German home-school families face US deportation

The Reinhold family moved to the US to continue home schooling

Uwe and Hanalore Romeike want to educate their seven children at home, rather than in the school system.

But in Germany where they come from originally, home schooling is illegal.

It isn't just discouraged, it is punishable by heavy fines and imprisonment and their children could be taken away from them.

So along with other German home-schooling families they have come to the United States and are seeking asylum.

But the claim they are being persecuted has not been accepted and unless the Supreme Court intervenes they face deportation from the US.

"We are being persecuted, as are many other home schooling families in Germany," says Mr Romeike.

"Parents should have the right to choose the best education for their children. That's what's lacking in Germany. We don't have freedom of education."

Family choice

The family arrived in the US in 2008 and settled in Tennessee. In 2010 a state court granted their request for asylum but two years later the Obama administration called for a review and a higher court overturned the decision.

A home-schooling co-op in Maryland Home-schooling co-op in Maryland: Parents can share their expertise

The Romeikes' only hope of staying in the US now rests with the Supreme Court which still hasn't decided whether to hear their appeal.

"We started home schooling because our two oldest children were in public school for a few years and from the beginning had problems.

"Our daughter started having headaches and stomach aches, our son's personality changed. After we started home schooling all these symptoms disappeared. We didn't want to stop," says Mr Romeike.

"Home schooling is not about motivation or methodology. Home schooling is simply about parents making the choice as to what's best for their children," says Michael Donnelly, a lawyer for the Home School Legal Defense Association.

The HDLA is assisting the Romeikes and other German parents including Dirk and Petra Wunderlich. German police recently placed their four children in temporary care because the Wunderlichs refused to send them to school.

"There was no other question about this family - they weren't abusing or neglecting their children - the only issue was that they were not in school," says Mr Donnelly.

"It's really quite striking when you look at a free country - as Germany claims to be - and you see how they treat parents who want to exercise a freedom."

The children have been returned to the Wunderlichs, but the German government has banned them from leaving the country, says Mr Donnelly.

Meeting other children

Like many families who decide to educate their children at home, the Romeikes and the Wunderlichs are evangelical Christians.

But some law experts say they their grounds for claiming religious persecution in Germany are weak.

Romeike family Families such as the Romeikes have come to the US as home schooling is illegal in Germany

"Germany is a democratic country and it chooses to make attendance in schools mandatory. It offers many choices of school - Christian, Jewish, Muslim, private, public - every imaginable sort," says Professor David Abraham an expert on immigration and citizenship law at the University of Miami School of Law.

"But its legislature has decided that children need the social context of meeting other children.

"Parents have a responsibility to raise their children properly, but that does not mean they have a right to counter democratic legislation. What they can't call persecution is the obligation to attend school with other children. That's an important social value that the German legislature has adopted," he says.

'Praying together'

Many children educated at home in the US also attend home school co-ops where parents pool their skills to enable specialised or more advanced subjects to be taught. They also meet other families who share similar values.

Romeikes and their supporters outside a court hearing in Cincinnati The Romeike family and their supporters outside a court hearing in Cincinnati

"It's a very nice environment. Everything is very Christian and I really enjoy that. I also enjoy being able to pray with my mom whenever I need to," says 13-year-old Esther Reinhold who lives in Sterling, Virginia.

Her parents, Ulrike and Matthias Reinhold, emigrated from Germany and became US citizens in order to home school their six children.

Start Quote

Parents have a responsibility to raise their children properly, but that does not mean they have a right to counter democratic legislation”

End Quote Professor David Abraham University of Miami School of Law

"We enjoy home schooling because it is very family oriented, it strengthens our family," says Mr Reinhold.

"We spend time teaching them the regular subjects but they also have time to pursue their interests in a stronger way than they would in a normal school setting."

"I'm definitely glad we are allowed to home school here," says 15-year-old Ruth Reinhold who also attends a co-op and has private piano lessons.

"I could go to a public Christian school but even there, there's still a lot more drama about the dating thing and there's a lot more foul language. I know that if I went to public school within about four weeks I would be going along with the others, cursing and dishonouring God especially."

More than two million children are taught at home in the US and the number is growing.

