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Saturday, October 23, 2010

Government Slowly Withdrawing from Control Of Homeschool In New Zealand

I received a very interesting (and nice) letter from a mom in New Zealand that I’d like to share with you. (I’d like to thank her in advance!) She describes the homeschool situation at this time in New Zealand. Here, slightly abbreviated, is her letter.

I thought you might be interested in the current situation in New Zealand as it has recently become somewhat freer to home educate here since our new right wing government was elected and all is about making money and reducing costs now. In order to home educate here, it is necessary to apply for an exemption for each child before their 6th birthday in which you must cover in detail your curriculum plans and when this is approved the family receives a meager allowance from the government every six months - this is, of course, nothing close to the amount a school would receive for having the child enrolled with them but every little helps. This exemption application need never be updated unless the child goes to school and then returns home again. In the past, home educating families were also then subject to periodical review by the same governmental agency inspecting schools and it could make recommendations including rescinding their exemption certificate and requiring the child to go into school. The new government, however, has determined that home educating families will no longer be subject to inspection unless they are referred by someone who has a concern over the care and education of the children. They have done the math, apparently, and found that there were never any concerns about a child's education when families were reviewed as part of the ongoing periodical reviews so it is not a good use of their resources. They will continue to review families where concern is expressed by an outsider as it has only been in these cases in the past where the inspectors have found the education being received to be wanting.

So, even though the reason for the change is not pure in spirit, it is certainly a good outcome for those of us who wish to be free to educate our children in the way we see fit.


I appreciate her letter, and found it very interesting. Here are some thoughts:

First, how can a parent possibly know what their curriculum plans will be for a six-year old? That child is just starting his education. The parent has no idea what will or will not work for that child. The family may (and should) start with a certain approach, a certain curricula, but they may discover that it flat out does not work for their child.

This idea of determining in an inflexible manner the curricula and approach to be used, when applied to homeschooling, forces the parent into the same set of limitations that schools have! It locks the family into a specific approach. That’s what schools are stuck with. Schools can’t tailor their curricula or approach for each child, they’d never keep up. But why should a homeschooler have that problem!?

Homeschooling allows for the maximum in flexibility. That is except when government sticks its nose in. This restriction removes one of the most important advantages of homeschooling. And who reviews the curricula which a homeschooler may use, on behalf of the government. Um…probably someone familiar with what their schools are using, like a teacher in a school. What on Earth would qualify a teacher trained in school technologies to evaluate a homeschool situation. Simply put, they are the least qualified people to evaluate homeschooling. Such teachers and administrators are completely locked into doing things “as they are done” – in the schools. Again, the homeschooler is almost assuredly going to find themselves limited by the system.

Second, I’m not sure that I’d take any of the government’s money. With money comes restrictions. Governments already control far too much regarding education, and with far too terrible results.

Third, I’d like to know more about what “referred by someone who has a concern” means. Can the “someone” be anyone? Because that could mean a pissed off neighbor who just longs to make trouble, a grandparent who believes in schools, even the local postman who, walking by one day, heard the child cry (because Little Johnny stubbed his toe). That’s a dangerous situation. And since a report leads to investigation, it’s also sort of “assumed guilty until proven innocent”. I find that mentality pretty abhorrent.

I do like that the exemption is forever, barring a change in circumstances. I think government, as a whole, should have nothing at all to do with education, but at least this is a real step in the right direction. And I like the limit on inspections, though what gives a government the right to EVER inspect the private workings of a family eludes me. Like the very nice mom who wrote the letter, I agree that the government’s motives are questionable, but I do appreciate that the results are moving in a laudable direction.

I guess the real question I have is why on Earth do we hand over control over our children and their education to any government?

I’ve recently completed writing a book about the woes and possible solutions of education today, and had to really look at this. I simply do not believe that a monolithic organization such as a government (national or local) can successfully do something as intimate and personal as educate a particular child. I don’t even think a school, public or private, can do this very well.

Governments (like schools) work with numbers. Governments even assign people numbers. You have a bar code, trust me. Look at your driver’s license. But to your government, you don’t have a name or face. They don’t know you or your children, not at all. So who made governments the “experts” in the educating of YOUR child?

You did. We all did. We relinquished both responsibility and control over our children’s education. And having done that, we really can’t complain about the lousy results, can we?

The answer, and the only answer to successfully educating our own children is to reassume both responsibility and control for them. This is exactly what homeschoolers like this terrific mom are trying to do! Given the utterly miserable results that public education has had now for many decades, governments should utter a loud sigh of relief and throw a parade each time a family takes the homeschool route.

Of course, that said, the two words I used were “responsibility” and “control”. It’s not enough to have control over what and how your children learn. You must also succeed at educating them, that’s the “responsibility” part. And please note, education is not “indoctrination”. Education is not religious or political in essence, though it can certainly include religion and politics as components. Knowing your Bible or Koran, knowing that you live in “your great country”, is not the same thing as knowing your Algebra and your world history. The homeschooler has taken on the assignment of preparing a child for a good, productive, intelligent, moral life in a very complicated world. They must succeed where the schools have failed. If the homeschool family fails, then homeschooling has no value over schooling for that child.

It’s up to us to more than simply homeschool our children. We must also succeed at the goals of education. If schools accomplished these goals, I’d have no complaints with schools. They don’t succeed at these important goals. Neither does government.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Tread On Me - Please!

We are discussing altered history textbooks. These are books that are changed to teach history in a biased manner that somehow serves an ideology or the state, but which has little to do with truth. In the last post, we discussed what has been done along these lines recently by China, Iran and Russia.

Let’s move closer to home. Let’s talk about Texas.

The yellow rose has wilted. Texas, once a land fabled for open spaces and for being a tower of freedom, has become the land of ideological indoctrination and petty-minded educational bias. (The following is based on an article found in The Week, October 1 issue, and is my response.)

