CultureWatch

Bill Muehlenberg's commentary on issues of the day...

Homeschooling and the War Against Children

Jul 12, 2009

Children are our future. The way our children develop determines how society develops. And 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 parental interaction with their children will drive a wedge between them and the state. Thus it becomes imperative to not 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. Plato 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 homeschooling 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 seems to fare little better. Children are still being battled over, with states and parents fighting over 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 homeschooling still stands. The Jugendamt still has the power to snatch children away from their parents when they are considered to be “endangered.” Thus homeschooling families in Germany today are still very much under threat.

While there may only be 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:

“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 homeschooling families.”

Religion is often a motivating factor for such homeschooling: “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 leveled heavy fines on the Schmidt family to the tune of a staggering €13,000 ($18,300 USD), 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 center. 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 homeschooling – 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 sixteen-years old, requiring him to continue compulsory school attendance in the state school system.”

IHRG President 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.”

Indeed, the EU has already sided with the German authorities against homeschooling 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.

www.lifesitenews.com/ldn/2009/jul/09071009.html
www.lifesitenews.com/ldn/2006/sep/06092708.html

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19 Responses to Homeschooling and the War Against Children

  • Totalitarian revolutionaries always make a beeline for the kids via State-run collectivist “education”. That’s their way of getting their society to break with the past and pave the way for the New Aryan Man, the New Soviet Man or some other utopian fantasy. The people trying to stifle home schooling are of course not revolutionaries (the Secularisation Revolution and the Sexual Revolution have already happened). They are Establishment bureacrats intent on increasing the power of the State which grows ever more powerful. The secular State is fork-tongued when it speaks to religion. It says, for example, that you are free to practise your religion but you must adopt kids out to gays even if that is contrary to your religion or that your must submit your children to Kinseyan sexological propaganda at school even if those false ideas subvert religious morality.
    John Snowden

  • Dear Bill, thank you for shattering our complacent night.

    Moses set store on home-schooling, recording ‘Fear the Lord your God; keep all His commandments and statutes; which i command you; defining generations, ‘you, and your son, and your grandson, all the days of your life, that your days may be prolonged. He further pressed the truth: ‘you shall teach them diligently to your children and talk of them when you sit in your house (media silenced) when you walk by the way (creation opening, bird life, beetles, plants, rainbows) when you lie down (evening prayers – cuddle) and when you rise up. -Deuteronomy 6

    In java in the 50’s, my dear wife home-schooled our children from class 1-7. Each child was nurtured, their minds developed and love for Christ deepened. Subsequent years have vindicated the decision.

    Thank you for shaking our nation.
    Harrold Steward

  • So often, issues we face are foundationally about control. Here, it is schooling.

    When you install Microsoft software on your computer, it is about controlling your computer: the “My” in “My Documents” is _not_ you.

    Ironically enough, the software reveals the pointlessness of attempts to control others: computers running Microsoft’s software are very close to being the _only_ systems vulnerable to control by others (viruses, spyware, etc).

    Leon Brooks

  • Dear Bill, regarding the primacy of the parents’ [ie, as distinct from others, especialy the state, but also including institutions, bishops and their executives] responsibilities in determining the most suitable educational arrangements for their child, I believe that we should emphasise this point more, eg., when defending our ‘freedoms’ which exist (also) as exemptions to Victoria’s Equal Opportunity law.

    Much emphasis has been on defending the powers of institutions to appoint suitable staff. We need emphasis on defending the freedom of parents to be able to have a satisfactory range of effective choice to discharge this inalienable serious responsibility.

    ‘First principles first’ is best.

    kind regards,
    Gerard Flood, Mentone

  • Thanks Bill,

    Whilst we are a homeschooling family, I don’t think this will get much traction in the Christian community. To many, even professing Christians, the responsibility to educate does not rest with parents but, rather, with schools. It has shown the success of the schooling philosophy where most today simply echo what they were told or how they were brought up rather than a focus on the their responsibilities as Christian parents to train their children in the Lord – as noted already by Harrold (above).

    I think there would be much more concern about impacts to the Christian schools most send their children to. It is a bit like that saying “They came for …. and I didn’t say anything. Last of all they came for me, but by then there was noone to speak up.”

