Let's get this out there:
I am a reluctant believer. As in, I believe in God against my own stubborn will. If you have questions about this, then read : Things That I Believe .
I am also against politics. As in, I hate them. I think they should go away. I think people spend so much time worrying about GREAT BIG THINGS that really don't matter that they miss out on all of the Best Little Things that are really what life is all about. If I didn't face immense guilt for not voting, I would not vote, but being related to the people that I am related to, the guilt is immense and imminent. Not that the ballot doesn't occasionally slip into the envelope missing a few marks here and there. Most of the problem is that I am uneducated. And in order to feel like I am not making The Worst And Most Uninformed Decision Ever, I would need to educate myself, which would require reading a lot of things and trying to weed through the biases and getting Really Ticked Off at people who can't just Be Logical and Do The Right Thing, but have to make laws about it. Then I just start writing my own laws about death penalties for petty people and mandatory sterilizations and it really isn't healthy. So I am against politics.
Every once in awhile though, a Facebook rampage catches my eye and I feel compelled to say Something. But once again, I am forced to educate myself, which I did a little bit this time, really by reading some heavily biased articles on both sides and trying to read between the lines to see what the issue really was, but I also went to some government websites to check things out. I was pretty proud of myself. And if you correct my incorrect referencing in this blog, I will probably block you.
In case you aren't aware of it, I was homeschooled throughout my K-12 lifespan. I guess there were like 5 days in a Christian Kindergarten, but I only remember the potato stamps and the tape decks with headphones and Sarah T wearing a zip sweatshirt with nothing underneath which violated my accelerated 5 year old fashion sense. It was purple though. Kudos on color choice, Toed. So back to being homeschooled: I was. And I don't regret it. Not for one second, as if I had any choice. But watching my 16 year old Tigger daughter go through several public high schools is enough for me to know that homeschooling was probably not a bad choice for me: someone else's 16 year old Tigger daughter (thanks mom and dad). I am not against homeschooling. But even with aforementioned 16 year old, I wouldn't consider doing it myself for my own kids for many reasons, the first of which is the ENORMITY of information that I didn't receive and have spent years chasing (also not a bad thing), as well as the total unabashed humility to admit that I Do Not Have (really any) All Of The Answers So Don't Ask Me, and the athletic and vocational opportunities I didn't get.
If done well, homeschooling can be a powerful thing. I have RARELY, very very rarely, seen it done well. My mom, bless her heart, was the Champion of Effective Homeschooling, and my siblings and I have her to thank for our above average communication and questionable, if subjective, reasoning skills. However, I'd venture to say that she will admit that somewhere in the middle of educating her 6 kids and the drama that life with all of them brings, some of her hardcore educational steam wore off. I personally hold Bill Gothard and his ATIA booklets from Hades responsible for her loss of motivation, along with the implosion of our family and the loss of a brother and some other cult-like dealings we faced. But if homeschooling was ever done right, my mom was on that track.
All of that being said, I see this story pop up on Facebook about this persecuted homeschooled family, the Romeike's. Of course all of my remaining Christian Home Schooling friends (some of which ARE doing it right, I believe) are posting it because, oh the horror, of seeing religious liberties, the thing this nation was founded on, revoked or withheld. My other friends, (you know who you are) of the left wing bent, anti homeschool and anti god in some cases, are posting the story because, oh the horror, of the hypocrisy of supporting immigrants with threatened religious beliefs in the face of denying immigrants who seek survival outside of their impoverished homeland. And of course, according to some, it's all Obama and his nasty administration's fault. And according to others, homeschooling is a privilege not a right and we can't support the brainwashing of children by crazy parents any more than the German government can. Strong feelings on both sides. I read the articles. On both sides. I did some hunting. Because for me, homeschooling is my heritage, and I am curious about it's ramifications; I have also been to Germany and was profoundly impacted by the governmental regulations on religious practice, where the pastors are all state employees. And so I wonder, what is the right thing? Morally, ethically, legally, in this situation. The cynic in me supports deporting over-productive families who are against Harry Potter. The libertarian in me stands staunchly in their defense. The rationalist that I would like to imagine being says that the ISSUE is very much NOT the issue. So back off, Michael Farris.