If you’re a school kid in Texas, thanks to the intrepid work done by a group of zealots placed on the Texas Board of Education, here’s what you’re going to start learning from your textbooks in 2012:

- Thomas Jefferson was NOT an important founding fathers. He’s a “minor figure”. This because he authored the idea of separation of Church and State, so the zealots on the School Board are going to get back at old Tom. And he really wasn’t important to American History, now, was he? He was only our second Vice President, our third President. Tom and Ben Franklin brought France into our Civil War which was instrumental in winning that war and our freedom. Oh, and he did write an unimportant document that barely deserves to be discussed, the Declaration of Independence. You know, “When in the course of human events blah blah blah”?

Oh, and by the way, nearly ALL of the founding fathers supported separation of Church and State. They and their immediate ancestors had fled a Europe dominated by nations controlled by churches. Remember the Inquisitions? The Thirty Years’ War? Our founding fathers wanted to build a nation where anyone could worship or not in freedom and as they saw fit. So maybe they were ALL unimportant? George Washington, John Adams, the whole lot of them? They wanted separation of Church and State. Washington insisted on it as her did not want to be like Henry VIII, the head of state and of the state church. I guess George wasn’t very important either. Man, those are going to be very thin textbooks!

But let’s not allow facts to get in the way of a well-slanted history textbook. At least, not in Texas. Thomas Jefferson, a minor figure indeed. But Texas school children, thanks to an incredible degree of blind zealotry, will be taught this lesson. It is so “mandated”, and major publishers greedy for educational dollars are rewriting textbooks as we speak to satisfy this bizarre set of demands. There’s more.

- Cesar Chavez is no longer to appear in history at all. Thousands of immigrant farm workers whose lives were drastically improved through his efforts are going to be very sorry to learn that there really was no Cesar Chavez, not so far as history is concerned. Their cause was never represented. They have no place in history. At least, not in Texas.

- I know many people in our Southern States will approve of this change in history. America never indulged in slavery. Nope, there was no slavery here! In the new Texas textbooks, there was only “the Atlantic Triangular Trade”…and that form of enforced servitude (let’s not call it by the impolite term “slavery”, let’s maintain our manners and sip our mint juleps) was all the fault of the British! (I know that they will be horrified to discover this in Britain, but then, history textbooks are never wrong. Bad, British! Bad! To bed, and no supper for you!)

Congratulations, Jefferson Davis, you won the PR war after all! And Lincoln and the North, well, what DID they fight that Civil War thing over? If there was no slavery, why the war? It’s going to be fascinating to see how the Texas textbooks spin that little war, isn’t it!

I actually am having a very hard time deciding whether the Texas School Board is insane, utterly dishonest, just plain stupid or all of the above. What I do know is that by indoctrinating children in such an appalling and dishonest manner, they are guaranteeing an end result of mis-educated children who will have little or no actual understanding of history or of the nation they are a part of. They will, however, be well-indoctrinated ideologues who will cause endless problems with abiding by the mistaken and frighteningly ignorant ideas they will have acquired in school. Of course, there can be little doubt that ideologically brainwashed children is the goal of such a “Board of Education”. And the Inquisition has finally made it to America!

Folks, I am not a Texas hater. I’ve spent a fair amount of time there. My wife was born and raised there. A University Grad (University of Texas Austin) with a Masters Degree, she would have been SICK to see what’s happening in Texas, if she had not passed away in 2001. Her mother was a librarian, her father a scientist. They would have been equally disgusted. I like a lot of Texas and a lot of the people there. But I have to tell you that if you support such a bastardization of history textbooks, if you support the acts of such a “school board”, then you are profoundly participating in the dumbing-down of education, and doing a disastrous disservice to your children. And shame on you!

If you live in Texas and were unaware of these activities, get active. It’s your school board. Do something about it! Remove the ideologues from office and get some school board members who actually care about children and not about re-creating the world in their own image. Believe it or not, there is a substantial difference between education and indoctrination. It’s time that your school board learned the difference. If they can’t serve their children more honorably, they really need to catch the next stagecoach out of San Antone.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Yes, I Love My Uncle Joe, And My Textbook Tells Me So.

Did you know that China defeated Japan in WW II?

Yup, China whooped Japan! And they did it without any help at all from the United States, Australia, or anyone else. The United States never dropped those two atomic bombs on Japan, nope. It was all the heroic people of China, they defeated Japan. At least, that’s what current Chinese textbooks say, according to an article in The Week (October 1 issue) about how textbooks are being altered to accommodate political or religious views of history.

As if education hadn’t already sufficiently failed our children.

Yup, those Chinese and their textbooks, they’re pretty funny. They don’t have much to do with actual history, of course, but then – how important is history, anyway? (That’s irony, folks.) Given China’s once remarkable heritage as amongst the first historians dating back to the wonderful writings of Confucius, their newest textbooks are a barrel of ideologically inspired garbage that would surely set Confucius spinning in his deservedly peaceful grave.

Chinese textbooks are nearly as funny as some currently used Iranian textbooks that advise the young to “strike fear into the hearts of the enemies of God”. That’s a good lesson to pull from one’s history text. Or was it a lesson from comparative religions? How about the part of the text that assures women that they are, indeed, second class citizens? Yes Sir, that’s a lesson I want my daughter to bring home from school. I’m sure that in someone’s bizarre, sad little universe these “lessons” fulfill requirements for a modern education. Cups up to Iran, center of modernity and learning! And this in a land which, through the Dark Ages in Europe, offered the only known bastion of education. Only in Islamic nations at that time could one find the ancient writings of the Greeks and Romans, amplified with the thoughts and discoveries of brilliant Islamic philosophers and scientists. Well, those ancient and impressive Islamic keepers of the flame of knowledge were probably misguided, huh? Wouldn’t you say? I’m sure there’s some sort of reference to that end in Iran’s newest and brightest texts.

