OTW: What Did You Learn in School Today?

(6 pm. – promoted by ek hornbeck)

These children: Granted.


These children: Pending? Limbo? Repatriated?.

Morning lessons for refugee children

The German family, according to the rules, sought and got asylum because they are being persecuted…. for homeschooling.

In January, Judge Lawrence Berman of Tennessee ruled that Mr. Romeike was being persecuted by Germany for teaching his children at home, a practice forbidden by Germany’s Constitution and that can lead to fines or imprisonment there. Children can be removed by German social services if parents insist on homeschooling.

So school there is compulsory. If you want to homeschool your children, there can be dire consequences.

Advocates of homeschooling argue that German compulsory attendance laws were a product of the Nazi government. But they have been around since the 19th century. The Weimar Republic passed such laws in 1919, and after World War II, similar laws – upheld by the European Court of Human Rights – were added to the Constitution.


Meanwhile, there is no political support to alter compulsory attendance laws – or to allow homeschooling. It is also uncertain if the political asylum ruling will stand. The US may appeal the decision, handed down Jan. 27.

Seems like, well, you decide:

Professor Spiro says that other Germans who wish to homeschool children in the US could come here, claim membership in this persecuted group, and get asylum. “Germany is trying to suppress a social movement,” he says. “And they are very aggressive in doing it.”

Donnelly says his group is not directly affiliated with a Christian church, but his website mentions staff members’ faith. He also said the homeschooling movement in the US was not just Christian – the National Center for Education Statistics says only 36 percent of homeschooled students are kept home for religious reasons.

Yet the movement is largely recognized as a Christian one. Donnelly came to know Romeike though a German homeschooling group with ties to the church.

Most Germans who wish to homeschool cite religion. Jonathan Skeet, a Briton with a German wife who left Germany for Britain in 2006 after being fined, says he was not happy with the sex education in German public schools.

“Our Christian faith influences our whole view of family life, and of course, doing Christian home education was an opportunity to pass on what you think is important, the essence of our Christian values,” he says. “Our main motivation was the quality of the education and the school.”

I just wonder … where are these children now?



Or these? What kind of school do they learn in?



And how about these?


Curious? Me too. There’s statistics, lots of them, at the UNHCR site.

There were some 42 million forcibly displaced people worldwide at the end of 2008. This includes 15.2 million refugees, 827,000 asylum-seekers (pending cases) and 26

million internally displaced persons (IDPs).

Where’s this little girl now?


Women and girls represent on average 49 per cent of persons of concern to UNHCR. They constitute 47 per cent of refugees and asylum-seekers, and half of all IDPs and returnees (refugees). Forty-four per cent of refugees and asylum-seekers are children below 18 years of age.

These Burmese children are in a crowded detention cell in Thailand. I wonder what kind of schooling is set up there for them. Wonder if they will be granted asylum  on the grounds that they are being persecuted because, let’s say, I dunno… food is … well I suppose it’s not like it’s forbidden exactly…


But the faces of these children in the picture stir a sense of extreme helplessness. It makes clear that they are the children of a country which is not fit for children to lead a normal life. In fact, Burma is a country where innumerable children are living in a state of utmost miseries, cruelties and inhumanity. In other words, it is the grinding militarism which has pushed them to the worst level of wretched life – a situation which has compelled them to be illegal immigrants or break the law or whatever.

And this family … perhaps they wish, if only, they could have a home to homeschool in…?


Current Humanitarian Situation, Iraq

Refugees International has observed extreme vulnerabilities among the hundreds of thousands of Iraqi refugees living in Syria, Jordan, and other parts of the region, as well as the millions of internally displaced persons within Iraq. Most refugees have not been granted legal status and thus live in limbo, often without access to basic services and work opportunities. Many persons displaced within the country have no access to assistance, basic levels of protection, or any hope of return to their original homes.

The Government of Iraq has access to large sums of money, but it lacks both the capacity and the political will to use its resources to address humanitarian needs. The continued lack of security makes it nearly impossible for the UN to access the populations in most need of assistance. Local NGOs often have the best connections and access but are often not directly funded by international donors.

