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Tennessee

June 15, 2009
Lawmakers Urge Germany to Let Parents Homeschool

The Tennessee House of Representatives recently adopted House Resolution 87, “[a] resolution calling on the Federal Republic of Germany to recognize the rights of parents to raise their children….” The legislature further resolved that the clerk of the House is “authorized and directed to transmit an appropriate copy” of the resolution to the Federal Republic of Germany.

State Representative John DeBarry proposed the resolution, which recognizes “the importance of religious liberties and the right of parents to determine their children’s upbringing and the method in which their education should be provided.” It acknowledges that parental rights are essential to excellence in education and explains that home educated students have demonstrated “high standards of academic achievement and citizenship.” It then urges the Federal Republic of Germany to “recognize the basic, fundamental rights of parents and allow its citizens to determine the educational upbringing of their own children.”

The Tennessee House notes that “the Federal Republic of Germany infringes upon the parental rights of its citizens to direct their children’s education, using threats of imprisonment, seizure of their children, and other forms of coercion.”

The plight of German homeschoolers continues to gain international attention. The Associated Press reported on March 31 about the Romeike family, who fled Germany and moved to Morristown, Tennessee to seek political asylum from the repressive tactics of German authorities who will not allow homeschooling. HSLDA is supporting the family in its first-of-a-kind application.

HSLDA Staff Attorney Michael Donnelly coordinates the nonprofit advocacy organization’s work on behalf of persecuted homeschoolers in Germany.

“Germany sticks out in the midst of Western Europe for its harsh repression of parents,” Donnelly said. “They have this notion that homeschooling creates this parallel society, and they deem that as dangerous. I’m pleased that two of our United States, Georgia and now Tennessee, have recognized by legislative act that homeschooling is a fundamental right of parents and that all freedom-loving nations should protect it as such.”

The AP reported that Lutz Gorgens, German consul general for the Southeast United States, said he’s not familiar with the Romeikes’ specific situation but believes the claim of persecution is “far-fetched.” He defended Germany’s requirements for public education.

“For reasons deeply rooted in history and our belief that only schools properly can ensure the desired level of excellent education, we (Germany) go a little bit beyond that path which other countries have chosen,” Gorgens said.

“HSLDA has been reporting for nearly a decade about the persecution of parents who seek to provide a quality education at home for their children. Parents in Germany who seek to do this face severe recriminations from local and state school and family welfare officials,” said Mike Smith, president of HSLDA. “I’m pleased that we are able to help a family like this.”

Donnelly noted that the repercussions for homeschooling in Germany are indeed severe.

“Families have had the state take custody of their children, have been fined tens of thousands of dollars and have even been sentenced to prison, all because they have sought to educate their children at home,” said Donnelly. “Scores of families have fled Germany to surrounding nations where almost universally homeschooling is either tolerated or encouraged by the law. HSLDA is committed to encouraging policy makers in Germany to confront this issue and make positive changes that respect the right of parents to direct their children’s education.”