And then, folks, there’s good old Uncle Joe. You remember him. You know! Uncle Joseph Stalin! The man who had 20,000,000 of his own people murdered and buried in mass, hidden graves because they…um…didn’t like him. Can’t imagine why someone might not have liked Uncle Joe.

Count if you can the number of families that lost members during Stalin’s purge. Even today, how many people yet live who were directly damaged by his acts? And yet, well, it simply never happened. Not according to Aleksandr Filippov in the revisionist history texts he’s authoring for impressionable Russian school children. After all, per Filippov; “It’s wrong to write a textbook that will fill the children who learn from it with horror and disgust about their past and their people.”

Um, right. Change history. Do it for the children.

Let’s change the Russian history books, by all means. Only in this case and in the real world where some of us choose to live, “the past and their people” were really one psychotic dictator and his rabid (and terrified) military adherents. Well, let’s not allow the truth to get in the way of a good history textbook, shall we?

Russia had a long history prior to Stalin. I mean, they had some nasty old Czars. They had a pretty brutal revolution. They killed a lot of Jews. They tried out Communism there for a while, and it really didn’t work out. Maybe the books could just remove all of that, as well! Ivan the Terrible could become Ivan the Butterfly Collector! There were no pogroms, not in the revised books, the Jews just fled…sorry, left Russia because there was this, um…great kosher tea party that they all wished to attend. There was no Communist revolution, no Communist Party, perish the thought! There was just a Tupperware Party. The last Czar wasn’t murdered along with his family, they were…um…retired. To Bermuda. There they live happily ever after, with their neighbors, the tooth fairy and Sherlock Holmes. And there you go.

Are you laughing? Well, stop it.

It’s really not funny, and for several reasons. First, young people raised with such idiotic and damaging texts will grow up to believe what they are taught. Sure, a few self-motivated children and parents will see to it that they acquire info from other and more reliable sources. (Though that will be hard to do in lands which even restrict the Internet, such as China.) Your children will be dealing with those nation’s misinformed, ideologically blinded children as they all push into their adult years – if we all make it that far. Because such ideologies inculcated in the young in the guise of education most certainly lead to institutionally approved hatred of others. Hate leads to war for those of you who may be wondering.

By the way, if you live in America, you can stop laughing right now, please. I’ll get to what’s being done to textbooks in Texas in my next post. For now, be careful who you decide to throw stones at, unless you’re pretty bloody sure that you are without sin or revisionist textbooks.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Sweden – Dream land! Homeschool nightmare!

In the last article, we talked about Germany and its government’s disgusting treatment of homeschool. If you look back, you’ll note that I’ve quoted several documents signed by Germany (as well as nearly every nation on Earth) guaranteeing the right of a parent to decide upon their own child’s education. Apparently when they signed, what some governments really meant was “unless we change our minds”, or perhaps “unless we need votes”, from the politician’s viewpoint.

If Germany was an isolated instance of suppression against home school and parental rights, perhaps their acts against homeschoolers would not be so worrisome. Homeschoolers could leave Germany if they had to. Of course, they would not leave. Not any more than most Jews left Germany before WW II, even knowing that they were in danger. They did not leave then and would not leave now because Germany was and is their home. I understand this sentiment, and the belief that one should be able to change the system from within. The problem with such a belief is that it sometimes ends in something resembling the holocaust. It can certainly end that way if one does not make enough noise about what’s happening, and if one does not join with many others to do so.

So we come to another beautiful land. It is a land with a wonderful standard of living. It is a land whose government is at this very moment determining whether they will follow in Germany’s footsteps and ban homeschooling. But why wait for the force of law? It certainly appears that Sweden has begun its tandem polka, a dance of repression in rhythm with Germany.

This excerpt is from the WorldNet Daily, dated April 26, 2010. I’ll provide a link to the complete article after the excerpt.

It "appears likely that the same circumstances that currently exist in Germany would appear in Sweden, forcing Swedish citizens who wish to homeschool to flee their home country. It is our understanding that some Swedish families have already chosen to flee because of the harassment from local school authorities," the letter says.
Further, such action would violate several established precedents, HSLDA said, including:

•The European Convention on Human Rights, which includes rights of liberty, security of person, respect for private and family life, freedom of thought, conscience and religion, education, equality and nondiscrimination.

•The United Nations Declaration of Human Rights, in which Article 26 states parents retain the right to choose the kind of education their children receive.

•And the Treaty of Amsterdam, which "calls for respect for those fundamental rights."


Bottom line, “educators” and “politicians” in Sweden have fabricated a law that would end homeschool in Sweden. It is, needless to say, to the educator’s advantage since they get paid by the student, and politicians want their votes. As you will see, some people have fled Sweden in anticipation of the proposed law taking force. Or at least, they have tried.

Please read the article and to get the whole ugly picture, at http://www.wnd.com/?pageId=146273


We all need role models. It’s good to be able to look up at a big brother and say “I want to be like him!” But Germany is no role model, most particularly not in the area of homeschooling or education. Germany is a land that tells its children in some of its history books that there was no WW II! (I’ve seen the books, so believe what you like. And before you start laughing over such efforts to “revise” history, wait until you read the next two articles for this blog. If you live in Russia or the United States, believe me when I tell you that you have nothing to laugh about.)

By the way, the Swedish government is not waiting for the law to take effect to suppress homeschoolers. As it states in the article, a family homeschooling in Sweden but preparing to leave was pulled off the plane and separated, their 7 year-old child for the past 10 months forced into foster care. Their crime? They homeschooled in Sweden!

Need I tell you that the violent, enforced suppression of human rights is a vile and dangerous trend that leaves no one in a nation safe? Need I say again that what is being done to homeschoolers is powerfully reminiscent of the tactics of repressive regimes which have taken it as a part of their agenda to control the minds and actions of their children?

