Wintery Knight

…integrating Christian faith and knowledge in the public square

German judge rules refuses to give homeschooling parents custody of their children

From the Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA).

Excerpt:

Following a hearing on December 18, 2013, in Darmstadt, Germany, Family Court Judge Marcus Malkmus slammed the door on the Wunderlich family’s emigration hopes. Lawyers for Dirk, Petra, and their children had asked the judge to return legal custody to the parents because they have complied with court orders that the children go to school and because they wish to move to France where homeschooling is legal.

In August 2013 the four Wunderlich children were seized in a raid by 20 police officers and social workers simply because they were being homeschooled, an activity that is illegal in Germany. After an international outcry, the children were returned three weeks later on the condition that the parents send them to public school. Testing conducted on the children during their stay in a group home indicated that they were well adjusted, social, and academically proficient.

In Malkmus’s written order, (an unofficial English translation is available here) he compared homeschooling to a straitjacket for children. While acknowledging that the Wunderlich children were well cared for and did not have educational deficiencies, he refused to return legal custody to the parents.

He said it was necessary to keep the Wunderlich children in German public schools to make sure that they were integrated into society. If they were allowed to be homeschooled in Germany or anywhere else, the consequences might be that “the children would grow up in a parallel society without having learned to be integrated or to have a dialogue with those who think differently and facing them in the sense of practicing tolerance.” Malkmus also wrote that homeschooling creates “concrete endangerment to the wellbeing of the child.”

[...]HSLDA Director of International Affairs Michael Donnelly, who is coordinating HSLDA’s work on behalf of the Wunderlichs, said, “This is a disgraceful court decision. The German constitution and multiple international treaties guarantee the Wunderlichs’ right to leave their country. It’s one thing to disagree with homeschooling and enforce the law, but to prevent an otherwise loving and caring family from leaving because of homeschooling is a monumental violation of basic human rights. Judge Malkmus has effectively imprisoned the Wunderlichs in Germany over their intention to homeschool. It’s the kind of thing that you would expect from a communist bureaucrat in the former Soviet Union, not a modern German court of law.”

So, my advice for homeschoolers is that when you are raising your children, you must understand that the secular left is opposed to homeschooling because they think that government-run schools can educate your children better than you can. If you find that the public schools are not doing a good job of educating your children, then you have no right to pull them out of school, like former Presidential candidate Michele Bachmann did when her children were stuck in an underperforming school. You don’t have a right to raise MIT professors like this one, who was homeschooled. Why is that?

It’s because the government is supported by teachers unions, and the more teachers there are, the more dues are paid to the unions, and the more political contributions the teacher unions make to the party that supports bigger government. It doesn’t matter if your children are learning that the universe is eternal (Carl Sagan), that global warming is real (Al Gore), that premarital sex is a good preparation for marriage (Alfred Kinsey), and so on. You don’t have a right to good education, you have an obligation to pay enormous sums of money to the public schools so that your children can underperform Korean students at math and science.

 

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International tests show US children lagging despite record spending on education

Jay Richards tweeted this article from the Wall Street Journal.

Excerpt:

Since 1998, the Program for International Student Assessment, or Pisa, has ranked 15-year-old kids around the world on common reading, math and science tests. The U.S. brings up the middle—again—among 65 education systems that make up fourth-fifths of the global economy. The triennial Pisa report also shows—again—that East Asian countries like Hong Kong, Japan and South Korea produce the best outcomes.

U.S. performance hasn’t budged in a decade. For 2012, U.S. students placed 26th in mathematics, a bit below the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development average, and 17th in reading and 21st in science, close to the average. The U.S. slipped in all categories compared to international competitors, plunging from 11th in reading as recently as 2009.

American teenagers seem especially weak in core academic subjects with high cognitive demands, such as translating concepts into solutions for real-world problems. A quarter never become proficient in math. In Shanghai and Korea, the comparable figure is 10% or fewer. Some 7% of U.S. students reached the top two scientific performance levels, compared with 17% in Finland and an amazing 27% in Shanghai. Is it tiger moms or tiger schools, or maybe both?

The U.S. is way out front in one measure: per-student spending. Only Austria, Luxembourg, Norway and Switzerland spend more. Despite laying out $115,000 per head, the U.S. did no better than the Slovak Republic, which spends $53,000.

Perhaps most depressingly, the data show no statistically significant U.S. achievement improvement over time. None. In an era when it pays to be thankful for small mercies, at least we’re not getting worse, but America’s relative standing is falling as other countries improve.

[...]Massachusetts has been running public schools since 1635 and today is home to some of the best performers in the nation. The state entered Pisa as if it was its own country—but students of the same age in Shanghai performed as if they had two more years of math instruction than those in the Bay State.

