Homeschooling has always been a threat to statists because it bars their way to control. Education is their instrument for bringing lasting fundamental transformation to a society, and progressives want to determine its content. The family has always been, as Jonah Goldberg writes, “the institution most resistant to political indoctrination.”1 Banning homeschooling would assert government control over both families and education. That’s two for one as far as progressives are concerned.
Uwe and Hannelore Romeike fled from Germany to the United States after their family was vigorously prosecuted (fines, forcible removal of their children, threats of jail and more) for homeschooling. Initially, the Romeikes were granted political asylum, but the U.S. government appealed that decision to the Board of Immigration Appeals. That Board sided with the government. HSLDA [Home School Legal Defense Association] then appealed to the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals—the federal court just below the Supreme Court.
After finishing the final appellate brief last week, HSLDA Founder and Chairman Michael Farris became convinced that the U.S. Attorney General’s argument revealed some very dangerous views of our own government toward our freedom.
The upshot of the brief filed by the U.S. Department of Justice is:
1. It’s not a violation of anyone’s rights to ban homeschooling.
2. Banning homeschooling doesn’t infringe on religious freedom, because not all families homeschool for religious reasons and not all Christians choose to homeschool. (This is the same angle we’ve seen played in Obamacare—the Obama administration asserting that religious freedom applies only to churches and not to choices made by individual Christians according to their personal beliefs).
3. Homeschooling is not an immutable choice.
Immutable means a characteristic that cannot be changed or “should not be required” to be changed.
No one contends that homeschooling is a characteristic that cannot be changed. We simply contend that in a free nation it is a characteristic that should not be required to be changed….
When the United States government says that homeschooling is a mutable choice—they are saying that it is a characteristic that a government can legitimately coerce you to change. In other words, you have no protected right to choose the education for your children. Our nation could remove your ability to homeschool and your choice would be mutable—since the government has the authority to force you to implement their wishes.
The prospect for German homeschooling freedom is not bright. But we should not reserve all of our concern for the views of the German government. Our own government is attempting to send German homeschoolers back to that land to face criminal prosecutions with fines, jail sentences, and removal of custody of children.
We should understand that in these arguments by the U.S. government, something important is being said about our own liberties as American homeschoolers.
The Attorney General of the United States thinks that a law that bans homeschooling entirely violates no fundamental liberties.
Now I don’t think the DOJ is going to be able to abolish homeschooling this year or next, but this is their mindset. They believe as John Dewey did: “…education is the fundamental method of social progress and reform.”
1Jonah Goldberg, Liberal Fascism (Broadway Books, New York NY: 2007, 2009) 327.
Thanks to my daughter-in-law to be for bringing this to my attention!