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March 18, 2013

Reactions strong among local parents in homeschool battle

DUNCAN — For three years now, the Romeike family from Germany has been residing in Tennessee fighting a battle to stay in America after being granted political asylum in Jan. 2010, a decision that was appealed by the Obama administration two months later. The family is still awaiting yet another court date but the government’s position on this has been causing concern with American homeschoolers including those in Stephens County.

“It is sad to me that our country is going this direction, that our president chooses to do this,” Lana Walker said. “If you have children, why would you not be able to raise them the way you choose?”

“I was really shocked,” Jamie Battiest said. “My jaw just kind of dropped. They went through all the legal hoops they needed to go through. It seems like Obama is singling them out by coming at them in this manner. When you look at the people who have not gone through all the hoops and who have intentionally come here illegally, he is going to support them and grant them citizenship. Yet, someone who has done all the necessary things, he is going to prosecute them and send them away. That in itself would prove that there is a bias, in my opinion.”

Both Walker and Battiest homeschool their children, as does Don Beasley. All are Stephens County residents.

“The justice department has said no family anywhere has the right to homeschool,” Beasley said. “If our justice department is saying that, this is a whole lot bigger issue.”

Across the 50 states, laws have been set in place that grant families protection to choose a home education for their children. However, officials in the Homeschool Legal Defense Association and parents are concerned this could be the start of problems for homeschoolers under the Obama administration.

“It appears to us that they are taking a stand against the right to homeschool,”  Beasley said.

“There are a lot of concerns for coming generations not particularly because of the education itself but because of a transition in society as a whole,” Ron Smith, also a parent who has chosen the homeschool route for his children.

Battiest said she believes it shows hostility in the Obama administration. With Obama’s previous decisions including those made with Hobby Lobby and birth control, Battiest said she is concerned that once decisions are made with the current issues such as the budget he might pursue homeschoolers more aggressively. Since many families homeschool for religious reasons, this is an attack on many people’s religious beliefs, some contend.

“It seems like he has no respect for the freedom of religion, which is one of our basic rights,” Battiest said. “The whole reason Pilgrims and so many people came to America was for religious freedom here. Here we are, 300 years later, and we are seeing some of the same persecution that people left England for.”

“I believe the thinking is that children belong to the government,” Beasley said. “That is just a totally wrong concept and is an affront to the family.”

Homeschooling in Germany has been illegal since the days of Hitler.

“Hitler took homeschooling away in 1938,” Walker said. “He wanted to take children away from their parents. He brainwashed them. Germany has not changed that. It does not sound like Germany wants anybody to think out of their box. It scares me to think that our country could be headed in the same direction.”

“God will not pour out his blessings on a government that is causing hardship to a family that is doing their best to raise their family in the way they feel God would have them to live,” Homeschooling mother Amy Curtis said.

Currently, Oklahoma has fewer restrictions than many other states with home education, which could cause even bigger changes if national leaders began making legislature changes on this issue.”

“We are so thankful for the freedoms we have in Oklahoma to homeschool,” Melanie Beasley said.

“We have leaders in our state that are friendly to homeschooling,” Don Beasley said. “That is a real blessing for us.”

As the Romeike family awaits a final decision, homeschoolers in the area and the nation will be watching for both the decision and any repercussions of this decision. The Romeike family is being represented by Michael Farris of the Homeschool Legal Defense Association.

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