Though there have been some returns of both internally displaced and refugees, the majority have not been able to access their original homes and properties. Their properties have been occupied or destroyed. Ongoing violence, especially in the central provinces, coupled with a lack of jobs, basic social services, and opportunities, makes voluntary return impossible for most. While Refugees International hopes that Iraqis will be able to return to their homes in the future, the necessary conditions for returns to take place in safety and dignity still do not exist. Returns must not be encouraged until the violence subsides and people can receive adequate assistance and protection.

I don’t know. Let’s go have another look at those Asylum Seekers rules again, the criteria:

To win legal protection from being deported asylum seekers must:

1. Be outside their country of nationality. Asylees are by definition in the United States and thus necessarily outside their country of nationality.

2. Be afraid of persecution. Torture and imprisonment are persecution – recognized under the law, but harassment or discrimination usually are not. Where these lines are drawn is different in each case.

3. Be harmed or fear harm by the government or others. Harm by the police or the army counts. Harm by right-wing or left-wing political groups or religious zealots that the government is “unable or unwilling to control” also counts.

4. Be affected by at least one of several defined conditions. As suggested above, these conditions are: political opinion, race, religion, nationality, and social group. The last category, social group, usually refers to people with certain characteristics that a particular society might lump together and have generally unfavorable attitudes about, such as homosexuals. The law generally does not include people who fled their homes due to civil wars, generalized violence, and criminal prosecution. However, even these reasons may suffice if they can be connected to one of the five listed reasons.

5. Not be a dangerous person. Finally,international law recognizes that countries have the right to exclude asylum seekers who may be a danger to society. These include those who have committed serious crimes, pose threats to national security, or who have committed war crimes or “crimes against humanity”.

Terrorism concerns can lead to automatic disqualification from asylum. Even before the events of 9/11, people with terrorist connections were ineligible for asylum and subject to deportation. However, laws passed by Congress after 9/11 in 2001 and again 2005 have broadened restrictions even further. Under current U.S. law, any person who provides “material support” to terrorists will be refused asylum. Since there is no exemption for cases of coercion, even acts such as providing drinking water at gunpoint to terrorists are to be considered material support.

Anyone know the current head count in Haiti? Are there schools under the tarps and tents there I wonder?

Haiti quake

Hmmmmmmm. Okay, I’ll stop now.

EDIT 11:30 a.m.CST: oops. Also not considered (different scenario):

PR rez

On Pine Ridge, 63% of the population lives below the poverty line, that’s 2 out 3 people. (USDA)

One-third of the homes are severely substandard, without water, electricity, adequate insulation, and sewage systems (Indian Housing Authority)

The High School drop-out rate is 70%, compared to a national average of 11% average (United Nations and Peoples Organization)

Schools on Pine Ridge are in the bottom 10 percent of school funding by the U.S. Department of Education (Bureau of Indian Affairs)

There is an estimated average of 12 people living in each family home; a house with only two to three rooms (National American Indian Housing Council)

The teenage suicide rate on Pine Ridge is 150 percent higher than the national average (Dakota-Lakota-Nakota). Alcoholism affects 8 out of 10 families on the Reservation, while the death rate from alcoholism is 9 times the national average (Dakota-Lakota-Nakota)

Pine Ridge is not the only American Indian reservation in the United States, suffering from this extreme poverty, poor health care and inadequate educational system, but it is the worst. We have no magical cure for these deeply burdening troubles, but we do feel that each and everyone of these individuals, especially the children and elderly, deserves the same access to food that the rest of our society is privileged to. We desire to provide access to this fundamental necessity, so as to allow these people to again become self-sufficient. source


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  1. maybe Im wrong about this.


  2. … as part of their “Christian” obligation.

    There is nothing in Germany, (nor this country) that would prohibit parents from teaching their children whatever they want to in terms of religious beliefs, on their own time. This is just a means for the parents to mindwash the children, to create future adherents who do not challenge their parent’s authority, and protect them from any sort of outside, rational influence.

