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January 21, 2019
Homeschooling is a widespread practice in Canada and the U.S. By one estimate, over two million U.S. children are homeschooled. Why do people choose to homeschool? Some parents object to the moral lessons that schools teach or their lack of religious instruction. Others prefer to spend their time with their children. And for still others, the standards of education in public schools are lax and the tuition for acceptable private schools, if such exist locally, is too expensive.
While many school authorities have argued against homeschooling, the right to do so is protected by human rights treaties that regard the upbringing of children the responsibility and the right of parents.
Except, apparently, in the European Union.
A couple in Germany who were homeschooling ran afoul of predatory officials. At first, there seemed to be no problem. The local Youth Welfare Office investigated and reported that there was no need to take action. But an officious bureaucrat in the schooling authority disagreed, claiming the children were endangered because they were being forced to live in a "parallel society," whatever that is. This official never visited the home or spoke with the family or the children. The opinion had the earmarks of a fevered ideology.
But the European Convention on Human Rights protects the rights of parents to raise their children as they see fit with the obvious exceptions of child abuse and neglect. So although the schooling authority might not like it, there was nothing they could do about it. Right?
Wrong. One day, 33 police officers and seven social workers—that's right. Forty officials—appeared at the family's door, threatened to break it down, and seized the children. The children were later returned, but with the condition that they attend public school.
Quite aside from the dubious rationale behind this invasion and the trauma to the family and the children, what functioning human brain could conclude that such a display of force was called for? The family had not barricaded their home. They had not armed themselves or vowed to battle the authorities. In what world is it reasonable for the police to have acted as they did.
Now this is a terrible display of arrogant authority, but it worked out. Right? After all, this incident is heading for the courts, which would have to recognize parental rights.
It didn't. The misnamed European Court of Human Rights upheld the seizure of the children, ruling that the homeschooling ban does not infringe on the family's rights. Homeschooling in Germany and apparently everywhere else in the European Union is subject to the whims of local bureaucrats. Human rights? What's the problem? After all, it's clear that Europeans have them. They have the right to obey their rulers.