Patrick Henry College
Homeschool students and their families across America are being urged to flood the German embassy with e-mail, telephone calls and letters in support of a German teen who was taken by police to a psychiatric ward because she was being homeschooled.
WND reported late last week on that situation, when a German organization working in support of homeschooling, even though it's illegal in Germany, contacted the news site.
According to the new announcement, the Home School Legal Defense Association is urging its members to act.
"Many families who have had their children forcibly taken from their home each day and taken to government school have since fled Germany, but there are still some homeschoolers. The latest incident involves 17-year-old Melissa Busekros, the girl sent to the Nuremberg psychiatry unit. What is being done to this sensitive girl – just to set an example of enforcing the compulsory schooling at all costs – is reprehensible and causing trauma to unassuming and lovable Melissa," the group said.
And it's warning that "what is happening in Germany today may be knocking on our door tomorrow."
Currently, HSLDA is tracking the circumstances involving about 40 families in Germany with court cases in various stages – all because Germany still enforces a Hitler-created law banning homeschooling.
The American group, which was created in support of homeschoolers in the United States but since has made its presence known in support of homeschooling virtually around the globe, has posted updates about the Busekros' family situation on its website.
And it is suggesting two courses of action for homeschoolers and its supporters:
"First … call or e-mail the German Embassy and give them this message: 'We are shocked to hear of the Busekros' homeschooled daughter Melissa being removed from the custody of her parents and being placed in a child psychiatric unit. This is an outrage that hearkens back to the Nazi era. We cannot believe a free nation would put a homeschooled child in a psychiatric ward for 'school phobia.' The attack on the homeschool families throughout Germany must stop.'"
The HSLDA said the German Embassy can be reached at:
Dr. Klaus Scharioth, Ambassador, German Embassy
4645 Reservoir Road NW
Washington, DC, 20007-1998
The embassy can be emailed from its website, the HSLDA said.
"Second, pray for the German situation. Only God can change the situation for homeschoolers in Germany. Attempts by German homeschoolers to organize or to change the laws through court continues to be lost, but with God all things are possible. We ask that you cry out for the German homeschool families," the HSLDA said.
In Germany, education officials already have warned that, when necessary, they will "bring the religious convictions of the family into line" with state requirements.
Officials say a team of nearly two dozen officials and uniformed police officers was assembled to physically remove the teen from her home in front of her shocked family last week.
The case was reported in a statement delivered to WND by Netzwerk-Bildungsfreiheit (Net-Education Freedom), an organization that works for homeschoolers' rights in Germany even though it is illegal there.
A spokesman for that group had contacted WND after the news website broke the story that a German government official had warned that families' religious beliefs will have to be brought into alignment with required school attendance laws.
The government at that time had responded to a parent concerned about children being forcibly placed in custody by police officers and then delivered to the mandatory public school system:
"In order to avoid this in future, the education authority is in conversation with the affected family in order to look for possibilities to bring the religious convictions of the family into line with the unalterable school attendance requirement," the government said.
Melissa Busekros was removed from her parents' custody and placed in the Child Psychiatry Unit of the Nuremberg clinic, her father, Hubert Busekros, told the homeschool group, in the state's "zealous drive to enforce compulsory schooling."
"The Netzwerk Bildungsfreiheit condemns this inconsiderate and totally incommensurate behaviour on the part of the officials involved and demands that they give Melissa her freedom and return her to her family immediately," the German homeschool group said.
The teen had fallen behind in Latin and math studies, and was being tutored at home in those subjects. When school officials found out they expelled her, then took the family to court when they began homeschooling.
The court order executed last week said, "The relevant Youth Welfare Office is hereby instructed and authorized to bring the child, if necessary by force, to a hearing and may obtain police support for this purpose."
Michael Farris, cofounder of the HSLDA, has called for an amendment to the U.S. Constitution to protect the right of parents to educate their children at home, in light of such developments in Europe.
One of his major concerns is that if the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, a plan already accepted as law by many nations around the globe, were ratified by the Senate or adopted by the federal courts as enforceable international law, American homeschooling could be banned.
The HSLDA said it has about 80,000 members and estimates there about 2 million children homeschooled in the United States each year, a total that is growing at a rate between 7 percent and 15 percent annually.
Homeschool students consistently score 20 to 30 percentile points higher on standardized achievement tests than their public school peers, and one-third of the parents cite the negative social environment of public schools as a reason for homeschooling. Another one-third cite moral and religious instruction and a smaller segment labels public schools as dissatisfactory.
As adults, they are significantly more involved, with studies showing that more than 74 percent of homeschooled graduates ages 18-24 voted in an election in the past 5 years. That compares to a token 29 percent of public schooled graduates.