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Germany cracks down on home schooling

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WADE PAYNE / AP / FILE

(Read caption) Uwe Romeike and his wife Hannelore work with their children at home in Morristown, Tenn., in this March 13, 2009, photo. The couple have moved into a modest duplex home while they seek political asylum because they say they were persecuted for their religious beliefs by home schooling their young children in Germany.

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The facets that define a totalitarian state are often hard to discern; there is always the risk of pushing the argument too far, evoking unsuitable analogies with the fascist governments of the last century. Nevertheless, a spade is spade, and this story of the persecution of a German family point to a dangerous state of affairs.

After the police came knocking, dragging their children off to school, Uwe and Hannalore Romeike and their three children applied for, and were thankfully granted, asylum in the US. Their crime? Educating their children in their home, rather than at school. Judge Lawrence O. Burman, a federal immigration judge in Tennessee, determined that they had a reasonable fear of persecution for their beliefs if they returned. He described the German Government’s actions as “repellent to everything we believe as Americans”.

Germany is not alone. In Sweden, a coalition led by a so-called Liberal party is getting tough on homeschooling, with the proposed introduction of a bill that would only allow home education under extraordinary circumstances. It would also allow the imposition of criminal sanctions on those parents that refused to supplicate to the will of the state.

And in the UK, the government is ignoring the Schools Select Committee in its call to make the registration of home-educated children voluntary. The Department for Children, Schools and Families (DCSF) defends its position as follows: “we cannot understand the logic of making it voluntary”. I can help them answer their confusion: because these children are not owned by the state.

There is much talk of how under Obama the US is becoming a socialist dystopia. Sure, things are bad and getting worse, but as the asylum offered to the German home educators illustrates, they still have a fair way to fall before they hit the strictures on freedom infesting the Old World.

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