Alexandra Frean, visits the Romeike family in Morristown, TN and writes about it in The Times – Exiled: the parents who dared to teach at home
It was just after 7am in a chilly October day in 2006 when the police came knocking. Uwe and Hannalore Romeike and their three children remained quiet, scarcely daring to breath and hoping the cops would leave if they got no answer.
The Romeikes’ crime? Educating their children at home in a country where such activity is not only illegal, but regarded as highly suspect and even antisocial. A German court recently suggested that home schooling fosters the creation of “parallel societies”. And the police were called in to take the Romeike children to school.
My concern with this situation has been two fold – the bigger concern is HSLDA’s conforntational tactics and the lesser is the Romeike family itself. Frean takes us to Morristown and gives us a look at homeschooling at the Roeike’s US residence.
Settled on their sofa in a tiny duplex, near Knoxville, Tennessee, the couple appear bemused by their notoriety, which they say they never actively sought. The children have perfect manners and study quietly at a dining table in the same room, occasionally getting up to fetch a book. Even Damaris, 4, occupies herself and never once bothers her parents. Lydia, 11, asks about my shorthand and how it works. Joshua, 10, the most lively of the five, is intrigued too. “I shall always sign my name like that,” he says after I spell it out in a few shorthand squiggles.
The family is aware that they have become the object of intense scrutiny in Germany, but are taking it in their stride. “If I have to fight this battle, then I will,” Hannalore, 37, says. “I really hope that one day this will lead to a change in the law in Germany.”
Press reports describe the couple as “devout Christians”, as if this explains their desire to home school their children. It does nothing of the sort.
“We are religious, but this is not about being Christian. It is more of a social thing,” Uwe, 38, says, adding that their main aim is to help their children to develop into self-reliant adults, free from the threat of bullies and the distractions of a classroom full of 30 children all craving attention.
They had never heard of home schooling until a friend put Hannalore in touch with families using it. “When I looked into the faces of young adults or teenagers, they looked so sad and empty. But when I met the children of home-schooling families, they were more open and happy. They had had the chance to be children,” she says.
Read the whole piece and you have to be happy about how this article treats homeschooling. And, there is little not to admire about this family – almost the perfect family:
In 2007 friends put him in touch with the Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA), a US nonprofit organisation that claims to have 85,000 members and was keen for a case to champion. “At the HSLDA, we had previously talked about using a political asylum case as a way to bring more attention to this issue in Germany. We were waiting for the right family,” says Mike Donnelly, staff attorney and director of international relations at the HSLDA
For the sake of the Romeikes, I hope this works out well.
The family battle is not over yet. The US Department of Immigration has said it will appeal against the decision to grant them asylum — so they face several more months of uncertainty.
HSLDA’s M.O. is pitting one group against another for political gain. My hope and concern stand.
Read the piece here.