Update on the R. family (that fled to Austria)
A while back, the R. family's dramatic exit from their home in Germany made blogging news here in the US, as well. I talked a little about the case here and here. They were presumed to have fled to Austria, where homeschooling is technically legal, but children must submit to yearly evaluations by the state and are forced into public schools if they do not meet state standards. I've been wondering about this family since the story circulated, and finally have an update.
The family is staying at a Christian resort in Austria which has helped homeschooling families fleeing Germany in the past. The article describes an idyllic life:
Joyful girls in flowered dresses taking walks with their parents. An outing in the RV to Bad Ischl to go shopping. A laughing band of children on the way to the farm to pick up milk...a family out of a picture book, but the idyl is deceptive.
The rest is nothing new. The family bases its life on scripture, "The family namely believes in the bible and nothing else." It is easy to cast them into the fringe of "right wing radical Christian fundamentalists," and thus have no sympathy with the court's ruling. After all, the children were "imprisoned" in their own home, allowed only contact with other children through their church and under their parents' watchful eye. They aren't "like us." The article ends questioning whether the children are protected or imprisoned in their family's "in tact world." Because we all know that children suffer immensely under such delusions that there is such a thing.

The state's primary concern in the case was the social development of the children and Article 29 in the Convention on the Rights of the Child referring to a child's right to develop his or her own personality. But the social workers could not find anything wrong with the children. They were happy, well-adjusted children who did not in anyway seem to be suffering under their parents' "rule."
Since the children themselves are obviously not unhappy with the situation, the school administration now has the problem of finding a solution which does more to benefit the daughters than to harm them...
Basically, since that didn't work, we need to find another reason to take the children.

Interestingly, as "fundamentalist" as this family appears to be, and as easy as it may be to push them into the fringe, an earlier judge in the case did not buy their religious objections. He maintained that the root of their objection was the inferiority of the German school system. He also did not like their method of instruction. When asked to show their formal curriculum, the wagon loads of books the family had read together did not count. The discussions of physics around stew boiling over didn't count. And the judge seemed to object to the family's assertion that formal lesson plans are "one of the biggest catastrophes of public education."

The German state is opposed to homeschooling primarily due to socialization issues. They are concerned with the development of "parallel societies." It doesn't matter if these groups pose no threat to anyone. They have to look and think and act like the rest of society.

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