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Nazi-Era Education Laws Return

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As a homeschooling father whose children speak and read German fluently, I read with some interest the recent Rome News-Tribune’s story on the German government’s abduction of Melissa Busekros as a part of its ongoing persecution of Christian homeschoolers.

While the German government’s use of Nazi-era laws and Stalinist abuse of psychiatry to intimidate and coerce homeschooling families should appall any American, I found the reported comments of Rome City Schools Superintendent Cooper shameful.

First, Dr. Cooper insinuates that homeschooled students may be academically deficient because they don’t benefit from the “broad teaching experience our schools have.” Parents should know that the kind of “broad teaching experience” Dr. Cooper lauds has produced an educational disaster in Georgia. The 2005 National Assessment of Educational Progress administered by the United States Department of Education shows that 74% of Georgia 4th graders cannot read at grade level, with 42% being unable to read at even a basic level. The National Assessment results in math, science, and writing for Georgia students whose education is overseen by government school bureaucrats are similarly deplorable.[1] In contrast, every study of the academic performance of homeschooled children has shown that homeschooled children substantially outperform their government schooled counterparts.[2] Moreover, there is evidence that the longer a child is homeschooled the better he does in relation to his government schooled peers. These things are well known, and public school officials normally don’t raise the “academic quality” issue in connection with homeschooling any more because it is simply too embarrassing. Dr. Cooper evidently didn’t get the memo.

Second, Dr. Cooper worries that homeschooled children somehow lack “socialization opportunities.” This question has been studied for nearly twenty years, and the results have shown that homeschooled children tend to be better socialized than their public schooled counterparts who are institutionalized for 12 years in age-segregated classrooms. In fact, a few years ago Dr. Greg Cizik, associate professor of educational research at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, summarized in an interview what researchers know about the homeschool “socialization” issue: “It's basically a non-issue...If anything, research shows that because parents are so sensitive to the charge, they expose them to so many activities.” This is hardly surprising. After all, if institutionalization in a government school for twelve years were really necessary for being properly “socialized,” we would have to conclude that Washington, Franklin, Madison, Lincoln, and Edison, for example, were defectively socialized.

Dr. Cooper is also quoted as expressing concern that “There’s a rising tide that America is out of step with the rest of the world, and ... if Europe is able to ban this, it’s possible in America.” I hope that Dr. Cooper’s views on these points are somehow being distorted by this quote. America has always been “out of step” with the rest of the world. Indeed, the very act of transforming the American colonies into a constitutional republic placed America well outside the world mainstream. The question should never be whether America is “out of step” with the rest of the world. Instead, the question ought to be “What is right?”

Finally, if Dr. Cooper’s comments were intended to express approval in any sense for the German government’s efforts to ban homeschooling, he should be removed from his position. The German government is hunting Christian homeschool families like the Nazi’s hunted Jews in the 1930’s. Families are in hiding and are fleeing the country; parents are languishing in prisons; psychiatry is being used as a political weapon; and children are being kidnapped by the German government—all in the name of a totalitarian leftist ideology whose most rabid proponents are, unfortunately, called “educators.”

The German government’s persecution of homeschooling families, and of the Busekros family in particular, are beneath contempt. Americans should express their outrage against Germany’s educational totalitarianism in the strongest possible terms, including by boycotting German products.

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