If you live in Sweden, WHY allow such a thing?

It’s your government. You are responsible for its actions. You elected them, you can unelect them. I read that you have a Parliamentary Democracy – so use it! Write, complain, march, protest and make such a noise that your government will be forced to reconsider its barbaric acts. This has occasionally worked in the past. It’s certainly more effective than doing nothing.

Don’t resort to violence, but by all means, protest. Do you need a role model? Choose Mahatma Gandhi, or Henry David Thoreau. Try non-cooperation. This approach may require work. It may even be a little dangerous. But how could non-cooperation be more dangerous than allowing your government to tear apart families and dictate precisely how you will live at threat of imprisonment or worse?

Or you can do like big brother Germany. Just stay quiet, follow orders, and watch as your neighbor’s family is ripped apart for the crime of educating their child as they see fit. But don’t worry. On some pretext or another, some new law, your family will be next. We’ve all seen this slippery slope before, and we all know how it ends – when we’re not too busily revising history.

As to revised history and its place in the future of education – next post.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Changes. Comments? Followers?

Hi folks,

We're going to be moving these articles about the attacks on homeschool to a new site soon, and I wanted to give you a heads up. Probably happen in the next few weeks. Then this site will revert to articles about how to homeschool, as it was intended to be in the first place. PLEASE follow if you're visiting, and feel free to leave comments!


Sunday, October 3, 2010

Who Started the Ban on German Homeschools, and Why?

Here we’ll continue our discussion of the ban on homeschooling in Germany and its brutal enforcement, from our last post.

When did the ban on homeschool in Germany begin? Whose idea was it to eliminate homeschooling in a land where self-education had for centuries produced Bachs and Mozarts? I think the answer is going to appall you. This is an article from September 29, 2006, found in the World Net Daily. I’ll provide a link to the article after the excerpt I’d like you to read.
A new ruling from the European Human Rights Court has affirmed the German nation's Nazi-era ban on homeschooling, concluding that society has a significant interest in preventing the development of dissent through "separate philosophical convictions."

The Strasburg-based court addressed the issue on appeal from a Christian family whose members alleged their human rights to educate their own children according to their own religious beliefs are being violated by the ban.

The specific case addressed in the opinion involved Fritz and Marianna Konrad, who filed the complaint in 2003 and argued that Germany's compulsory school attendance endangered their children's religious upbringing and promotes teaching inconsistent with the family's Christian faith.

The court said the Konrads belong to a "Christian community which is strongly attached to the Bible" and rejected public schooling because of the explicit sexual indoctrination programs that the courses there include.

The German court already had ruled that the parental "wish" to have their children grow up in a home without such influences "could not take priority over compulsory school attendance." The decision also said the parents do not have an "exclusive" right to lead their children's education.
Here’s the link. Please read the rest of the article.

Yes, the banning of homeschooling in Germany started with the Nazis.

We all know how many wonderful ideas the Nazis had. They not only left the rest of Europe in flames, but did themselves and Germany in, in the bargain. If ever a group had no regard for human life or human rights, certainly that group would be the Nazis, would it not?

Let’s ask the obvious. Why would the Nazi’s ban homeschool. Clearly they intended to precisely control everything that a child learned. How else could the Hitler Youth have come into existence? Why else would a child turn his own parents into the SS unless that child had been thoroughly brainwashed – er, excuse me – “educated”.

We know better today, right? Germany is no longer under the control of the Nazi Party, right? That is right, isn’t it? Yet the banning of home school in Germany, initiated by the Nazi Party, continues today. It is violently enforced, using tactics frighteningly reminiscent of the Nazis.

Much of the rest of Europe falls into goose-step line as we speak, as we will cover in upcoming articles. Perhaps Hitler will win the war after all. He certainly will win it in Germany if the German people do today as they have done in the past – support their “government” and obey orders.

Where can a German homeschool family turn?

In 2003, the trial mentioned above was held at the European Court of Human Rights. This court, established in 1998, is seen as a “last recourse” for the people of Europe who feel that their rights have been violated. It was established by the European Convention of Human Rights, a treaty signed by almost every European power all the way back in 1953. Ever hear of it? In the charter it specifically states that “The State shall respect the right of parents to ensure education and teaching is in conformity with their own religious and philosophical convictions.” That’s a quote from the document which underpins the existence of this “court”. Keep reading.

The 2003 trial was initiated by a German family insisting on its right to homeschool. The family wanted a more Christian-based education for their children than the German Schools provide. That was their reason for homeschooling. The court’s decision? That a nation has the right to decide how children will be schooled. Parents do not have this right. That a family's beliefs should not be allowed to in any way determine their child's education. (And, by the way, that a "strong belief in the Bible" was reason to prevent that family from homeschooling.)

That’s right – families have NO right to determine what sort of education their children receive, a decision precisely contravening the founding document of that so-called court, as well as tossing out the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights, which in Article 26 guarantees that the parent has the prior right to determine how their child will be educated.

Between 1953 and 2003, apparently “human rights” in Europe has been somewhat redefined. Today, it seems that “human rights” really means STATES RIGHTS – that the state shall have all rights at the expense of individuals.

This trend contradicts the very purpose of civilization. Civilization is a system whereby individuals may work together for their mutual survival and well-being. In other words – governments exist for the protection of the people and their lives and rights. People do not exist to protect governments and their rights. This all-important key to understanding the relationship between government and its people has been reversed and redefined. When President John F. Kennedy said “Ask not what your country can do for you – ask what you can do for your country”, he unfortunately verbalized the reversed ethic that today empowers the state over its constituents.

Historically and in fact, countries exists to protect individuals and their rights and lives. Without this as the sole and entire goal of a government, there is no reason for that government or country to exist. No less a creator of governments than Thomas Jefferson would have encouraged a revolution against a government that has forgotten the central purpose of its existence, to serve the people.