Professor Brian Ray, president of the National Home Education Research Institute, says that a strand in the home schooling movement developed in the 1970s when some Christians began questioning the type of education their children were receiving in state and privately run schools.

But he says it's too simplistic to describe home schooling as a religious movement.

"I've met many non-Christian parents who would say the same thing: it's not the government's job to indoctrinate my children," he says.

"The core issue is who is in charge of a child's education. Whether home schoolers are agnostic, Jews, or Christians they all believe in parental responsibility for the child's education and they don't think the state should be doing it."

More on This Story

More Business stories

RSS

BBC Business Live

  1.  
    09:05: TESCO EARNINGS

    In fact things might be so bad that Tesco has decided not to provide full year profit guidance blaming "a number of uncertainties which limit visibility of future performance." It adds the "commercial income overstatement" will affect its second half results as it revisit its "plans with new management"

     
  2.  
    08:49: TESCO EARNINGS

    Tesco has also warned on its full year profits outlook. It says it is "reviewing all opportunities that exist within the group to generate value and create headroom. Full year profitability could therefore be further impacted by actions we choose to take." In other words, don't expect a turnaround over the next six months.

     
  3.  
    08:35: FOXTONS FALL
    estate agent

    Estate agents Foxtons' shares have fallen 18% after it said its earnings would fall due to a sharp drop in demand in the London property market. Foxtons said its third quarter sales fell 3% to £39.3m and said political and economic uncertainty in Britain and more restrictive rules on mortgage lending were the cause. This is the Foxtons who were told in 2009 their "renewal" commission from a landlord if a tenant stayed on past the initial tenancy period - even if the agency had played no further part in arranging or managing the extended tenancy - was unfair.

     
  4.  
    08:21: TESCO EARNINGS BBC Radio 4

    Brian Roberts of Kantar Retail is talking Tesco on the Today programme. He says some retailers -Aldi - have a far simpler business model than Tesco. They buy things to sell to their customers. But most supermarkets make more money through buying. And Tesco has been the biggest sinner here, he says by "extracting its profitability from suppliers" over the last few years as opposed to its customers. That's as a result of these supplier rebates we've been hearing about recently, which mean supermarkets get a discount on the goods they buy from suppliers if they hit certain sales targets. Hope that's clear.

     
  5.  
    08:07: TESCO EARNINGS Radio 5 live

    Jane Clark, author of the blog Frugal Queen has been talking Tesco on 5 live. "I do find it a bit pricey... they are more expensive than my local fruit and veg shop for greengrocery." Tesco "will have to price match with the discounters and be aware of how little money people have." She says they need to ditch buy one get one free on junk food because people want cheaper basics.

     
  6.  
    08:06: TESCO EARNINGS
    Tesco share graph

    Tesco shareholders have reacted badly to its interim results. The supermarket's shares have opened 6.5% lower to 171p.

     
  7.  
    07:54: TESCO EARNINGS

    Tesco's rather dramatic fall in statutory pre-tax profits is the result of one-off items totalling £527m, including an adjustment relating to "prior years' commercial income" of £145m, stock write-downs of £63m, impairment charges of £136m in the UK and Europe, restructuring costs of £41m, and another £41m retrospective charge relating to a Valuation Office ruling on ATM rates plus a £27m increase in the Bank's provision for customer redress.

     
  8.  
    07:44: REED ELSEVIER

    Media firm Reed Elsevier said underlying revenue growth for the first nine months of the year was 4%. It bought 25 firms for £294m.

     
  9.  
    TESCO EARNINGS Via Email

    Winston Collinge from Carlisle writes in: "Notwithstanding the upsurge of Aldi and Lidl, isn't it just the case that there is overcapacity in the food retailer sector and they are now fighting like dogs?"

     
  10.  
    07:31: DEBENHAMS EARNINGS
    Debenhams

    And now for something completely different. Department store Debenhams says like-for-like sales rose 1.0% for the year to 30 August. Profit shrank 24% to £105.8m as profit margins narrowed.

