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Sentences for Teaching Sentences

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of
Some sentences are made of words while others are made of jail time. And home-schooling families focused on the former kind of sentences are increasingly finding themselves under the threat of the latter—even in America.

For example, consider Uwe and Hannelore Romeike, the Christian couple who fled Germany in 2008 after the government levied them with heavy fines and even once had their children removed from their home and placed in foster care all because they home-school.

Germany bars parents from educating children at home even when the children flourish in that environment. Applying laws actually enacted during the Nazi period of the 1930s, Germany has long been at war against home-schooling families—even sentencing some parents to jail terms for teaching their children at home.

The Romeike were granted asylum in the United States in 2010, and they have peacefully lived in Tennessee and educated their outstanding children at home ever since. Uwe and Hannelor teach their children at home for religious reasons and by every standard their children are thriving.

But their German nightmare has begun all over again with Attorney General Eric Holder taking the position that German laws against home schooling did not violate the family’s “fundamental rights” to educate their children at home and therefore were not sufficient grounds for asylum.

Holder ignores the fact that several million children are home-educated in the United States every day and in every state, and virtually all home-educating parents would argue that they are exercising a fundamental right as parents to oversee the education of their own children. He also ignores settled Supreme Court precedent establishing both religious and parental grounds to home-educate children.

The Obama administration’s Department of Homeland Security has also lined up against the Romeikes, as has the Board of Immigration Appeals. Of course, the virulent opposition of the public school teachers union—a core Obama administration financial and voting constituency—to the Romeike’s asylum request cannot be understated.

The teachers unions, as most people who follow these issues know, is in a bloody knife-fight to kill home education in the United States.

The stakes are extraordinarily high. The Romeikes have five school-age children the German government will likely snatch from their home if forced to return. And, of course, there are also the fines and jail sentences hanging like the Sword of Damocles over their heads.

All of this because the parents have decided that the better course for their children is home education.

The Romeikes are asking the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit to give them permanent refugee status. The Home School Legal Defense Association says it could take a full year for the circuit court to rule.

The significance of this case will become even more obvious as the political agenda of the Obama administration and its teachers union allies clash with the fundamental right of parents to determine how their own children will be educated.

Every American should hope that the only sentences the Romeikes and their children face are the ones in text books.

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