The banning of homeschooling in Germany by the Nazis and upheld by their current government is a classic example of government rights protected by government (the judges sitting on the court were selected by the governments participating) and at the expense of the people. It is government gone mad. But again, why should anyone be surprised that government has gone mad in Germany?

What we should be surprised and profoundly worried about is that other European nations are following Germany’s lead.

More to come.

Monday, September 27, 2010

The Worst Offenders

Hi homeschoolers,

We’ll now start a series of articles about a country that completely forbids Homeschool. Their government works in horrifying and Machiavellian ways to end it. Yet this is another country that signed the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and agreed to abide by it. As you read in my last article, Article 26 of the UDHR says:

* (1) Everyone has the right to education. Education shall be free, at least in the elementary and fundamental stages. Elementary education shall be compulsory. Technical and professional education shall be made generally available and higher education shall be equally accessible to all on the basis of merit.
* (2) Education shall be directed to the full development of the human personality and to the strengthening of respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms. It shall promote understanding, tolerance and friendship among all nations, racial or religious groups, and shall further the activities of the United Nations for the maintenance of peace.
* (3) Parents have a prior right to choose the kind of education that shall be given to their children.

Again, I ask you to pay special attention to that third paragraph. It states simply and clearly that it is the parent’s right to select the method of education that a child shall receive, and not the states.

So what country am I going to write about? Germany, the most suppressive state in the world over the past 100 years and they’re at it again. Here’s an excerpt from a story from CBN news, Wednesday April 28, 2010, by Dale Hurd. If you have a weak heart and love your homeschool child, this may be hard to read. At the end I’ll provide you a link so you can look at the entire article.
BERLIN - It sounds like Nazi Germany: families afraid of a loud knock on their door in the early morning, police bursting in, and taking away their children.

But it's not Nazi Germany. It's today's Germany.

In Berlin, when authorities came for 7-year-old Dan Schulz, his family secretly videotaped the abduction. On the tape, family members are crying and the boy can be heard screaming, "Mom I don't want to go!"

A German official responds, "Your mother can't help you here."

The boy was taken by Germany's notorious child welfare agency, the Jugendamt. The official reason young Dan was taken was that he wasn't in school, even though he had been homeschooled and then began private school.

Wrecking Normal Families
The Jugendamt, which dominates Germany's controversial family court system, takes children when it wants, from perfectly normal families. The Jugendamt's well-documented treatment of families, especially homeschoolers, has now become an international issue.

In January, the Romeikes, a German homeschool family, were granted asylum in the U.S. after an immigration judge ruled that Germany and the Jugendamt had violated their human rights. Mike Donnelly, with the Home School Legal Defense Association, was one of the attorneys for the Romeikes.

"The judge said that this policy was repellent to everything that we as Americans believe," Donnelly said. "He felt that these were basic human rights. These were the kinds of rights that no country had a right to deny their people. "

The Jugendamt undoubtedly does some good, somewhere, but it also has gained an international reputation as a ruthless organization that takes children from good families and wrecks homes.
"My experience with the Jugendamt has been terrible," Dan's mother Heidi Schulz said. "They destroy families; they torture people, and make money out of it."

She is still haunted by the morning her son was taken from her.

"He was screaming so much and he held me tight, and I couldn't do anything. Nothing," she recalled.

After he was taken, Heidi was only allowed sporadic visits and phone calls.

"And when I would call him, he would scream and say, 'Mama, come and get me!' And I would say, 'I don't know where you are,'" she said.

Here’s the link to read the rest of the article:

MY COMMENTS: Once again a state violates the agreement it signed, an agreement signed by nearly every nation on Earth since 1949. And since the state that is violating the international agreement happens to be Germany, you can be certain that they will add an element of violence, of atrocity to the violation. After all – that’s what German governments do.

Oh, I know I should be careful with my words here, for those of you who love the Fatherland. I was advised by a good friend that I should not go hard on the German people, just their government. But as Thomas Jefferson correctly asserted, a people get the government that they deserve. If you live in Germany, you elected your government. If you say nothing and do nothing, then you support their policies. Silence connotes consent. So if I’m rough on the German people, well…too bad. If you are a German and offended then I suggest that you set about cleaning your house! Your nation’s acts against homeschooling families are yet another (and current) confirmation of your bent as a nation. If you live in Germany and you are not actively working against such atrocities, well, we’ve all heard the line already about “I was just following orders”, haven’t we. If you are working actively to curb such atrocities, then you have my best wishes for a speedy triumph. By the way, nearly every nation has similar human rights violations in their portfolio where homeschool is concerned. Germany, however, seems to make a career of such human rights abuses.

What is the German government’s excuse for this disgusting act? The families being destroyed are…horror of horrors…homeschoolers. It gets worse. About 80 children a day are torn from their families and fed into a government system of Psychiatric drugging and “education”.

For those of us not living in Germany, try reading the article again and replace the names of those being brutalized with those of you and your children. If you lived in Germany and insisted on homeschooling, this would be you.

There is a bright side to the story. The nation of Germany, such as it is, is signing its own gradual death warrant by taking its best and brightest youngsters, its homeschoolers (who score higher on every test as a group, in nearly every nation) and, well, destroying them. No nation can survive such intellectual butchery. Every country requires the efforts of its best and brightest to survive and prosper.

There is something ironic about the fact that the land of Bach, Mozart and Beethoven, the land of Goethe and Schiller and Hesse, of Leibnitz and Einstein is dooming itself to intellectual inferiority. Perhaps Germany will be replaced in a generation or so by another nation not quite so self-destructive. Or perhaps (though clearly unlikely) the German people will stop their habitual cries of “we didn’t know what was happening” and replace their government, a government that routinely violates basic human rights.

