Interview with Valerie Moon, Part 2

Adrienne: Wow — an interesting story that prompts a few questions. Were your children in a DoDEA school?

Valerie: Yes.

Adrienne: What kind of legal requirements were there when you pulled the kids out of school?

Valerie: None. DoDEA has no “jurisdiction over all military kids.” The schools are a benefit, not a requirement.

Adrienne: My understanding is that military families are often required to follow the education laws of the country in which they’re residing: was that the case for you?

Valerie: It’s very long and drawn out.

In the United States, military family members – who are civilians; only the servicemember is a part of the military – are under the jurisdiction of the state’s education laws, just like anyone else who moves to the state. Confusion arises because the servicemember’s pay is taxed according to the laws of the state he or she claims as a home of record; ditto for voting (for husbands and wives as well), and the driving license of the servicemember. Some states also allow the husband or wife of the servicemember to keep the driving license of the home of record, but it isn’t universal. Education is not one of the areas in which military family members are exempt from local requirements. Just as children who are in local public schools follow the policies of those schools, so, too do homeschoolers follow the state’s laws.

Overseas, though, status of forces agreements (SOFAs) are in place to govern the relationship between local law enforcement and servicemembers, DoD civilians (civilians employed by the Army, Air Force, Navy or Marines), and their family members. All the “members of the force” are (usually?) still under the jurisdiction of host nation criminal law (which is why when those Marines raped that Japanese girl years ago, there was such an uproar in Japan when the Marines retained custody. We’ve never lived in Japan, so I’m not as familiar with that SOFA as I am with the NATO SOFA.).

Social services laws, though, seem to be in a different category as in the NATO SOFA, members of the force from a “sending state” are excluded. Therefore, members of the force do not pay host nation income taxes, are not eligible for host nation social security or medical insurance, and do not acquire any right to vote in host nation elections. I’ve never seen education mentioned in any SOFA, but it seems to fall into the ‘social services’ category as DoD schools have no affiliation with host nation school systems. I also doubt that the local towns would not appreciate paying for the education of foreigners who pay no taxes to support the schools.

Civilian-civilians who are overseas on a tourist passport without a SOFA stamp are expected to follow local education law. Military people are usually ignored.

I have a much longer version at:

http://www.nhen.org/nhen/pov/military/default.asp?id=351

Adrienne: What were the laws like when you were homeschooling? I know that today the German government is fairly anti-homeschooling, but perhaps things were different when you started.

Valerie: They were the same as they are now. Homeschooling was illegal for people who were either citizens of EU countries living in Germany, or “ordinarily resident.”

Local friends warned me that I’d be fined, arrested and have my children taken away, but I assume they were unaware of the SOFA. I homeschooled the kids in Germany from 1990 to 1997. We moved to Belgium and homeschooled there for the one year the kids had left until they received their diplomas.

Adrienne: I was really surprised when I first learned about the legal status of homeschooling in Europe. I think I had assumed the laws would be very similar to what they are in the US, but, as you note, that’s not the case at all.

Valerie: No. The culture of compulsory schooling has a longer history in Europe than it does here, and the cultural rationale and development was different than the course followed in the United States (“200 years of compulsory schooling in Bavaria“).

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2 Comments on “Interview with Valerie Moon, Part 2”


  1. […] “Interview with Valerie Moon, Part II” […]


  2. […] Interview with Valerie Moon, Part 2: Adrienne: My understanding is that military families are often required to follow the education laws of the country in which they’re residing: was that the case for you? […]


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