Home schoolers in Germany are facing the kind of prosecution by government officials that we faced twenty-five years ago, and worse. Home schooling is illegal based on a Nazi era law, and the national government is still unrelenting in its prosecution of these families.
Please read the following report and join us in prayer and financial report of these people who are trying to do what is best for their family in a hostile environment and against the wishes of government officials.
Where will the battle for home schooling in Germany end? According to Joel Thornton, president of the IHRG (International Human Rights Group), “It will end when we prevail in either the courts or the courtroom of public opinion. We will continue to support home school families in Germany as long as there are home school families in Germany. This is one of the most critical battles for religious freedom in the world. We will not back down, and neither will the faithful Germans we are standing with in this battle.”
The German government is continuing its intense persecution of German home school families. “It seems like they sense the final legal battles are at hand,” says Mr. Thornton. “We cannot afford to blink now. We have to continue taking the fight to the courts.” Recently, some home schoolers have been forced to flee Germany to keep their families together.
Against this backdrop the German home school organization SchuhZ (Organization for the Realization of Parents’ Constitutionally Guaranteed Rights to Educate Their Children, Germany), with the IHRG, is preparing for two hearings in cases involving the Schmidt family in Germany. The IHRG is committed to standing firm in the German battle to protect the right of parents to control the education of their children.
Hans and Petra Schmidt live in Southern Bavaria, Germany. From their home, they have been teaching their children, Josua and Aaron, for 9 years with great success. Were they in America that would be considered an appropriate way to educate their children. Unfortunately for the Schmidt family, they are not Americans. Since they are Germans and are educating their own children in Germany, the Schmidt family is considered to be violating the law.
To date the Schmidts have been forced to pay nearly 13.000 Euros ($18,300) in home schooling fines. Like most German home school families, they have a very modest income. Needless to say, the position of the government against them pushed the Schmidts to their limits. When the family could not pay all 26 of their fines, the government placed a lien on their home.
During this time there were talks with the chief district administrator. These talks were entered into by the Schmidts in hopes of arriving at some type of settlement that would permit them to finish educating their children at home without being forced into bankruptcy by their own government. At the same time the children were tested by the school authorities. Testing both children showed that they have extraordinary academic abilities. The tests also showed the children to be socially competent. This is critical as the Germans still hold to the disproven belief that home school children are socially retarded.
The oldest son, Josua, who is 16, was tested at a local high school and scored very high. As a result, Josua was awarded his high school diploma. These exams are required of all students upon completion of their last year in high school. This shows that the Schmidts have done an excellent job of educating their children at home. As he is through with high school, Josua is no longer subject to the compulsory school attendance requirement.
Aaron, age 14 the second son, has just completed an internship at the local zoo. He is still subject to the school mandatory school attendance laws. The authorities are attempting to force the parents to place him in school.
In spite of the great success of the Schmidt family educating their children, at the beginning of this year the family court set out to take the custody for Aaron from the parents. The sole reason for this was that the Schmidts continue to homeschool Aaron, something that is illegal in Germany. Pursuant to this attempt to remove Aaron from the family home, legal proceedings began early this year. Aaron is 14 years old. He is looking to complete his school education in another year.
Mr. Schmidt has a heart and passion for the disadvantaged, so he works in a workshop where the handicapped are trained in a vocation. Both parents are devoted Christians and have it in their hearts to preserve their two boys from the secular, anti-Christian culture in Germany. They believe that sending their boys to school would be traumatic for the whole family.
Armin and Gabriele Eckermann, with SchuzH, are helping develop the legal strategy to challenge this custody case in the courts. Johannes Hildebrandt, German attorney, has agreed to help the Eckermanns and is taking the custody case as it goes into the court of first instance.
At the same time, the Eckermanns are preparing to handle a separate case on behalf of the Schmidt family. This second case involves the payment of over 9,000 Euros in fines charged against the family for simply home schooling their children. The hearing in this case is scheduled for the July 21, so time is short to prepare for this case.
From the IHRG:
The International Human Rights Group is standing with these lawyers and the Schmidt family. IHRG is committed to doing everything in our power to protect this family and see that they are permitted to educate their children according to the dictates of their own beliefs-something that is guaranteed by the German Constitution and the European Court of Human Rights.
We are committed to standing with them and protecting this family all the way to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, France, if necessary.
Your prayers are an important part of this battle. Without your prayers we cannot stand as strong.
Thank you for praying with us for these families and helping to meet their need for legal defense of their right to home school. With your help, we will support these families in their battle for home school freedom in Germany.
In your service and His,