The deputy chairman of the CDU/CSU parliamentary group, carsten linnemann (CDU), has triggered a heated debate with his proposal to delay the enrollment of children with poor german skills in school.
"The proposal is wrong. Children must start school when they reach compulsory school age," the federal chairwoman of the elementary school association, maresi lassek, told SWR radio on tuesday. Schools are set to receive children with different language skills, she said. Finally, there were a number of children from german-speaking families who had serious language problems.
Linnemann was also criticized by the opposition for his protests. From his own party came both criticism and support for initiating a discussion about the language skills of elementary school students.
Linnemann told the "rheinische post" (tuesday): "it’s not enough just to carry out language tests for four-year-olds, but consequences must also be drawn. To put it in a nutshell: a child who hardly speaks and understands german has no place in an elementary school. Here must be compulsory pre-schooling, if necessary, its enrollment must also be postponed."He proposed compulsory pre-schooling for affected children. If necessary, a school enrollment must also be postponed.
"I’ve seen parents all the way down to the middle class who send their children to private schools because the standard at state schools is falling," said linnemann, who also warned of "new parallel societies" in this context. "The incidents in freibadern, the act on the frankfurt train platform, the sword attack in stuttgart – all this stirs up people and fuels the worry that new parallel societies could emerge. We must prevent this now."
The CDU politician rejected the term "elementary school ban" for his advocacy. The dpa had used the term in the headline of a news item on the subject and subsequently corrected this. He is concerned that there must be consequences if children do not pass the so-called language proficiency tests before school, linnemann told dpa. If school was started anyway, neither the children from german-speaking households nor those from non-german-speaking households had anything to gain from it.
Linnemann was criticized by the SPD, the left party, the greens and the FDP.
The acting head of the SPD, thorsten schafer-gumbel, told the "stuttgarter zeitung" and the "stuttgarter nachrichten" (wednesday) that he had nothing against good preschools, in which german language skills were also taught. "The undertone of linnemann, however, is indecent and aims not at cohesion but at exclusion."
The president of the baden-wurttemberg state parliament, muhterem aras (grune) tweeted: "i didn’t speak any german when i was 12 years old and went to high school. When my seatmate in the 1. Hour saw that i had drawn the math problem, i was allowed to recalculate it on the blackboard. Later i built up a tax office and became president."Left-wing leader katja kipping told dpa: linnemann is "catching votes in the right-wing swamp" with his rebellions. SPD education politician marja-liisa vollers called linnemann’s statements "populist bluster, as in election times". It was not possible to exclude children from elementary school just because they spoke poor german.
FDP leader christian lindner wrote on twitter: "in classes with many children without knowledge of german there are problems in everyday life."But linnemann had the wrong solution. "Instead of dispensing with enrollment, separate preparatory classes should be set up that require only german at first."
CDU secretary general paul ziemiak spoke out on twitter in favor of language tests before school enrollment: "so that all children can have their say in school and participate on an equal footing, we need targeted language requirements in kindergarten, mandatory language tests everywhere before school enrollment. In case of recognized deficits, compulsory demand and school-accompanying language programs."
The chairman of the young union, tilman kuban, spoke of a "real advance" by linnemann. He tweeted: "if a child is to be enrolled in school in germany, it must know german. Everything else is misunderstood tolerance that helps no one!"Baden-wurttemberg’s minister of education, susanne eisenmann (CDU), reacted cautiously: "i share mr. Linnemann’s view that there is a need for action on language requirements and that we must start as early as possible to challenge children," she announced. "But exclusion is the wrong way. Children need an environment that motivates them and encourages them to learn."
Schleswig-holstein’s education minister karin prien (CDU) had already accused linnemann of "populist nonsense" in the "suddeutsche zeitung" (tuesday): these children belonged in german-as-a-second-language classes "as part of the regular school system.