Adolf Hitler and the Third Reich outlawed homeschooling in Germany in 1938, and the edict has been in effect ever since. In recent years, however, the effort to uphold this law in the country has ramped up, with the German Supreme Court stating that the purpose of the ban being to “counteract the development of religious and philosophically motivated parallel societies.”
But this foreign fight over education is now affecting Americans thanks in part to the Romeike family, who fled from Germany to the United States in 2008 so they could homeschool their children. They’ve been in a high-profile fight to avoid deportation after a decision granting them asylum was overturned. While still in Germany, the family accrued more than $10,000 in fines and the forcible removal of their children.
Germany’s decision to uphold this remnant of Nazism flies in the face of the United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which states in Article 26, section 3: “Parents have a prior right to choose the kind of education that shall be given to their children.” Germany’s blatant disregard of this declaration seems to underscore again just how impotent the United Nations has become, even among those who enjoy full membership and a non-permanent seat on its security council.
But Germany’s law and the struggle over family-based education is a harbinger of a conversation that I believe will undoubtedly come to America in the near future. While it is difficult to imagine the United States government outlawing homeschooling altogether, decisions will need to be made that will determine how easy or difficult it might be for a family to choose this option.
So where should religious people stand on homeschooling?