More to come.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Homeschoolers in Botswana interrogated, in spite of International agreements

On September 3 of this year, an article was run on a site which I'll provide you a link to momentarily. Essentially, it tells the horrifying story of 4 homeschool families interrogated by secret police in Botswana. Why - because they are homeschooling, essentially for religious reasons. First, an excerpt from the article, found at the Home School Legal Defense Association's site:
Four families who reside in Mahalapye, Botswana face an uncertain future due to an increasingly tense standoff over the issue of homeschooling. The families, adherents of the Seventh Day Adventist church, homeschool because of their religious and philosophical convictions. Despite their sincerely-held religious beliefs and the inability of the court to find any social or educational problems with the children, they have nonetheless been ordered by the local court to enroll their children in public school or face unknown consequences. On September 10, a judge in Botswana is scheduled to decide their fate. Attorneys for the family are seeking an urgent interdict to prevent the magistrate court from taking any action against this family. HSLDA is asking for your help.

Estimates suggest that only a few hundred children are homeschooled in Botswana, a country of 2 million located just north of South Africa and that has acceded to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. Social workers cited the UN treaty as the primary reason for initiating the court action. On May 24, 2010 Judge I.T. Molobe, a magistrate court judge in Mahalapye, ordered the families to enroll their children in public school and to cease home education. The written decision also ordered the families to forfeit their teaching materials to the state; these were subsequently taken by the police in a raid in July of this year. On August 20, Principal Magistrate Judge Jennifer Chikate denied a stay pending the appeal and ordered the parents to appear before the court on September 10 to report their compliance with the order. If the parents do not comply by sending their children to public school, they face contempt charges, possible jail time, and/or stiff fines. The families have told HSLDA that they are determined to continue homeschooling.
“I Must Obey God”

“There is no way I will enroll my children in school under any circumstances,” Mr. Modimoothata told HSLDA Director of International Relations Michael Donnelly. “I must obey God. The schools here are corrupt and teach my children things that go against our faith and our values. I cannot allow them to go to these schools.”

You can read the rest at:


At that page you'll also find links you can use to protest this ridiculous abuse. Please read the entire article and respond here, and on behalf of those being attacked.

Just for the sake of corroboration, here's a link to another article, September 10, from the Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute, regarding attacks of parental rights in Botswana:


Just have a look at the final paragraph from their article:

The UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights itself states in Article 26 that parents have the prior right to choose the kind of education their children receive. In Article 18, paragraph 4 of the UN International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Botswana is also a signatory, parents are expressly given the right to teach their children in conformity with their own convictions. In addition, the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights states in Article 18 that the family is the custodian of moral values and so protects the instruction of children on the basis of religious conviction.

If you read the article, you'll find (as has happened repeatedly in the United States and elsewhere) that a judge has imposed his personal beliefs on these families. Once again, a legal system has determined what is "right" for children, claiming to know more about those children than their own families.

In 1948, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was passed by the United Nations. Here is Article 26 from that all-important document. Have a look, homeschoolers!:

* (1) Everyone has the right to education. Education shall be free, at least in the elementary and fundamental stages. Elementary education shall be compulsory. Technical and professional education shall be made generally available and higher education shall be equally accessible to all on the basis of merit.
* (2) Education shall be directed to the full development of the human personality and to the strengthening of respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms. It shall promote understanding, tolerance and friendship among all nations, racial or religious groups, and shall further the activities of the United Nations for the maintenance of peace.
* (3) Parents have a prior right to choose the kind of education that shall be given to their children.

See that third paragraph? Pretty simple and incontrovertible, is it not? And note, Botswana is a signatory. That means that they agreed to the Declaration, and to abide by its principles. "Prior" means FIRST. Before governments, schools, administrators, children's services, teachers and teacher's unions - PARENTS have the first right to determine their children's education!

I believe in the Declaration of Human Rights, though it is clear that generally the U.N. has no power to enforce it. I certainly believe in a family's right to choose their children's education. And given that nearly every nation on Earth has signed this document, this right should be - well, universal by now.

Please note as well that the United States, Canada, England...even Germany, the most suppressive state in Europe regarding homeschooling, SIGNED THIS DOCUMENT!

Folks, I believe it's time we took the rights that we were promised. The U.N., and the Declaration were the result of WWII, when rights through much of the world were entirely eliminated, even to the point of mass murder. The U.N. and the Declaration were internationally agreed-upon efforts to protect nations and individuals, and their rights. As Article 26 clearly states, one of YOUR rights is to educate your own children at home, if you so see fit. Let's get together on this one. Given the abysmal failure of most public and private schools, homeschooling may well be the last, best hope for your children to receive any substantive and safe education. What is happening in Botswana has happened elsewhere, and will happen again and again. The only real protection homeschool can have in the future in safety in numbers, in volume, in noise, in a persistent and squeaky-wheel insistence that governments butt out of our children's educations, a place they never belonged in the first place.

What do you think? Your comments are invited.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Homeschool under attack in the U.K.

In the U.K. Telegraph, an article about homeschooling in the U.K. recently ran. Here’s the article, and then my comments:
New legislation is required to close a loophole which means that councils have no idea how many school-age children are being taught at home, the report advises.

While schools generally alert local authorities when a child is withdrawn from formal education, there is currently no way of knowing how many young people have never been enrolled at a school.

The report by Ofsted, the education inspectorate, also says that councils should do more to help parents whose children are being bullied at school keep them within the system.

Although some parents opt for home schooling for religious or philosophical reasons, the majority of those interviewed by the inspectors said they decided to act out of concern for their children's education and wellbeing.

The report recommends: "Local authorities should ensure that when parents express a wish to withdraw their children from school to educate them at home, the reasons for the decision are explored and that support, advice and mediation are provided to retain the child in the school if this is the parents' true preference."

Between 20,000 and 50,000 children are thought to be taught at home in Britain, with numbers growing amid concern about failing state schools.

