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Category Archives: Education

All In All You’re Just A . . .

As you may already know, homeschooling is with rare exception illegal in Germany, as well as many other countries.  Over the last few years Sweden and Germany have become more tyrannical over the issue, even raiding homes SWAT-style, removing children and putting parents in jail.

Since learning of the Romeikes’ quest for political asylum here in the United States, all I’ve done so far is look up the basic criteria for granting asylum:

“a well-founded fear of persecution based on at least one of five internationally recognized grounds:  race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion”

and briefly attempt to debate a commenter over at Tom’s who, unsurprisingly, didn’t stick around for much of my argumentative stylings:

The criteria to which you refer are race, religion, nationality, political opinion, and social group.  I could reasonably argue that social group and political opinion apply, but the most obvious criterion is religion.

Want to take another stab at your argument that their decision to homeschool is not religiously based?

He did not want to take another stab.

The 6th Circuit ruled several weeks ago that the German homeschooling-and-evangelical-Christian family is not eligible for refugee status and should be deported.  The Romeikes appealed for a rehearing en banc. The DOJ responded on the 26th of June.  At this point, the parties are waiting to see if the 6th Circuit will grant the rehearing.  If they do not, the Romeikes’ next step will be to appeal directly to SCOTUS.

Now I’ve had a peek at the two latest briefs.  They aren’t long or complicated.  Basically, the Petitioners said the 6th Circuit panel did not follow precedent for evaluating asylum claims, and further that the panel’s new rule is flawed and the decision erroneous.

The United States responded first with the obligatory standard of proof argument that every party not bearing heightened scrutiny uses in the hopes of winning without getting to the merits of the case.  Then they basically said nuh-uh, they did too decide correctly.

The arguments are mainly legal, but the DOJ also disagrees on a crucial point of fact: whether the German government uses its compulsory attendance law in order to prevent Christians from homeschooling their children for religious reasons.

Appellate courts give deference to trial-level findings of fact.  Since this was an administrative case, the trial level wasn’t in a federal district court, but rather before an administrative judge, who granted the Romeikes’ request for asylum.  In order to rule in their favor, the judge must have made factual findings in favor of the Romeikes.  Yet, the only reference to findings of fact is in a DOJ reference to the “Board.” How that relates to the administrative judge’s decision, I do not know.

Anyhow, in the latest brief the Petitioners used a quote from a high-level German court to demonstrate intent to prevent religiously motivated homeschooling:

Home-schoolers are prosecuted . . . because “[t]he general public has a justified interest in counteracting the development of religious or philosophically motivated ‘parallel societies’ and in integrating minorities in this area.”

Konrad, Bundesver-fassungsgericht [Federal Constitutional Court] April 29, 2003, 1 BvR 436/03 (F.R.G.). A.R. 760.

Got that?  The public is justified in counteracting minority religious groups.  Hilariously, the DOJ expands the very same quote, arguing that the context disproves the quote’s own plain meaning:

Romeike continues to make much of a single line in a German court’s opinion upholding the law here, indicating that the public has an interest in counteracting the development of religious or philosophically motivated “parallel societies.” . . . But one need look no further than the same paragraph from which the “offending” line is drawn to determine that . . . the law has nothing to do with marginalizing Romeike based on any protected status.

The subtle misuse of quotation marks is a nice touch–using them only for the “parallel society,” which should really be a quote within a quote, then coupling it with “offending,” which isn’t a quote at all but a sly way to say yeah right.  The impression is that the “parallel society” phrase might merely be the Petitioners’ over-dramatization, rather than, you know, the actual words used by the German court to describe homeschoolers.

If you are still reading this getting-longer-by-the-minute post, you must be ready to see how the expanded quote shows that counteracting is by no means marginalizing, let alone persecuting:

“The general public has a justified interest in counteracting the development of religiously or philosophically motivated ‘parallel societies’ and in integrating minorities in this area.  Integration does not only require that the majority of the population does not exclude religious or ideological minorities, but, in fact, that these minorities do not segregate themselves and that they do not close themselves off to a dialogue with dissenters and people of other beliefs.  Dialogue with such minorities is an enrichment for an open pluralistic society.  The learning and practicing of this in the sense of the experienced tolerance is an important lesson right from the elementary school stage.  The presence of a broad spectrum of convictions in a classroom can sustainably develop the ability of all pupils in being tolerant and exercising the dialogue that is a basic requirement of democratic decision-making process.”

For anyone whose eyes keep sliding off this formidable bulwark of progressive platitude (dialog with dissenters! experienced tolerance! sustainably develop!), let me rephrase:  we have to be intolerant of you in order to teach your children tolerance.

I can’t help but admire this reasoning.  It’s a perfect example of Orwellian doublespeak–a work of art, assuming you can buy the idea that lying is an art.

Now, I’m no fancy German judge nor United States attorney, but I’m pretty sure that a “religiously motivated ‘parallel society'” is a social group.  You know, one of those little criterion for being granted asylum in the United States if you have a well-grounded fear of being persecuted for membership in it.

Interestingly, social groups to whom the United States has granted asylum in the past include parents of Burmese student dissidents, Mexican men who identify themselves as women and are sexually attracted to other men, and former members of a Salvadoran street gang.  Yet religiously motivated homeschoolers aren’t a social group within the context of asylum?

And threats of jail and loss of your children defo isn’t persecution.

This post has grown too long, the hour has grown too late, and I just used “defoin a sentence.  I need to wrap things up.

You can read more on this case here, and here.  You can sign up for the latest updates on the Romeike case and sign a petition here.  Or you can bang your head in frustration right here, on this handy-dandy visual representation of what children are to those who believe natural rights do not include the right to educate your own kids:

brick wall

cross-posted at No One Of Any Import

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Help The Tampa Bay HEAT (Home Educators Athletic Teams)

I want to talk about my decision to fundraise for the Tampa Bay HEAT.

