When I was in seventh grade, my father had to make a business trip to Washington, DC. It was during the fall and I was in school. He and my mother spoke to Mr. Graham, the principal of Robert F. Kennedy Junior High School in Charlotte, where I attended, and asked if it would be ok if I missed a week of school to join them on the trip to DC. I have to wonder if there are any principals today that would answer as he did. My principal approved my absence because he thought I would learn more during a trip to DC with my parents than I would by spending that week in his school. Perhaps I could give a report when I returned.
Well, I don’t remember giving a report, not that I would ever have wanted to do that because I was painfully shy. Nor do I really remember the trip to DC all that well. I know I saw monuments and the Smithsonian, plus I have a picture in my mind of the Potomac. What I do remember most, however, is the principal’s attitude. “All learning does not happen in school. Parents have something significant to contribute to their children’ learning that the schools cannot” he said (if not in those exact words).
Back then we took for granted my principal’s acknowledgement that parents have the right to determine how their children spend their time.
Did Mr. Graham influence our decision to home school our four children? Perhaps. I expect the Charlotte-Mecklenburg School System’s focus on making sure the schools had the right racial balance and, thus, sending me to four different schools in six years had a greater influence. That, and the other thousand cuts I experienced during my public school experience, made it clear to me that the system was not all that interested in my needs or desires as a student. I was just part of the machine.
After three years of having our kids in the local public school system, we decided to home school our children. We were free to do that because home schooling has been legal in Florida since 1985 and in all fifty states since the late 1980’s. Home schoolers in general believe that directing the education of their children is a fundamental right, which should not be denied. Many people worked hard and risked jail to get that right acknowledged by law. Unfortunately, it is becoming very apparent that we cannot take our current freedom to home school for granted.
In 2008, a German family by the name of Romieke came to the United States legally and were later granted asylum by a U.S. Immigration judge in 2010. Their reason for wanting to stay in the U.S. was because they were being persecuted in Germany because they refused to send their children to the government schools and had chosen to home school instead. Like the United States, Germany has compulsory schooling laws. Unlike the United States, Germany does not consider homeschooling a legal alternative to government schooling. If they return to Germany, they face harsh fines as well as the possibility of losing custody of their children, as the Wunderlich family has lost custody of theirs.
Unfortunately, Eric Holder’s Justice Department decided to take on the unfortunate Romieke family. In spite of all the illegals pouring over our border, the Justice Department sees a particular danger in allowing this one home schooling family to remain in the United States. Holder wants them sent home. Home schooling is not a basic freedom that should be protected under our laws of asylum, according to our leadership. On Tuesday, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the administration’s denial of asylum to the Romieke family. The Home School Legal Defense Association plans to appeal that decision.
Why is this family not welcome in the United States? It used to be that people who wanted freedom could count on the US to support them. We fought a cold war to stop the spread of communism around the world because we wanted to see other people enjoy the benefits of freedom rather than live lives prescribed by the all-pervasive state. State by state, we have recognized the basic freedom that parents have to direct the upbringing and education of their children. We understand the desire of the many illegal immigrants to come to a place where they are free to earn a living (or mooch off the taxpayers) so well that we are in the midst of a massive immigration policy overhaul that could give citizenship to millions, but we have no room for the Romieke’s. Why?
It is clear to me that our ever-expanding government has no interest in people who just want to be left alone to live their lives. Home schoolers are a danger to the ever-encroaching state. They don’t want to be dependent on government and they value freedom over government largess. Our current leaders do not want parents to raise independent thinkers; they need people to depend on government so that they can expand their power. The best way to do that is for them to control what the children are taught.
Hitler knew that, and he banned home schooling in Germany in 1937. That law has never been repealed, which is why the Romieke’s are in the situation they are in.
Eric Holder has acknowledged that he does not see home schooling as a fundamental right, despite the battles that our predecessors fought in the states in the latter part of the last century. If parents do not have the right to direct their children’s education, are we really free? If we cannot find a place for this model family, are we still the “land of the free?” Pray that the HSLDA is successful in their appeal, because if we are not free to choose how our children will be educated, well, we are just not free at all.