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Homeschooling in Germany

The edited version of the show with Rina talking about her experiences homeschooling in Germany is finally available.  It is much better without all the dead air.  At the start, I talk a little about my experience in Germany and how my first visit to Berlin affected me.  I wanted to share a few of my pictures, but seem to only have one uploaded here on my blog.  Next weekend, I’ll try to upload some more for those of you who are curious.  This is not part of the monument I referenced, but is graffiti across the street from where the wall used to be.

Berlin Wall

Across the top in red, it reads “At some time, every wall falls.”  I believe it was written before the wall actually fell.  And this cartoon illustrates the difficulty in unification I mentioned:

The little Ziggy-like figure with the night cap is known as “Der Deutsche Michel” (The German Michel) and is a sort of symbol of the nation akin to Uncle Sam here.  The problem of unification is well represented here as there are two Deutsche Michel.

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European Commission to open dialogue with Germany regarding homeschooling

Perhaps a little light in the darkness for homeschoolers in Germany, many of whom are foreigners. Catherina (better known around here as Rina) recently traveled to Brussels to make her presenation before the European Parliament Petitions Committee regarding Germany’s persecution of homeschoolers, specifically those of other nationalities homeschooling in Germany.  The presentation reportedly went well.  The commission expressed reluctance to meddle with the laws of member nations, however…and this was a big however…they were willing to open a dialogue with Germany to try to persuade lawmakers to consider accepting homeschooling as a viable educational alternative at least in some cases.  Of course, any allowance provides hope for future broadening of the law.

Congratulations, Rina!  The following is the press release:

European Commission to open dialogue with Germany on their hypocritical home schooling law following Irish petition

    A petition on a ban on home schooling, hosted by Kathy Sinnott, MEP for Ireland South, was discussed in the European Parliament Petitions Committee this morning. Catherina Groeneveld, the petitioner and an Irish citizen married to a South African, travelled to Brussels to present her petition to the Petitions Committee and Commission.
    Catherina and her family moved to Germany temporarily because of her husband’s job. She chose for linguistic and other reasons to home-school her children while in Germany. She was surprised to find that not only was home schooling illegal, home schoolers were subject to persistent harassment by local authorities.
    Catherina lodged a petition with the Petitions Committee in 2007 making the case that Germany’s education policy contradicts the freedom of workers within the EU. She as an Irish citizen has a constituted right to educate her children and Germany’s refusal to accommodate her makes it hard for her family to work in Germany. This is in clear contradiction to the EU’s mobility of workers. In her presentation, the petitioner pointed out that foreigners who home school their children are subject to harassment, fines, jail sentences, removal of their children by the Jugendamt (children’s courts) and criminalisation. 15 out of the 16 German States allow exemptions but only to circus children and young people who have music careers. These exemptions do not extend to foreigners. Such families who wish to home school their children are subjected to draconian measures. Catherina points out that if her family were German citizens living in Ireland, they would be encouraged by the German authorities who would offer her the national curriculum to teach her children at home. The petitioner asked the Petitions Committee to help the German Government rectify this hypocrisy.
    The Petitions Committee have been paying close attention to this petition and both the Committee and the Commission congratulated the petitioner on an impressive presentation. The Commission have decided to open a dialogue to put this issue on the agenda of their regular meetings with Germany. The Petitions Committee is already embarking on a report of abuses by the Jugendamt towards non-German parents and has decided to include this aspect in the report. German law, unlike Ireland, identifies the State as the principle authority responsible for a child’s rights not his or her parents. Germany has the highest rate of children taken into care from their parents by the State in the EU.
    Kathy Sinnott, Vice President of the Petitions Committee, stated “This petition brings into question workers’ mobility. One of the guarantees of the internal market is the freedom of movement of workers in the EU. There is an increasing awareness that workers have families and that flexibility to meet their needs should be part of employment law. However, Germany’s approach to home schooling compromises this and forces families to choose between a job and the best interests of the children. The need for family friendly employment policies must be recognised throughout the EU. We need to have flexibility in the education of children temporarily resident because of work. There is also an issue around the attitude to non-German families in the German children’s courts. I hope the dialogue between the Commission and the German State will resolve this discriminatory situation.”

And an excerpt from the petition:

We are not asking anyone here or in the European Commission to interfere with German law or the German school system.  As I have stated, there are numerous opportunities for the German authorities to generously allow the exceptions that already exist in German law.  The fact that celebrities who have a thriving pop music or acting career are granted such exceptions without a second glance whilst families such as ours and others whose children have very real educational needs that are not met within the German school system are subjected to draconian measures demonstrates the malicious intent behind such treatment.

You may read the entire petition here.