My decision is based on something bigger than the gratitude I feel for this organization.  I am fundraising for the HEAT’s dream of a full service school building because I see a tremendous need for it.

As I have encountered various homeschool groups in the last two years, I have noticed a pattern.  Each group tends to have a particular focus: academics, informal fellowship, or sports.  Of course, these goals overlap, but most groups give priority to one category over the others.

Without question, the hardest need to satisfy when homeschooling is participation in team sports.  “Tebow” laws are great but not a complete answer to the question of how we provide team sports to the homeschooling community at large.

Groups like the HEAT provide these needed team sports.  They have popped up all over the country.  Here are just a few examples:  Richmond VA, Knoxville TN, Lakeshore WI, Albuquerque NM, and West Michigan.

I don’t know how every group finds space for practice and home games.  I don’t know which ones have an easy time finding the space, and which ones have a hard of it.

Except the HEAT.  I know they have a hard time.  A huge chunk of their efforts and money goes to finding and renting practice space, and then finding and scheduling games against local private schools.  Their need for a gymnasium and sports field is as obvious a wart on a prom queen’s nose.

I’ve also seen how an effort like the HEAT draws so many other incidental programs:  academic classes, special interest clubs, field trips and social gatherings.

I couldn’t help but imagine how easy and wonderful it would be if they could do all these things under one roof.  A homeschool building.

When I mentioned this to the HEAT’s founder, Teresa Manganello . . . well.  It turns out I was preaching to the choir.

It also turns out that at least one homeschool community has already turned this vision into reality:  The Homeschool Building.  The facility in Wyoming, Michigan, is a great example of how a thriving homeschool community can come together under one roof.  Their school facility provides for the needs of the homeschooling community without assuming responsibility for the academic curricula.

A homeschool basketball association near Wyoming, Michigan, explains the importance of a physical school facility:

“As home schoolers, we are truly blessed to live in one of the best places in the world to educate our children as we see fit. One huge factor in that assessment is our access to the Home School Building. Through the years, the HSB [Home School Building] has hosted tutoring classes, soccer practices, volleyball games marching band, orchestras and, of course, basketball games and practices. It is difficult to imagine how different the WMHSAA basketball league would be without the HSB for meetings, practices and games.”

Did you catch that?  Folks have a hard time imagining how their homeschool sports league could have blossomed without the support of a homeschool-run school building.

It’s funny; we homeschoolers escaped brick-and-mortar schools in the best interest of our children.  Now, it turns out that brick-and-mortar buildings may be the best bet for homeschooling’s future.

Please consider donating a purely symbolic amount to the Tampa Bay HEAT building fund, here:  http://www.youcaring.com/nonprofits/tampa-bay-heat-mustard-seed-dream-fund/64690  So far my pledge to match up to $500 total of donations from my readers has elicited only one small donation.  Help me out here, guys, could you?  Just put in the comments that you donated as a No One Of Any Import reader, and I’ll match it up to a $500 total.

Crossposted at http://nooneofanyimport.wordpress.com/2013/06/09/homeschooling-in-and-out-of-our-league/

 
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Posted by on June 9, 2013 in Education, freedom

 

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If You Have a Problem, Consult 10th Newspeak Dictionary

Via The Corner at NRO, I’ve learned that “common core state standards in English spark a war over words.”  The Post article I’m quoting is currently a page not found, but it’s still up at The Independent:

“The Common Core State Standards in English, which have been adopted in 46 states and the District, call for public schools to ramp up nonfiction so that by 12th grade students will be reading mostly ‘informational text’ instead of fictional literature. . . .

Proponents of the new standards, including the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers, say U.S. students have suffered from a diet of easy reading and lack the ability to digest complex nonfiction, including studies, reports and primary documents. That has left too many students unprepared for the rigors of college and demands of the workplace, experts say.”

A “diet of easy reading” is one of the big problems in schools these days.  Huh.  The problem’s nothing to do with the dog’s breakfast already known as public school textbooks.  Well never fear–we’ve got our Little Helpers In DC to straighten out the problem:

“The new standards, which are slowly rolling out now and will be in place by 2014, require that nonfiction texts represent 50 percent of reading assignments in elementary schools, and the requirement grows to 70 percent by grade 12.

Among the suggested nonfiction pieces for high school juniors and seniors are Alexis de Tocqueville’s “Democracy in America,” “FedViews,” by the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco (2009) and “Executive Order 13423: Strengthening Federal Environmental, Energy, and Transportation Management,” published by the General Services Administration.”

Notice the little bit of chaff used to throw us off:  de Tocqueville.  Nothing wrong with a more vigorous curriculum that requires some classic foundations of political philosophy, is there?

Maybe I’d be sold, notwithstanding the fact that de Tocqueville belongs in history, social studies, or some kind of government or civics class, not english.  When the de Tocqueville example is immediately followed by stereo instructions from a Federal Reserve Bank, and then a bureaucratic, Dilbert-inspired double-speaking document full of fluffy non-action action plans and catch phrases (Caveat:  I haven’t read that particular Executive Order.  Does anybody want to check my description for accuracy?), I can’t help but wonder exactly what kind of “workplace demands” for which these educators are preparing our young people.

A particular movie scene comes to mind.  Requiring students to read excessive amounts of tedious legalese might prepare them quite nicely for that cozy little cubicle in the Records Department of the Ministry of Truth, as seen at 6:00:

cross-posted at No One Of Any Import

 
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Posted by on December 4, 2012 in Education

 

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