    If this sounds harsh, remember I studied the writings of my neocon nutter Congressperson’s long time campaign manager, who is a right wing, evangelical fundie wing nut who is also a “pastor” of one of these right wing, evangelical fundie churches.  The guy is controversial, and a polite and pleasant bigot, but a fantastic fundraiser adept at getting money from the uber- wealthy,   and has a website for his church where one can see his out of the mainstream nuttisms, like NO PUBLIC SCHOOLING SHOULD BE DONE IN THIS COUNTRY, nor FEDERALLY FUNDED,   so during the last election he wasn’t the “official” campaign manager anymore, just a “consultant,” I did a write up once using all the different titles they had for him in the media.  I also saw people who were deeply religious and had lots of kids say that they expected tax cuts for this activity.  

    Now, after the 2008 election, several things happened.

    One, the congressperson, who has been an atheist all his life, only he had it down as a “non theist” which is somebody who isn’t quite brave enough to admit they think there isn’t a God in public, suddenly started to have his online biographies saying he was Christian.   (His wife is another fundie- gelical who likes to play the victim card)

    Two, the congressman started saying “God Bless You” at the end of all his speeches.

    Three, he started going to local public schools, and bullsh*tting all the children with his right wing talking points Founding Fathers are All Christian Fundies Libertarian Tax Free Crap, without giving the parents fair warning he was showing up, so they couldn’t be there to supervise.  

    Forth, his supporters started attacking President Obama with a lot of the Birth Certificate Secret Commie Muslim crap, simultaneously as Mr. Hypocrite is going around to the schools on his cultural jihadi mission to let the kids know that Republicans Are God’s Chosen.

    Fifth, he started attacking the schoolteachers and the school unions in a really underhanded, vicious way, because his wife is into the charter school privatization stuff.  He’s pushing some ballot initiative to prohibit unions from being able to use dues to do political work.  He writes and speaks scads of attacks on unions, and he means teachers when he says it.

    Oh, and his flunkie trustee on the local Community College Board, has never attended college nor high school, because he was…  home schooled.  He’s a plant.   So the little community college is looking at big, big financial problems this year, and next year and beyond, because flunkie trustie is hooked in with the crooked lobbyist (son of one of the campaign managers)  that said Community College had to hire to try to get Stupid Cheapass Congressperson to get any federal funds for said school.  Because said Congressperson campaigned on getting rid of public schools.

    Back during 2008 campaign, Mr. Hypocrite Republican Congressperson went to a local, wealthy, high performing suburban school in this district, with a team of vulture lawyers working for a private charter school and tried to intimidate the school board into letting the vulture charter use the public school grounds to run their own school-  or they’d sue.  

    When the current Democratic Administration stops acting like this charter schools privatization scheme to destroy public schooling is a good thing, maybe I’ll stop being so cynical about them.  Because it’s just another ploy to extract kickback payments so people who are trying to school these kids can keep their jobs, and it’s now being played by both sides.

  3. A confession: my spouse and I homeschooled two of our three children.  One of them is now a sophomore in a university where she’s doing very well; the other, a son, has graduated from a well known college (no more details to preserve their confidentiality). We’re not Christians.  We chose to “unschool” our children.  We did file the necessary reports to the local school district.  We do pay all of our school taxes.  After a certain point, the kids were in college even though they didn’t go through high school.  Their “high school” education meant that they studied with people who could teach them.  They learned languages from native speakers.  Learned chemistry from chemists, writing from writers, art from artists.  Etc.  No brain washing.  They played sports and were in plays.  Our kids say that they’ve tremendously benefited from homeschooling, that the education they got was far, far better than any one else they know, and that they learned a lot.

  4. Hopefully I’ll manage to keep up with this Thursday “series” through spring.

    • dkmich on March 5, 2010 at 11:44 am

    are totally unprepared and unqualified to do the job.  Home schooling in the US is code for religious fruit cake, and apparently, so is the judge in Tenneesee.  

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