[...]Pisa also adds another count to the bill of indictment for the Democrats who block reform to serve their teachers union patrons. Education Secretary Arne Duncan called the report “a picture of educational stagnation,” but liberals are major impediments to more accountability, merit-based compensation and school-choice competition. The Justice Department has even gone so far as to sue Louisiana to block its modest voucher program, which is a moral crime against the students consigned to failing schools.

There are a few areas of economics that I think that Christians really ought to understand, and education is one of them. We definitely need to be concerned about policies that make it harder for poor, minority students to get ahead. We keep throwing money at the unionized public school system, and we get no results. We need to think about making education more like online shopping. What makes online shopping great is choice and competition. If schools were allowed to compete with one another, then the customer would be assured of getting more quality for less money. The public school system is a monopoly, and it serves the teachers and the education bureaucrats – not the children.

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Police invade home of homeschooling family and seize four children

The UK Daily Mail reports.

Excerpt:

Armed police in Germany launched a terrifying raid on a family’s home to seize their four children after they defied the country’s ban on home schooling.

A team of 20 social workers, police officers, and special agents stormed the home of Dirk and Petra Wunderlich because they refused to send their children to state schools.

The youngsters were taken to unknown locations after officials allegedly ominously promised the parents that they would not be seeing them again ‘any time soon’.

The only legal grounds for the removal of the children, aged from seven to 14, were the family’s insistence on home schooling their children, with no other allegations of abuse or neglect.

According to court documents obtained and translated by the Home Schooling Legal Defense Association (HSLDA), officials did not even allege that the parents had failed to provide an adequate education.

The raid took place on Thursday morning at 8am at the Wunderlichs’ home near Darmstadt, 25 miles south of Frankfurt, in south-west Germany.

Citing the parents’ failure to cooperate ‘with the authorities to send the children to school’, the judge even authorised the use of force ‘against the children’ if necessary, according to court documents cited by the HSLDA.

[...]Mr Wunderlich said that he and his wife had been left devastated by the authorities’ decision to take their children. He said that his 14-year-old daughter Machsejah had to be forcibly taken out of the home.

‘When I went outside, our neighbour was crying as she watched. I turned around to see my daughter being escorted as if she were a criminal by two big policemen,’ he said.

‘They weren’t being nice at all. When my wife tried to give my daughter a kiss and a hug goodbye, one of the special agents roughly elbowed her out of the way and said — “It’s too late for that”.

‘What kind of government acts like this?’

Funny that you would ask that, Mr. Wunderlich, because here’s a story about a German homeschooling family that is being ejected from the United States.

Excerpt:

The White House has posted a response to the petition to stop the deportation of the Romeikes, a homeschooling family from Germany. The White House does not respond to issues before the courts, the response said, but they understand why parents would value the freedom to homeschool.

[...]Though the White House says it understands why parents would value the freedom to homeschool, the administration, through the Justice Department, has been trying to deport the Romeikes back to Germany, where they could lose custody of their children if they were to continue to homeschool. In the various court cases, the Justice Department has argued that the right of parents to decide their children’s education is not a fundamental right, and it agreed with a German court’s opinion that banning homeschooling teaches tolerance of diverse views.

The Romeikes lost their last appeal in the U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals. The Home School Legal Defense Association, which represents the Romeikes, has now appealed the case to the Supreme Court.

In a blog post on the HSLDA website, HSLDA Chairman Michael Farris criticized the administration for taking so long say that it could not respond, and for allowing certain current unauthorized immigrants, the so-called “dreamers,” to stay in the country while going out of its way to try to deport one family.

“No one can understand why the White House is showing so much leniency to millions of immigrants who have come here illegally in hopes of securing better jobs, but is so determined to deport this one family who has come to America in search of freedom for themselves and their children,” Farris declared. “This petition was the perfect opportunity for the White House to explain why this administration appealed the original grant of asylum. This was a perfect opportunity for the White House to explain the blatantly unequal treatment being received by the Romeike family. But the White House stalled for four months and said absolutely nothing.”

Isn’t that interesting? The same administration that is pushing for amnesty for 20 million illegal immigrants wants to deport one family for homeschooling their children. What is it that causes people on the left to want to drive a wedge between parents and their own children? Why are they so anxious to raise taxes so that both parents are forced to work, and the children will be raised in government-run public schools? What is their goal in doing that? What pleasure do they get out of separating mothers from their 1-year olds? What pleasure do they get in taking a man’s child away and teaching the child things that are opposed to the father’s values – while taking his salary to pay for it?

I know that there are a lot of people who are very passionate about public education, and making everyone equal, and pushing left-wing ideologies onto children against the will of their parents. Every Democrat votes for it when they vote to tax families more to pay for higher pay and benefits for public school teachers. Still, you would think that a story like this might cause them to think twice about what their support for state-run education really means. Make no mistake, Democrats are opposed to homeschooling, and even private schooling. They don’t want parents to have a say – they just want them to pay for whatever the government decides to do with their children.

