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August 28, 2015

German (and U.S.) Federal Policy
Claims Another Homeschool Family Victim

Mike Donnelly Staff Attorney Mike Donnelly is HSLDA’s director of global outreach. He and his wife homeschool.

The latest news relating to homeschooling and Germany is that of asylum-seekers Petra and Jayson Albrecht.

Ms. Albrecht has been imprisoned in a U.S. immigration detention center for 11 months, according to Christina Fialho, executive director of the nonprofit immigrant rights group CIVIC. Ms. Albrecht’s 12-year-old son Jayson—who she homeschooled in the United States for almost four years—was deported to Germany. At this point he is probably living in an orphanage or with a foster family, and is almost certainly back in public school.

In a Huffington Post article, Ms. Fialho said Ms. Albrecht fled Germany because her son suffered from anti-Semitic bullying while attending public school. Germany’s complete ban of home education is widely known. Apparently Ms. Albrecht came to the United States around 2011 in search of a place where she could homeschool safely.

Fialho says the family was detained after they came to the attention of U.S. immigration authorities following an incident between herself and her neighbors, who are Hollywood personalities. Asylum requests by Ms. Albrecht were rejected by the Obama administration, and she has appealed to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.

Although HSLDA has not been involved in the Albrechts’ asylum case, this situation shows the tragic and unnecessary consequences of Germany’s harsh policy towards home education. Had Ms. Albrecht not faced persecution in her homeland, she would not have had to uproot and relocate to a new country—with no certainty of gaining permanent legal status. And she would likely have never faced separation from her son—which was the very reason she originally left Germany.

Harsh Policy is Notorious

Germany’s harsh treatment of homeschoolers is well documented. Scores of families have fled that nation to avoid crushing fines, criminal prosecution, and the loss of their children. For example, Dirk and Petra Wunderlich’s children were taken away by government officials for nearly three weeks, and were only released after an aggressive international campaign launched by HSLDA. Although the Wunderlich family has been reunited, they are still being prosecuted for homeschooling. Judges have warned the parents that unless they desist they could face jail time.

Although the frigid attitude towards homeschooling has thawed in some areas of German society, such as the media and academia, German policymakers continue to resist any positive change.

Message for German Policymakers

HSLDA has this message for German policymakers: Homeschooling is not a threat to your society. What does threaten your society is your present dogmatic and compulsory system that forbids homeschooling.

Homeschooling does not create parallel societies that need to be repressed. Rather, it is part of an educational system that values choices and alternatives. Ample evidence exists in Europe and other countries to prove that this system works. In fact, home education is a necessary option in a pluralistic society that values freedom and respects the role of parents and families.

Homeschooling is part of a system that acknowledges that children are unique, and that there are as many ways to achieve good educational outcomes as there are children to be educated. It acknowledges that education is about individuals, not institutions. It is part of a system that values the child and the rights of parents.

Germany should be ashamed that its policy contributes to outcomes like those faced by the Albrechts and Wunderlichs.

HSLDA Stands for Freedom

HSLDA is working hard to advocate for homeschooling freedom, both here in the United States and around the world. But more needs to be done to get German policymakers to change their oppressive homeschooling policies.

HSLDA is currently involved in two cases at the European Court of Human Rights, and is advocating for recognition of homeschooling as a human right. We are also promoting federal legislation that would allow homeschooling families like the Albrechts—or from other countries that do not allow home education—to receive asylum in the United States. Unfortunately, this legislation has not progressed in the House of Representatives.

HSLDA has also litigated the famous Romeike case all the way to the Supreme Court after the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals refused to acknowledge that home education is a legitimate reason to grant asylum to families who flee Germany’s harsh treatment. HSLDA’s chairman Michael Farris wrote a sobering article about the Supreme Court’s refusal to hear this important case, and what that meant for homeschoolers in the United States.

All over the world, families like the Wunderlichs look to the American homeschooling movement for inspiration and encouragement. We enjoy the blessings of a hard-fought victory to homeschool, and we have much to offer because of the size of our movement and our decades of experience. It is crucial that we reach out and help these families who simply want to homeschool their children in peace.

For More Information

CIVIC, the organization helping the Albrecht Family, is gathering signatures on a petition requesting swift U.S. government action to resolve the family’s case. For more information on the petition, you can click here.

HSLDA would not exist to fight for homeschooling freedom without the support of our members. Will you join with us today to stand up for homeschooling freedom? You can also make a contribution to the Homeschool Freedom Fund that supports litigation and outreach to advance this valuable freedom.