Monday, December 25, 2006

The web of lies grows....

This eye-opening article has appeared on the website of the German embassy in Ottawa. The way the German authorities create fabrications to malign homeschoolers in Germany is no longer a surprise to me (see my previous post).
I wrote them a letter pointing out some of their whoppers. By the way, these are the same people who are quite happy to educate their children at home through the Deutsche Fernschule (and I'm sure some of them are doing so).

I'll quote the article, because I have a feeling that it won't be around for long. My response to them follows.

Home schooling versus the German public school system
In Germany education is subject to provincial ("Laender") and not federal law. Generally, school attendance is obligatory in all provinces for children of school age. Parents are obliged to send their children to either public or private schools.

Schools must be approved by the competent authorities and may be run by the province, congregations (Christian, Jewish or other) or private institutions. Like in most other European countries, home schooling is not an option.

The German system of obligatory school attendance has a long tradition and it has proven to be successful. It ensures that all children's intellectual needs are met. Apart from that, it provides children with valuable experiences in regards to social interaction in groups, including contact with peers from different social or religious sections of society.

Furthermore, given recent world events, general school attendance is seen by parts of the German public as a means of protection from religious fundamentalism. Home schooling might allow religious fanatics to indoctrinate children in uncontrollable ways. In Germany children can attend religious education of their religious denomination in public or private schools.

As Germany is - in contrast to Canada – relatively small and densely populated, children are usually able to reach the nearest town and their school without difficulties.

Not sending your children to school is an infringement in Germany, sanctioned by a fine. Continuous and persistent violations constitute a criminal offence and may lead to imprisonment.

Concerning the recent legal cases in Germany, there have been long negotiations between the involved families and the Provincial Ministry of Education, which are still pending. The families in question have so far not been willing to accept testing of the students' performance or the many constructive proposals made by the province. These proposals included the opening of a private school, that would take into account the childrens' religious beliefs - more so than at a public school.

I wrote (at 6am after 5 hours of sleep, so excuse the repetition)

I have looked at your website and read the commentary on home education
in Germany. I think that you should fix up some of the comments, which
are patently false.
You state "Like in most other European countries, home schooling is not
an option." Germany is the only EU country (other than a couple of Swiss
cantons) where homeschooling is not an option.
"The German system of obligatory school attendance...and it has proven
to be successful. It ensures that all children's intellectual needs are
met. "
This statement is not borne out by the Pisa Study, the Rütli school and
other "Brennpunkt" schools, school shootings such as the Erfurt one and
the more recent one.
"The families in question have so far not been willing to accept testing
of the students' performance".
In fact most of the families in question have offered the authorities
the opportunity to test their children. The authorities are not
interested in taking up this offer, as all they are interested in is
that the children are sitting behind a desk in a school during school
hours. The Neubronners in Bremen offered the authorities this
opportunity and it was only after massive TV coverage (including an
interview on Stern TV with Gunther Jauch), that the authorities took
them up on this offer.
We are a home educating family in Niedersachsen. In our dealings with
the school authorities we have also stated that we would be happy to
have our children assessed but they have not taken us up on this.
We are foreigners living temporarily in Germany, but the German
authorities will not allow our children the opportunity to be educated
at home in their own language. Yet at the same time, a distance learning
accredited by the German government to meet the needs of Germans
overseas who want to be educated, within their own four walls, in their
own language. This is in spite of the fact that the German authorities
insist that compulsory school attendance serves the best interests of
the child. At the very least this is hypocrisy, if not discrimination
against foreigners living temporarily in Germany.

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