So where did the Romeike's go wrong, and ethically, what is the right answer? Which might not coincide with the correct legal answer...
The Romeike's have found a friend and a defender in Mike Donnely, a lawyer for The Homeschool Legal Defense Association. While Mr. Donnely makes many valid points about religious freedom and the right in the US to homeschool, he is overshooting the legal issue of how the Romeike's got here: seeking political asylum. The constitution grants political asylum or refugee status to "to people who have been persecuted or fear they will be persecuted on account of race, religion, nationality, and/or membership in a particular social group or political opinion. " http://www.uscis.gov/humanitarian/refugees-asylum . Refugee status is legally granted to "people outside of their country who are unable or unwilling to return home because they fear serious harm." While the Romeike's were denied the right to homeschool in Germany, it can be questioned whether they truly qualify as refugees. If the Romeike's had immigrated to the US for work opportunities and acquired their citizenship according to the same path that workers from Mexico or other countries would, this issue would never have presented itself to the federal court system. But the Romeike's seem intent on making this an issue of religious liberty and "persecution" they may have faced in Germany, which I am sure makes the German government feel very supportive of them, as well as Obama or any president or administration. The Romeike's would have you believe that 'serious harm' would include the mandatory public education or state approved private education of their children or having their children removed from their home. The main objection to enrolling their children in state approved public or private school is their lack of opportunity to teach their children Christian principles. Unless Germany is doing something totally weird, most school days are less than seven hours, leaving a large remaining chunk of time for parental influence. The "serious harm" might refer to the very large fines that the Romeike's were faced with paying, but most likely the thing they fear the most is having their children's thoughts directed by someone other than themselves. Which for many, is the most terrible thing. Homeschooling, in my best and most well informed and experienced opinion, is by ALL MEANS a privilege, and should probably be a right. If it is not, are parents precluded from educating their children in any religious vein that they choose during non-school hours?
For me, the legal thing is not the ethical thing, and vise verse. Sure, they should be allowed to stay and work their way toward citizenship, assuming they are "a person of good moral character, attached to the principles of the Constitution of the United States, and well disposed to the good order and happiness of the United States during all relevant periods under the law". http://www.uscis.gov/us-citizenship/citizenship-through-naturalization/path-us-citizenship But to attempt to do it through the pathway of political asylum is where, in my mind, they went wrong. If I was a judge, I would have to rule that they do not qualify under that status. Much the same as the jury who will side with the plaintiff for a giant settlement against an insurance company that was in no wise responsible, just because "they have more money than they know what to do with" (I sat on this jury, ladies and gentlemen), the court cannot grant asylum just because it would be "really great" if the Romeike's can stay. They need to find a legal pathway that has nothing to do with homeschooling or persecution, unless someone is missing some fingers.... But that is just my two sense, and what do I know?
I guess my point in saying all of this is that I shouldn't ever host political opinions, because I realize I open myself up for an onslaught of debate, and I really can't stand seeing it on my page even if I initiate it. I also openly admit that I am SURE that I am missing some facts and don't know the whole story. Do we ever? But since my Facebook page was slathered with this stuff anyway, and since anytime I see the words HOMESCHOOL, MICHAEL FARRIS, or PERSECUTION on my page I get a little bristly, I just wanted to throw out there some considerations that might not be the BLACK/WHITE that the media is feeding us. In closing, I hope that the Romeike's can stay. Not as political refugees but as good people concerned with the raising of their children in the best way that they know how. I do not hold Barack Obama or anybody in the judicial system responsible for the loss of their appeal. And once again, I hate politics, and we are missing the big picture.