The inspectors found that the nature of the education they received varied greatly, with some parents enforcing school-style timetables while others took a more flexible approach, giving children freedom to choose what they studied.

Christine Gilbert, Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector, said that local authorities could only ensure that the teaching was of a reasonable standard if they had a database of all home schooled children.

She said: “The report found that current legislation around elective home education means it is extremely challenging for local authorities to meet their statutory duty to ensure children have a suitable education.”

As well as obliging parents to register their intention to home-school, Ofsted also called for legislation enabling local authority officers to undertake annual home visits to monitor the children's progress.

The report was based on interviews with more than 250 parents and children with experience of home schooling, and consultation with schools and local authorities.

Fiona Nicholson, trustee of Education Otherwise, a home schooling charity, described the report's main recommendations as intrusive and unnecessary.

The independent Badman Report, published last summer, had also called for a register of home schooled children but its proposals were not passed into law under Labour after savage criticism by MPs.

Ms Nicholson said: "This report seems an irrelevance. I don't think there's the political will to push the changes through.

"We have always said that obliging parents to register for home schooling would be the first step towards forcing them to ask for permission."

Okay, my comments: Required registration of every homeschool student? WHY? Why would it matter how many people are homeschooling, unless schools were concerned (as they are) with their classroom head counts – as they get paid by the student?!

Why should regulation of homeschoolers be necessary? As the article states, state schools are failing. Homeschoolers could not possibly do a worse job than a school that has failed or is failing. Those failed schools were run by the state, and they used state mandated requirements. They’ve failed or are failing. The requirements were an instrumental part of those schools failures – yet the government would consider enforcing them on others? Why – must failure be universal?

The state has once again proven that it should not be in the education game, not at all. Yet parts of the British government insist on their right to register homeschoolers, to regulate what homeschoolers are taught – and to even step into the private residence of homeschoolers to police their activities? Bless the MPs who screamed “no”! The Magna Carta lives (for a while longer, anyway)!

The government inspector, in looking over 250 homeschool situations, found that “the education” of homeschoolers “varied greatly”. Yes, that’s because children vary greatly, as do their individual needs and wants. Education should vary greatly from child to child. Homeschoolers can tailor their efforts for their children. Schools cannot, and instead must rely on incredibly limiting generalities. In simple terms, a school needs to make a child “fit in” to a set and rigid pattern. If they fail, the teacher cannot handle the 30-40 students in their classroom, having only about 1 minute or so per student per school period. But a homeschool family can tailor their curriculum and methods precisely to the needs of a growing individual. Of course, whether or not government wants true individuals is a matter for a real discussion.

Schools live and die by the numbers, and your children are their numbers. Schools get paid by a head count; this is true of public and private schools. And if they ever claim otherwise, then they are lying. Hence schools must kill homeschool to get paid for the students who have fled their clutches.

Look at the reasons parents cited for homeschooling, folks! They were afraid for their children’s safety, and for the education (or lack thereof) that their children were receiving. And they have every reason and right to fear. Their schools have failed them, and this is not the case only in the U.K. – this is an almost universal malaise. As schools fail worldwide, more and more people determine to go the homeschool route. As they do, more and more governments attempt to intrude and force children back into failing and dangerous schools!

Do you see something terribly wrong with this picture?

Shouldn’t a government long for its young to be superbly educated, as a guarantee of the nation’s survival? And if schools have failed to deliver such a product, shouldn’t government be the first in line supporting those going another route, those families willing to work and walk the extra mile to see to it that their children will be an effective part of their nation’s future? Instead, we see many governments treat homeschool with distrust – homeschool where students almost uniformly score better on every test – and support schools that they fund and that have failed so many. The ultimate cost of this back-asswards approach to education will be (and often already is) a nation in education ruin.

Recently, I understand there was an interesting election in Australia. A very contentious vote was taken regarding schools. But it did not focus on the educational needs of the students there – it focused on school uniforms. Uh-huh, right – uniforms – that’s where we want our attention and resources dedicated. Not on improving in some substantive way the educational experience received by our young – but on what they wear to school.

Really, we don’t need to worry about public schools. They are run by governments. And nearly all government is clueless when it comes to education. They invariably lock onto the wrong issues – such as uniforms, or the constricting of the last bastion of educational freedom, homeschooling. If you are waiting for political answers for your children, political solutions to the education disaster of our times, then please, for the sake of your children, stop waiting and start homeschooling. And INSIST, with as many homeschoolers as will unite in the cause, on your right to homeschool without government oversight. This is probably our last, best hope to educate our children.

I invite your comments.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Change in this blog!

Hi folks

If you've been following this blog the you know that I've been using it to author a book on education. I've now removed all the early drafts of chapters that were on this blog as the book is complete, and every chapter that was here has been heavily rewritten. I will be putting up new posts starting this week, commenting on events in the world of homeschool and education, and inviting your part of the discussion. I will be also releasing the book in the next few weeks, and will let you know where it is available. Thanks for following!

Steven Horwich

Friday, August 6, 2010

GUEST BLOG - How To Measure Whether Your Style Of Homeschooling Is Working

Elsa's back with part two of her post. Some very good thoughts, here! Enjoy!

My previous post on this blog touched on questioning homeschool choices. This time we’ll look at how to measure whether what you’re doing is working, and also at a few simple steps which might just fix problems you’ve discovered. I don’t have all the answers, but I can share what has worked for us.

Measuring happiness: When you question your style of homeschooling or your choice of resources, there is a very accurate measure to use. Is your child happy? Is the child inspired and feverishly trying to find out more about a subject or simply content and peacefully working along? Those are both natural states we experience in our own learning. You know your child and you’ll know if the child is happy.

Something we’ve found is that, apart from obvious reasons such as illness or unavoidable stress, there are two main reasons for a child to be unhappy and not progressing at a natural speed in their learning. One is if the work is too difficult or too much and another is if the work is not challenging or stimulating enough. There are easy ways to fix these issues.

