Homeschooling and the art of political asylum

Sonali Kudva

At the beginning of this month, I read a most interesting news report in Time (“Homeschooling: German Family Gets Political Asylum in U.S”) . A German family with two children was granted political asylum to this great country on the grounds that they home school their children.

Whaaaat? If that’s your reaction when you read the above, then do keep reading, because this promises a tirade now on the eligibility of immigrants to this country. Being an “alien” myself, I know how hard it is to find a job in this country, let alone figure out a way to immigrate here. But that’s OK, I got it now. I need to have kids and home school them.

Immigration rulings like this expose the vulnerabilities in a system that was supposedly designed to act as a sieve, catching those “desirable” to stay and weeding out those “unnecessary” to this country. So what makes this case different? What makes it different, I say, is the way in which sometimes the system may and clearly has been exploited (in this case at least), clearly bypassing the immigration sieve.

Seeking political asylum used to be the last defense a person had, when life became intolerable in one’s own country due to a lack of tolerance and where there was danger to one’s life. The dislike for a country’s rules and regulations did not make you eligible for political asylum. In my opinion, homeschooling does not qualify as a valid reason to be granted political asylum.

A reading of another article, (“Top home-school texts dismiss Darwin, evolution,” AP) with the results of a recent study on homeschooling disturbed me still further. The results of the study on home-schooling pointed out that while home-schooling is an option, most people who choose this option are those who are self-proclaimed Evangelical Christians. And this is exactly what the family from Germany was. One has to wonder, does faith have anything to do with this immigration decision? There could be a precedent then of those who petition for homeschooling on the basis of not liking one’s curriculum, or the professors one has at school.

While home-schooling is a choice by some parents who wish to keep their children away from a more liberal curriculum involving those aspects of science not in keeping with one’s faith (read: evolution), it is not a choice that should allow someone to go against a country’s law and bypass it.

This decision in fact shows, to me at least, the support of this stance. It appears to trivialize what asylum as a concept stands for. It also gives others license to do the same. And far more alarmingly, it sees a trend that gradually shows us giving credibility to the ridiculous, of giving people the easy way out from systems they do not like rather than encouraging a revolution for change.

Sonali Kudva is a journalism

graduate student and columnist

for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact

her at [email protected].