    Jeremy Peet

  • The German Jugendamt is an evil state institution that also steals foreign children following the breakup of bi-national marriges as was done when in was formed in the days of Adolf Hitler.
    Michael Hickman

  • Hi Bill,

    The Romeike family is another good case in point. They have had to flee Germany after persecution and have applied for asylum in the US. I don’t think the outcome of their case is settled yet, but it’s good to see that the Tennessee house of representatives, in light of their case, has called on Germany to recognize the rights of parents to raise their children.

    http://www.christianpost.com/article/20090402/evangelical-german-family-seeks-u-s-asylum-to-homeschool-kids/index.html
    http://www.hslda.org/hs/state/tn/200906150.asp

    Mansel Rogerson

  • Hi Bill,

    You write: “The time may soon come when similar steps are taken here. To be forewarned is to be forearmed.”

    You don’t mention it in your article, but I’m sure you’re aware of the recent changes the Victorian government has made to home education.

    Before this change, home educating parents were required to ‘provide efficient instruction’ to their children and the onus was on the state to prosecute parents who failed in this regard. Apart from recognising that parents have the right to decide how their children are educated, this system worked perfectly well in practice – no abusive parent would consider the arduous job of homeschooling when a free and easy state-school option was available.

    Nevertheless, the Government decided that parents are now not only required to register their children for home-education but are also required to sign a statement binding them to teach certain subjects.

    These subjects are fairly innocuous at present, but it is easy to see where all this is headed. It only takes a small change to the small print, and key tenets of atheism, the homosexual agenda etc etc are part of the compulsory curriculum.

    Oh, and did I mention that as part of the legislation, failure to register incurs statospheric fines on a daily basis?

    I just wonder how long homeschoolers in Victoria have left.

    Mansel Rogerson

  • Thanks Mansel

    Of interest, in today’s Herald Sun there there is an article on the increasing number of homeschooled kids in Victoria: http://www.news.com.au/heraldsun/story/0,21985,25771575-2862,00.html

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  • Hi Bill,

    Yes, the increasing number of children being educated outside the watchful eye and control of the government is, no doubt, what promted the recent change in the law in Victoria.

    The government knew they had to strike early. Despite the valiant attempts of home-educating parents, this legislation passed with barely a ripple being felt.

    Now by the time politically important numbers of parents embrace home-education they will be already cowed and much more easily controlled by the threat of fines and having had to in-principle submit by signing the approved subjects list.

    Mansel Rogerson

  • Nothing much to add, I just want to add my support to all these contributors. The issue is not education as such but freedom of religion.
    Jon Newton

  • The more power the state takes away from the family, the easier it is to control them. Brainwash them in school with statements such as only poor people have big families, decreasing the population increases the quality of life, globalization of economies leads to fairer business… I could go on and on. Craziness!

    Why would you want people teaching their children at home? They might indoctrinate the poor things with the Truth and with Facts? Heavens above!

    Fiona Reeves

  • Unfortunately some parents are all too keen to “handover” their responsibility as the primary educators of their children. School working bees are a wonderful opportunity to network with other parents and teachers alike, yet it is the same committed parents who attend. Being actively involved as a parent on school Boards etc. enables one to have input and become aware of any “unsavoury” agendas. I realize that not all schools encourage active parental involvement and those that do understand this partnership and respect the role of parents as the primary educators. Sadly many parents just drop their kids at the school gate and expect the education system to provide the discipline and direction that they do not. We must encourage parents to take greater responsibility or the State will fill the void.
    Peter Coventry

  • Hello, Bill.

    Nice to see some familiar names among your respondents (hi Leon, Mansel, Jeremy!)

    That H-S article is a great laugh! We know the Maretts, but we are not impressed by the “Psychologist and former teacher Sally-Anne McCormack”, nor the double-speak of “Education Department spokeswoman Jane Metlikovec”.

    “the department support[s] the right of parents to choose their child’s educational environment.”

    … but only on their regulated terms!

    “children will stay at home to be tutored by their parents”

    Notice the subtle undermining of parents: “tutored” (well, almost anyone can do that), not “taught” (only teachers are really qualified for the serious stuff), and I think Chareen Rushworth would have bought The Three Rs from us many years ago. 🙂

    Harrold, may I suggest a slight correction to your explanation of Deut 6 (and other passages):
    education as set forth by God Himself, Who knows what is best for us, is the standard.
    But the idea of compulsory mass schooling has been with us a mere 160 years or so, and is truly the ‘johnny-come-lately’ of education theory.
    The term school applies more precisely to a mass of fish swimming in the same direction…

    So we usually refer to home education, even though the expression ‘home-schooling’ rolls off the tongue more easily, and Jeremy is correct: sadly, most people in the churches don’t see any problem with the school system, nor recognise any loss of freedom from the government’s actions.