Pare down and simplify: What do you do if your child is overwhelmed by the amount or complexity of work and exhausted in trying to keep up? This should be obvious, but often when we’ve bought an expensive curriculum we simply do not want to skip any little bit of detail. Get real, people! That is a big box of materials and one small to medium child. Which is more precious to you? Do you really want to break a spirit that young, and lose what could have been an enthusiastic mathematician through an avalanche of worksheets? She’ll probably be fine if she did a fifth of the exercises. Repetition is for when one does not understand something, so do not destroy souls with repetition of things they have mastered and which no longer hold magic.

Do you wear yourself and the rest of the family out driving from activity to activity? You, too, need to be happy and healthy for the rest of the family to function. What am I saying? If the homeschool parent is worn out, the whole family malfunctions! If you’re finding it all too much, chances are the child has given up hope of managing what you’ve lined up. More is not necessarily better. In fact, more is most often simply too much! You are not depriving a child if you cut down on activities. It is not a bad lesson to learn early in life that one can’t have it all, especially not at the expense of others.

Embroider and broaden: There is also the other side of the coin. Sometimes we pick easier work for a child on purpose. It is hard to watch children struggle and good to see that they accomplish some work easily. Yet you’ll find that it is not in human nature always to want it easy. Even the most cautious of us are programmed to want a challenge and to test ourselves just a little bit.

If all of your child’s work is of such a standard that he can simply cruise along, he will become frustrated and that is one of the main reasons children get moody and difficult to handle.

There is no reason to throw out what you’re doing though. If it is not possible to upgrade to a different level, have a look at the material and see how you can make it more interesting. Can you devise a project, with the child’s input, to challenge him and embroider further? If there is already a spark of interest but the set work does not provide sufficient depth, set up a web quest or library research project so that he can dig much deeper into the subject.

Cross-curricular links also work very well to provide interest. When studying the geography of Europe, for example, one can embroider by focussing on a specific country, or broaden the field by studying the music/food/languages of many countries. This method works well for any age group.

Work on intuition: Well, you won’t hear that in school! Yet I’ve found following my gut instinct a very accurate way of keeping our homeschooling on track. While things are humming along nicely, a lot of learning occurs. When they are not, the learning taking place tends to be of the negative kind.

Trust your intuition and watch your children carefully to see if they are happy. That has worked for us for many years and still does. Above all, enjoy the time you have together.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

GUEST BLOG - Do you ever feel insecure about your homeschool choices?

Hi folks. Here's our first guest blog! Elsa offers an interesting take on homeschool choices. Still looking for more guest blog. They can be submitted at cttauthor@aol.com. Thanks, Elsa, this is great!

Elsa Raubenheimer has been a secondary language teacher, book editor, writer, journalist, translator, Hansard reporter, tour guide, web designer and book reviewer, but she sees herself foremost as a life-long learner interested in the role motivation plays in learning. She currently homeschools her two teens and operates an online children’s bookstore in Australia.

How often do we stop to ask ourselves why we have chosen to homeschool in the way that we do? Do we ask ourselves regularly if what we are doing is the best for our child?

Homeschooling has taught me many things. One of the most important is to reassess decisions regularly. What seemed like a good idea only two weeks or two months ago can be the worst possible decision right now. What fitted a student perfectly, challenging her or motivating him, can be a dead-weight upon his/her shoulders a few weeks later. As homeschooling parents we need to have the antennae up all the time. That does not mean we must throw out what is working simply for the sake of change!

Looking at your child’s happiness level is a good indicator of whether things are running smoothly or whether you need to reassess what you’re doing. I’ve found that this is true for younger children, but also for teens and young adults. It is also true for us in our day-to-day lives. We’ll talk more about that later.

I regularly receive emails asking for my opinion or suggestions regarding homeschooling. Let me hasten to add that I do not have the answers, just ideas. Some of these email queries come from parents considering home education as an option to fix specific problems their child is experiencing at school. These problems vary from learning difficulties and boredom, right through to bullying.

Other emails are from homeschooling parents having a wobble. Most of us have periods of insecurity or indecision, but something many who only know homeschooling do not realise is that these periods are by no means unique to homeschooling. If your children have not attended a standard school, you might think school parents don’t question their children’s schooling. They do, but a big difference is that those who do so many times a year tend to pull out of school and start homeschooling!

While I was teaching at secondary school I noticed a pattern emerge. During parent teacher evenings the parents who were never heard from during term tended to put in an appearance and seemed to have developed a sudden itch about their child’s progress. The overwhelming majority of these parents were never in evidence throughout the rest of the year. When there was a call for volunteers, they were silent. When a note was sent out to ask for their help with getting their child to do homework or to bring their attention to some issue, they were unresponsive. Yet, near the end of yet another year during which they had provided absolutely no educational support they would, as if by magic, develop a ten-minute window of interest and ask the hard (but often irrelevant) questions.

That kind of support is worthless, but worse than that... it is damaging. It disheartens the child and the teacher, and that brings no joy to anyone involved.

After I had children of my own, I noticed that my instinct was to be all over their education at all times, even when they were at school, where we started off. Yes, this must have been frustrating for their teachers! In the younger classes there were plenty of opportunities for involvement, but from middle primary level the teachers could not wait to get the parents out of the classroom after drop-off. Even the most involved parent eventually gets lulled into a false sense of security if not aware of what is happening in class. From time to time an odd homework assignment might make the warning lights go on. Yet what can one do? Once you’ve handed the education of your child over to others, you are expected to back off or to be labelled an interfering parent.

The homeschool parent does not have to back off when it comes to knowing what is happening in a child’s education. You always know what your child is learning and can keep an eye on progress, and that is one of the many strong reasons to homeschool. An effective way of keeping your homeschooling healthy is not to become stuck or complacent in your choices.