     
  11.  
    07:21: TESCO EARNINGS

    There's an update to the Deloitte investigation into Tesco's overstatement of its expected half year profit too. The amount overstated is up - a bit - and it's no longer a singular overstatement. Tesco now says the overstatement amounted to £263m in total. The impact on its trading profit for the first half of this year is £118m. But there is a further £70m overstatement from the previous financial year and £75m from before the 2013/14 financial year. Both of those have been treated as one-off items within this set of results.

     
  12.  
    07:12: TESCO EARNINGS

    Tesco chairman, Sir Richard Broadbent, has also announced his resignation although there's no timetable yet. He says: "My decision reflects the important principle of accountability on behalf of the Board and will support the company to draw a line under the past as it enters the next phase of its development." He has come under pressure to stand down since Tesco revealed that it had mis-stated its profit outlook for the first half of 2014/15 in September.

     
  13.  
    07:08: TESCO EARNINGS

    ... are out. UK like-for-like sales excluding petrol are down 4.6%. Statutory pre-tax profits are down 91.9% to £112m. The underlying profit figure for the period (26 weeks to 23 August) is down 46.6% on the same period a year earlier to £783m.

     
  14.  
    06:55: LLOYDS JOB LOSSES BBC Radio 4

    Mr Hahn tells Today the UK banking industry needs to do more in the way of community banks. He adds banks are beginning to link up with supermarkets as a way of doing this but local communities are likely to suffer as more bank branches close. He says it has been "an error" of government policy that "we keep thinking in terms of challenger banks". What the UK banking industry really needs to think much more about is community banking and how to provide banking services to small communities, he adds.

     
  15.  
    06:41: LLOYDS JOB LOSSES BBC Radio 4
    A Lloyds Bank logo

    The 9,000 job losses at Lloyds Banking Group amount to about 10% of its total workforce. It is also expected to announce a series of branch closures. Cass Business School banking analyst Peter Hahn tells Today the way we buy things from banks has changed. That's putting pressure on bank branches. He says we'll see "fewer but better bank branches". "We'll see them more principally located, so big cities and market [towns]," he says. Mr Hahn suggests they will be slicker operations, more sales-oriented, but not used as much for "regular transactions."

     
  16.  
    06:28: GLAXOSMITHKLINE Radio 5 live

    Newspapers are reporting GlaxoSmithKline may spin off its HIV business. Holly Cook, managing editor of Morningstar's website for UK investors tells 5 liveWake Up to MoneyGSK's respiratory drug, advair is under "intense competition" and a sale through a public offer "will allow GSK to streamline itself" as its HIV drugs see "huge demand".

     
  17.  
    06:15: TESCO EARNINGS Radio 5 live

    "Like-for-like sales is the first number analysts will look at, followed by the accounting problems," says Holly Cook of Morningstar on Wake Up to Money. The online business may have done well while the supermarkets will be a "weak spot." Looking at Tesco, "a lot of customers find it a bit overwhelming and you are bombarded by information and you can't find what you want."

     
  18.  
    06:07: TESCO EARNINGS Radio 5 live
    A Tesco trolley

    "When the CEO is on gardening leave the chairman should step up and that's not happened," says Mr Roberts on Wake Up to Money, talking about the performance of Tesco chairman Sir Richard Broadbent. The supermarket discovered a £250m profit black hole. "I'd be remarkably surprised if it's limited to a 6-month period," he adds.

     
  19.  
    06:01: TESCO EARNINGS Radio 5 live

    Brian Roberts of Kantar Retail is on Wake Up to Money talking about Tesco's results, out today. "There's lots of hoops you have to jump through" as a shopper at Tesco, he says. Buy one get one free, the loyalty card, driving a car and buying the petrol. "With Aldi you just have to turn up... Tesco used to have the shopper at the centre of the business and now they've replaced the shopper with the shareholder."

     
  20.  
    06:00: Howard Mustoe Business reporter

    Good morning. Get in touch via email bizlivepage@bbc.co.uk and twitter @BBCBusiness

     
  21.  
    06:00: Matthew West Business reporter

    Morning all. Now we could try and pretend that there is other news going on (and in fairness there is some) but let's face it, the focus today is all going to be on Tesco's half year results. We'll bring you them as soon as they drop, plus all the reaction and the rest of the day's news as it happens.

     

Features

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.