    John Angelico

  • Hasn’t there just been 2 cases of government action against home schoolers in the news here (WA)? They may or may not be Christian – but the point of the quotation Jeremy used is – they may not be “one of us” but we may be next.
    Katharine Hornsby

  • Since when did the bible say, hand your children over to Casear to educate in the ways he should go? In fact who owns my children: the Lord or Casear?

    Ephesians 6:4: And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.

    Donna Opie

  • Hello Bill, I’m a bit late in getting a comment in but I want to add to this discussion. I need to work to keep food on the table, pay bills etc. I am often disheartened when I see what my children get at school, so if I had the means I would gladly stay home and school my own children. Although I can’t, I have nevertheless looked at what is available for home schooling families. A few years ago I got great information on the law in Victoria as it stood then from the Home Education Network Inc. I don’t know if they still exist but their web address is/was http://www.home-ed.vic.edu.au

    By contrast I also sought advice from the Education Dept. Apart from telling me it was almost impossible, they told me I needed to get “permission” from the Regional Director. I don’t what the law is now, but actually all I needed to do was inform the principal if withdrawing the children from school so they they wouldn’t be logged as truant. The Education Depatment sees itself as a mighty saviour of children, but too often they muddle legal requirements with their own self created policies that have no legal standing.

    I urge anyone thinking about home schooling to seriously look into it. There are plenty of resources available, home schooling network groups and many other supports around. I often pray to find a way to manage it.

    Frank Norros

  • They banned homeschooling in the state of California in the US. Socialist Totalitarianism is spreading the world again, and despite the fight against it in the 1900’s, it’s back with a vengeance this century. Amazing how the damage from the past has been forgotten instead of repaired.
    Erik Stone

  • It is very sad that probably the majority of Private Christian Schools have to teach topics that are contrary to the Bible (such as issues with homosexuality). I would agree that the majority of these Christian schools hand out information from a secular worldview rather than from a Biblical worldview. It makes me question what is the point of a private Christian school if the material isn’t taught and presented in a Biblical worldview. If the material is mostly the same, taught in the same way and with a similar secular worldview than we have misunderstood and lost the point of having a separate school system. We as the church and as parents have become lazy in looking over our children’s work that they bring home to monitor what garbage is being shoved in their delicate minds. I’m not suggesting that evolution or topics of homosexuality should not be taught- but I am saying that if I send my child to a private Christian school, I would expect those topic to be taught from a Biblical perspective. This all gets tricky when considering what “needs” to be taught in school and what is unnecessary. It goes back to “what is the point of school” which can be traced to the industrial revolution where the government wanted to educate people to get jobs. I don’t think school should only be to produce workers, but rather to classically educate (reading, writing, math etc) and to encourage students to learn to think for themselves, use logic, and discover on their own. School should be about what is important to people and if God and the Bible is important to the family and the child, then sending your kid to a private Christian school should be the right thing to do to get a Christian Biblical education.
    However, sense our Christian schools are so tainted with secular worldviews and with little evidence of it actually being significantly different than a public schools, what are Christian parents left to do? Homeschooling. It both disturbs me how the government wants to weasel into every aspect of it’s citizens lives, but also makes me smile because speaking as a Christian- the fact that we are being persecuted probably indicates we are doing something right and furthering the kingdom of God in this fallen opposing world. The government’s argument can barely pass as logical but it certainly isn’t consistent. How is teaching that homosexuality is wrong but focus on hating the sin, NOT the sinner, nay different than teaching that bullying is wrong but focus on hating the bullying NOT the bully. We emphasize so much to teach our kids to not respond in bad ways when being picked on, why can’t we be aloud to teach our kids how to with love handle this new movement? I wouldn’t ever teach my child to hate anyone or any group. But I would show them how that lifestyle is against the Bible, just as alcoholism, promiscuity, theft, murder etc is also bad. The government is picking and choosing what it tolerates and what it won’t but the Biblical foundation of America is being ripped out from under our feet and it’s already spread throughout this dark world. As for me and my house, we will worship the Lord, and if it is God’s will, I plan on homeschooling my children in a Biblical worldview- whether the government likes it or not!
    Lauren Woodruff

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