And a Note on Homeschooling in Germany
Dutch is interesting, but German is more fun, since my reading of it doesn't require near the same level of concentration. And I don't have to look up words. So here's a little overview of homeschooling in Germany...ending with the recent case of the Bauer family whose case seems to have come to an end after years of battle.

Most observing the case of the Belien's cite the UN's Convention on the Rights of the Child as problematic. On the flip side of this, German homeschoolers are appealing to this very document to assert their rights to homeschool.

It starts here. According to the CRC, Article 28, 1a:
1. States Parties recognize the right of the child to education, and with a view to achieving this right progressively and on the basis of equal opportunity, they shall, in particular:

(a) Make primary education compulsory and available free to all;

The German renders compulsory education as Besuch der Grundschule fuer alle zur Pflicht, which means compulsory elementary school-attendance for all. Germany is the only European country to have translated this clause in this way. Why? Homeschooling has a long history in Germany, as it does throughout the world. Public schools began to form under the Weimar Republic, complete with compulsory school attendance, but the rights of parents to home educate was never interfered with. Homeschooling was made illegal by Hitler in 1938. It is one of many of Hitler's laws that never went away.

In fact, accuses Germany of various human rights abuses regarding the set-up of the public school system, its failure to educate children, its failure to protect them from violence and its failure to respect the cultural and religious views of its students. At least six cases are lined up to be tried in the International Court of Human Rights. This is an excellent overview of the homeschooling situation in Germany...and it is in English!

And here is an interesting twist which appears relevant to the Belien case. This is from the Charter for the Fundamental Rights of the European Union, proclaimed December 7, 2000 (Article 14, 3) (sorry, it's in German).

3) The freedom to the founding of teaching facilities under the supervision of the democratic constitution, including the right of the parents to assure the rearing and the instruction of their children, according to their own religious, worldview and child-rearing convictions will be observed with respect to the laws of member states, which will regulate their exercise.

And a case from Germany (from Spiegel, my summary and my translation):

June 2001. The Bauer family removes three daughters and two sons from their school and announces their intention to homeschool. The Hessian Ministry of Culture finds this in violation of compulsory school attendance laws.

October 2001. The state education office files charges.

The court in Alsfeld renders a surprising decision. There exists a "collision of duty" between the compulsory attendance laws and the sincerely held religious beliefs of the family. The judge decides in favor of the Bauers. The state appeals.

November 2003. A court in Giessen orders a fine of 800 Euros ($1,013). The family appeals.

July 2004. The higher regional court in Frankfurt upholds the decision.

June 2006 (last week). The court in Alsfeld has a change of heart. It fines the Bauers 2,000 Euros ($2,533)

The problem essentially rests with the notion of "rights." Here, we view them as inaliable. Our rights cannot be taken from us, hence the term "right" as opposed to "privilege." Christians generally view these rights as God-given. In Europe in general, and in Germany in particular, these rights are viewed as allowances from the state.

Incidentally, there appears to be only one German blog registered with Technorati commenting on the situation with "12 Staemme," the religious community of this particular family, and they seem to think that the group has struck an agreeable compromise with the state, so everything in Germany must be perfectly acceptable to all homeschoolers.

Except that one blog isn't from a homeschooler. Maybe homeschoolers in Germany don't care about the case all that much? Or maybe they would just as soon stay as far out of sight as possible.

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