The Daily Gamecock

Freedom to choose child's education crucial

Germany family's political asylum denial affront to nation's ideals 

For centuries America has been a safe haven for immigrants trying to escape persecution. Even now, in the 21st century, people come from all over the world in hopes of a better life. This is why the Romeike family came to the United States. 

The Romeikes emigrated from Germany because they are evangelical Christians who wanted to homeschool their five children. But in Germany, homeschooling is illegal, so the family sought political asylum in the United States so Germany would not take away their kids for refusing to send them to the public schools.

While the family was granted asylum here in 2010, the Department of Homeland Security has recently said Germany’s ban of homeschooling does not violate the Romeikes’ parental rights, and the department is currently trying to deport them back to Germany since it believes there’s no need for political asylum anymore. If the family were deported the kids would be taken away from their parents upon return to Germany.

Being able to choose what kind of schooling your child receives is a basic parental right. In the United States, approximately one to two million children are homeschooled each year for a variety of reasons, but the fact is parents have that choice here. In Germany, the Romeikes did not have that choice, and they did not agree with the curriculum being taught to their children. So the family went through the process of getting visas for citizens seeking political asylum. They did everything right, but now we are trying to kick them out and send them into a situation we know will not end well.

How can the Department of Homeland Security say the right to homeschool is not a basic parental right when it’s legal in the United States? It is legal because freedom is the most basic of human rights, more specifically the freedom of choice. A parent without the freedom to choose how their child is educated has lost the freedom to raise their child the way they see fit. It has never been the government’s job to tell parents how to raise their kids.

This scenario sets a disturbing precedent. If certain parental rights are not valid, then are other human rights also not valid? According to Michael Farris, founder of the Home School Legal Defense Association, the Department of Homeland Security’s recent statement is “an utter repudiation of parental liberty and religious liberty.” The loss of rights never occurs all at once but rather as a gradual, methodical process. Deporting this family would send a message that parental rights are not important anymore and America does not protect those being oppressed by foreign governments. As Carl Schurz once said, “You cannot subvert your neighbor’s rights without striking a dangerous blow at your own.”