- - Thursday, March 6, 2014

In many places in America the quality of public schools has declined and the cost of a private alternative is rising. The situation has sparked renewed interest in home schooling.

Governments don’t like the idea of parents getting actually involved in the education of their children, so it was a welcome surprise Tuesday when the Department of Homeland Security decided to lift the threat of deportation from a German family who had fled to America for asylum in 2008.

The plight of Uwe and Hannelore Romeike was unusual because the only reason they faced persecution in Germany was their decision to teach their six children at home.

The news of the surprising U.S. decision to grant “indefinite deferred status,” allowing the family to stay in the United States permanently, arrived none too soon. The day before, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear the German family’s appeal of an adverse ruling from the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati.

Germany bans home schooling under a Nazi-era law still enforced by the state. Had the Romeikes been forced to return, they would have been at risk of losing custody of their children, or at minimum steep fines for violating the compulsory public-school attendance laws.

The children, ranging in age from 3 to 17, were only slightly better off than Elian Gonzalez, the little Cuban boy forcibly repatriated to Cuba by the Clinton administration in April 2000.

Germany enforces its law severely. A German court ordered the four home-schooled children of Dirk and Petra Wunderlich removed at gunpoint in August. Although the couple regained custody, another court in December barred the family from moving to another country where home schooling is legal.

According to the German judge, home schooling poses “a concrete endangerment to the well-being of the child,” nevertheless conceding that the Wunderlich children were academically proficient, well-adjusted socially and had no educational deficiencies.

“Didn’t the Wall come down in 1989?” asks the Purcellville, Va.-based Home School Legal Defense Association, which has been leading the legal fight on behalf of the Romeikes.

James R. Mason III, the senior counsel of the home schooling association, told The Washington Times on Thursday that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) gave no reason for the sudden about-face.

“The outcome is unusual, but not unheard of,” he says. “While DHS did not agree with our legal position about asylum, they did not want to send the Romeikes back to Germany, either.”

The Romeikes pose no threat to national security in the way 30,000 Syrians, displaced by civil war, will do. The Obama administration wants to allow them to resettle in the United States.

In Germany, Chancellor Angela Merkel must dismantle that last remaining vestige of totalitarianism there and make home schooling legal. Mrs. Merkel, tear down that wall.