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July 29, 2008

European Commission to Open Dialogue with Germany on Homeschooling Law

On July 17, the Petitions Committee of the European Parliament (an advisory body to the European Commission comprised of 728 popularly elected members) heard the first complaint ever against Germany regarding its treatment of homeschoolers.

Catherina Groeneveld is the petitioner, an Irish citizen who moved her family to Germany temporarily because of her husband’s job. She chose for linguistic and other reasons to homeschool her children while in Germany. She was surprised (like most people) to find that not only was homeschooling illegal, bu that homeschoolers were subject to persistent harassment by local authorities.

As a result of this hearing, the European Commission has decided to open a dialogue to put this issue on the agenda of their regular meetings with Germany. This will put more pressure on German policy makers to examine their current approach to dealing with homeschoolers.

The European Union is an organization of European countries with a legislative/executive body called the European Commission. The commission, comprised of 27 ministers appointed by member countries, can pass laws in certain areas and investigate problems and issues of concern for citizens in individual countries and the EU as a whole.

Kathy Sinnott, Vice President of the Petitions Committee, stated “This petition brings into question workers’ mobility. One of the guarantees of the internal market is the freedom of movement of workers in the EU. There is an increasing awareness that workers have families and that flexibility to meet their needs should be part of employment law. However, Germany’s approach to homeschooling compromises this and forces families to choose between a job and the best interests of the children. The need for family-friendly employment policies must be recognized throughout the EU. We need to have flexibility in the education of children temporarily resident because of work. There is also an issue around the attitude to non-German families in the German children’s courts. I hope the dialogue between the Commission and the German State will resolve this discriminatory situation."

HSLDA congratulates the European Parliament and especially Member of the European Parliament (“MEP”) Kathy Sinnott for looking into this issue. It seems like it will require more international pressure like this to prompt Germany to evaluate its current laws on education—laws that date back to 1937 and which violate the norms of western democracies.

HSLDA thanks all of its members who have and continue to contribute to the work of supporting freedom for German Homeschoolers.