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Wednesday, March 21, 2007
We Get Letters
Topic: WorldNetDaily

From a reader:

I'm just commenting on this piece criticisind WND's treatment  of the Melissa Busekros case. Although I agree that Bob Unruh has, in some regards, exaggerated the situation with hyperbole (e.g. it is not definite that the State wants to take away the other Busekros children, but the fact that they want to have the parental practises assessed and the accusations made by the Jugendamt against the family indicate that this is a strong possibility in the future), some of the criticism of him here is unfair.

Let me just place myself in context. I am an atheist, home-educating mother of four children living in Germany.  Although I am not German, I am fluent in that language and am very familiar with German educational and social nuances. I am also involved in a legal dispute with our local school authorities, due to the fact that our children are home-educated.

Back to the blog article in question. Although compulsory schooling was introduced by the Weimar republic, it was possible to fulfil this requirement by attending a private school or by being tutored at home. Thus, as Unruh correctly states, public education was not mandatory before the Nazi era.

The Reischsschulgesetz (school law) introduced in 1938 eliminated both these possibilities, making the State school the only recognisable form. It also introduced Schulzwang (enforced schooling), which made it possible for the police to take children to school, something that still happens today in Germany. Although, after the Second World War, private schools were once
again legalised, the requirements for starting private schools are very restrictive.

Although I am aware that one should be careful of slinging the "Nazi" label around, it is also true that the kind of statist mindset that led to the rise of the Nazis is still very present in Germany.

Maybe I am wrong, but isn't this blog entry a case of the pot calling the kettle black? Is the author of the entry being biased him or herself? Basically, homeschoolers are "pro-homeschool ideologues" (the use of this term is what makes me question the author's own unbiasedness), it would be ridiculous for them to be anything else. Even when they are, like me, ex-schoolteachers.

I agree that journalists should be careful of becoming advocates. I would also be interested if the author of this blog entry has made anything of both sides of the story. They are freely available on the webpage of the Netzwerk Bildungsfreiheit, which has documentation of court cases and statements by representatives of the state.

To respond: My problem with WND is not that its writers are homeschoolers or have a pro-homeschool bias but, rather, that they won't honestly admit that they have this bias (among others), portraying it instead as their brand of "new media." My rhetoric is no stronger than what they themselves use. If Unruh would tell the full story of the Buskeros case -- which involves talking to the other side, which, aside from copying quotes from a Spiegel article, he has yet to do -- I would have no problem. But since he chooses to gather his information almost exclusively from one side of the case and portray the other side only has described by the side he associates with, we have a problem with journalistic integrity and credibility.

While I try to tell the other side of the story of cases that I take on, it's very difficult to do in the Buskeros case because it is taking place in a non-English-speaking country and I've forgotten pretty much all of the two years of German I took in high school. Thus, it behooves those who call themselves journalists -- as Unruh does -- to make the effort to tell a full and fair version of the story. Unruh has not done so, and that's what I'm pointing out

Posted by Terry K. at 1:25 AM EDT
Updated: Wednesday, March 21, 2007 1:28 AM EDT

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