The European Court of Human Rights recently declared that German parents have no right to educate their children at home. This is the most recent blow in a campaign against German homeschooling parents, one which has resulted in heavy fines and jail time for parents who persist in education their children at home. (A .pdf copy of the decision can be found here.)
The German homeschooling community had been awaiting the results in this matter, considered a “test case” by many European parents who view compulsory education, particularly in the area of mandatory sex education, as a violation of their religious beliefs.
This would seem to be a clear-cut matter under Article 2 of Protocol No. 1 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which states:
No person shall be denied the right to education. In the exercise of any functions which it assumes in relation to education and to teaching, the State shall respect the right of parents to ensure such education and teaching in conformity with their own religions and philosophical convictions. (Emphasis mine)
The Court, however, declared that the interest of the state outweighs parental convictions and, more troubling, deems the State better able to determine what is in a child’s best interests than that child’s own parents. (Ironically, this decision comes on the heels of a industry study which found that German schools are experiencing “educational poverty” and fare poorly at educating students sufficiently to replace retiring workers.)
While the Court postured itself as defending the rights of the child and declared the State to know better than parents the best interests of their children, it also endorsed a “carefully reasoned” decision of the German courts indicating the State had an interest in subordinating value systems competing with the state’s secular values. The Court agreed with the finding of Germany’s Federal Constitutional Court which stressed “the general interest of society to avoid the emergence of parallel societies based on separate philosophical convictions and the importance of integrating minorities into society.” (Source)
Register your protest with the German Embassy:
4645 Reservoir Road NW
Washington, DC, 20007-1998
or send an email.
UPDATE: More on the notion that parental rights arise only after the State exercises its rights with respect to a child at Principled Discovery.