EDUCATION: by Bill MuehlenbergNews Weekly
The war against home-schooling our children
, July 25, 2009
Children are our future. The way our children develop determines how society develops. When ideological battles are being fought in a culture, children are the trophy. Those who can control the children will be able to control a culture.
That is why totalitarian states always seek to get control of children, especially from very early ages. The totalist state knows that years of parents' interaction with their children will drive a wedge between them and the state. Thus it becomes imperative not to allow parents to inculcate their beliefs and values in their children.
This is not new thinking. Plato spoke of the need for the state to take children away from their parents. He thought the state, not the parents, was best placed to educate children. And throughout history that has been the case with authoritarian states.
Hitler's Germany is a case in point. In 1937, the Nazis established the Jugendamt
(Youth Welfare Office). Its creation was part of an edict Hitler delivered to ensure that children would be subservient to Nazi ideology. Among other things, this edict ordered all children into state schools, and made home-schooling illegal.
As Hitler said at the time, "The Youth of today is ever the people of tomorrow. For this reason we have set before ourselves the task of inoculating our youth with the spirit of this community of the people at a very early age, at an age when human beings are still unperverted and therefore unspoiled. This Reich stands, and it is building itself up for the future, upon its youth. And this new Reich will give its youth to no one, but will itself take youth and give to youth its own education and its own upbringing."
Sadly, however, even some "free" democratic states today seem to fare little better. Children are still being fought over, with states and parents contesting who gets to educate them. Consider Germany again. Today it is a modern Western democracy.
But incredibly, the Jugendamt
has never been disbanded, and the law against home-schooling still stands. The Jugendamt
still has the power to snatch children away from their parents when they are considered to be "endangered". Thus home-schooling families in Germany today are still very much under threat.Persecution
While there may be only 300 to 500 such families in Germany today, many are considering leaving the country, since government persecution is still taking place. A number of such cases have taken place of late. Consider this tragic case involving Hans and Petra Schmidt, residents of southern Bavaria, as described by LifeSiteNews.com
(July 10, 2009):
"Despite having educated their two children, Josua, 16, and Aaron, 14, for over nine years with great success, the government earlier this year initiated proceedings against the Schmidts as part of a clampdown on home-schooling families."
Religion is often a motivating factor for such home-schooling: "According to the International Human Rights Group (IHRG), the Schmidts are committed Christians, who chose to educate their children at home in order to preserve their two sons from the hostile moral and secular environment of German public schools."
The heavy hand of German law is seeking to crush this "rebellious" family: "The state has levelled heavy fines on the Schmidt family to the tune of a staggering €13,000 (US$18,300), which has broken their finances and pushed them to the brink of bankruptcy. Hans Schmidt has only a modest income through assisting those with disabilities to learn a trade at a vocational centre. With the family unable to pay all 26 fines, the government has placed a lien on their home. ...
"According to IHRG, the Schmidts have made a good faith effort to prove to the authorities the effectiveness of their home-schooling - both sons were tested by school officials and proved their excellent academic and social competencies. Josua, 16, was awarded his high school diploma after scoring very high on the state exams, which are mandatory for graduation. Although Aaron also scored very high, German law makes him ineligible to receive his diploma until he is 16-years-old, requiring him to continue compulsory school attendance in the state school system."
IHRG president Joel Thornton said, "It shows how much the German system hates permitting anyone to step outside accepted government educational practices. If they were merely concerned with education they would not stop families who have proven their ability to match the state's abilities. In this case, however, the success of the family is not slowing down the government. We have to work with these families or Germany will soon be without any home-school families. That type of an ending will embolden other countries, like Sweden, to follow in Germany's steps and that would mean the beginning of the end of parental rights like home-schooling in Europe."
In fact, the EU has already sided with the German authorities against home-schooling families; and, throughout the Western world, states are increasingly taking an adversarial role against parents, seeking to influence - or coerce - children into their version of events, instead of that of their parents.
When freedom comes under threat in one part of the West, it has an impact on the entire Western world. Thus we need to be aware of what is happening in Germany. The time may soon come when similar steps are taken here. To be forewarned is to be forearmed.Bill Muehlenberg is a commentator on contemporary issues, and lectures on ethics and philosophy. His website CultureWatch is at: www.billmuehlenberg.com
Peter J. Smith, "German government levels crippling fines, threatens to seize custody of son from homeschooling family", LifeSiteNews.com
, July 10, 2009. URL: www.lifesitenews.com/ldn/2009/jul/09071009.html
Peter J. Smith, "European human rights court rules state may deny parents right to home school their children", LifeSiteNews.com
, September 27, 2006. URL: www.lifesitenews.com/ldn/2006/sep/06092708.html