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Report: growth in homeschooling is outpacing new public school enrollments

From Breitbart.com. (H/T ECM)

Excerpt:

A recent report in Education News states that, since 1999, the number of children who are homeschooled has increased by 75%. Though homeschooled children represent only 4% of all school-age children nationwide, the number of children whose parents choose to educate them at home rather than a traditional academic setting is growing seven times faster than the number of children enrolling in grades K-12 every year.

As homeschooling has become increasingly popular, common myths that have long been associated with the practice of homeschooling have been debunked.

Any concerns about the quality of education children receive by their parents can be put to rest by the consistently high placement of homeschooled students on standardized assessment exams. Data demonstrates that those who are independently educated generally score between the 65th and 89th percentile on these measures, while those in traditional academic settings average at around the 50th percentile. In addition, achievement gaps between sexes, income levels, or ethnicity—all of which have plagued public schools around the country—do not exist in homeschooling environments.

According to the report:

Recent studies laud homeschoolers’ academic success, noting their significantly higher ACT-Composite scores as high schoolers and higher grade point averages as college students. Yet surprisingly, the average expenditure for the education of a homeschooled child, per year, is $500 to $600, compared to an average expenditure of $10,000 per child, per year, for public school students.

The high achievement level of homeschoolers is readily recognized by recruiters from some of the best colleges in the nation. Home-educated children matriculate in colleges and attain a four-year degree at much higher rates than their counterparts from both public and private schools. Schools such as Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Harvard, Stanford, and Duke Universities all actively recruit homeschoolers.

The post also cites another study that puts to rest the “socialization” nonsense objection to homeschooling.

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Was Hitler a Christian? Is Nazism similar to Christianity?

One of the strangest things I have heard from atheists is the assertion that Christianity is somehow connected to the fascism, such as the fascism that existed under Adolf Hitler. Two posts by Jewish author Jonah Goldberg from National Review supply us with the facts to set the record straight.

Let’s start with the first post.

Here are some of the points:

1) Hitler wanted Christianity removed from the public square

Like the engineers of that proverbial railway bridge, the Nazis worked relentlessly to replace the nuts and bolts of traditional Christianity with a new political religion. The shrewdest way to accomplish this was to co-opt Christianity via the Gleichschaltung while at the same time shrinking traditional religion’s role in civil society.

2) Hitler banned the giving of donations to churches

Hitler banned religious charity, crippling the churches’ role as a counterweight to the state. Clergy were put on government salary, hence subjected to state authority. “The parsons will be made to dig their own graves,” Hitler cackled. “They will betray their God to us. They will betray anything for the sake of their miserable little jobs and incomes.”

3) Hitler replaced Christian celebrations with celebrations of the state

Following the Jacobin example, the Nazis replaced the traditional Christian calendar. The new year began on January 30 with the Day of the Seizure of Power. Each November the streets of central Munich were dedicated to a Nazi Passion play depicting Hitler’s Beer Hall Putsch. The martyrdom of Horst Wessel and his “old fighters” replaced Jesus and the apostles. Plays and official histories were rewritten to glorify pagan Aryans bravely fighting against Christianizing foreign armies. Anticipating some feminist pseudo history, witches became martyrs to the bloodthirsty oppression of Christianity.

4) Hitler favored the complete elimination of Christianity

When some Protestant bishops visited the Fuhrer to register complaints, Hitler’s rage got the better of him. “Christianity will disappear from Germany just as it has done in Russia . . . The Germanrace has existed without Christianity for thousands of years . . . and will continue after Christianity has disappeared . . . We must get used to the teachings of blood and race.”

5) Hitler favored the removal of mandatory prayers in schools

In 1935 mandatory prayer in school was abolished…

6) Hitler favored the banning of Christmas carols and nativity plays

…and in 1938 carols and Nativity plays were banned entirely.

7) Hitler abolished religious instruction for children

By 1941 religious instruction for children fourteen years and up had been abolished altogether….

And now the second post.

8) Hitler opposed the ideas of universal truth and objective moral absolutes

…Just as the Nazi attack on Christianity was part of a larger war on the idea of universal truth, whole postmodern cosmologies have been created to prove that traditional religious morality is a scam, that there are no fixed truths or “natural” categories, and that all knowledge is socially constructed.

Practically everything this man believed was 100% anti-Christian. But he fits in fine on the secular left.

Conclusion

Adolf Hitler was a man influenced by two big ideas: evolution and socialism. His party was the national SOCIALIST party. He favored a strong role for the state in interfering with the free market. He was in favor of regulating the family so that the state could have a bigger influence on children. And he favored the idea of survival of the fittest. His ideas are 100% incompatible with Christianity and with capitalism as well. Christians value individual rights and freedoms, small government and the autonomy of the family against the state. The differences are clear and significant.

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