of Chris Klicka
HSLDA Senior Counsel Chris Klicka (with translator on right) addresses the first conference sponsored by School Instruction at Home in Southern Germany.
It is not an easy step for a German couple to choose to homeschool their children. School At Home estimates that there are about 300 families currently homeschooling, and authorities have brought many to court. Thanks to HSLDA member families' international pressure on German officials and hard work by School Instruction at Home lawyer Gabriele Eckermann, the prosecuted families avoided jail sentences or major fines. Please pray especially for constitutional attorney Ronald Reichert as he appeals a ruling by the Baden state high court against the Konrads, a homeschooling family, to Germany's federal supreme court.
School Instruction at Home's board is planning new informational brochures for homeschoolers, setting legal defense strategies for homeschoolers, and creating an advisory board.
Working with School Instruction at Home in Germany is another organization—HEART—that supports the U.S. military European homeschool community through organizing field trips, networking homeschoolers serving overseas, and hosting an annual conference. HEART President Bill Wagner reports that the group has about 400 members.
We are thankful God is opening the door for homeschooling in Germany.
For more information, contact:
CAOC 4, Messtetten
APO AE 09131
School Instruction at Home
Richard & Ingrid Guenther