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NHERI Celebrates 30 years
by Rebecca Ray
As a 27-year-old graduate of home education, I often take my freedom to homeschool my own children someday for granted. I'm just young enough that I don't remember the risk or fear many families experienced just by simply choosing to raise their children in the way they saw fit. Sadly, I think that I'm not alone. How many parents and students today that enjoy the comparative freedom to choose personalized education in America don't appreciate the years of toil to bring it about?
Additionally, if we are aware of the effort put into establishing our freedom to choose our children's education, many of us think about the legislators, lawyers, and court cases. Up until more recently, it simply didn't occur to me that in order for those lawyers to present their evidence to legislative assemblies and courts, this evidence would need to be gathered and summarized by someone. That's where the oft-overlooked National Home Education Research Institute (NHERI) comes in. Since 1985, Dr. Brian Ray has been publishing his journal The Home School Researcher , which has been peer-reviewed for many years. In 1990, 30 years ago, NHERI was founded by a group of forward-looking men and Dr. Ray published his first nationwide study of homeschooling, the first of its kind in history.
Also in 1990, the president of NHERI, Dr. Ray, began testifying as an expert witness in court cases defending home education. He also began testifying to legislatures at the request of legislators and homeschool organizations. His research and testimony over the years has been used in countless cases to give you the ability to enjoy the freedom of educational choice you experience today. HSLDA (Home School Legal Defense Association) President Mike Smith said, "HSLDA has lost track of how many times Brian Ray has been called on to help establish the validity and success of homeschooling in court rooms and legislatures around the country. We are so grateful for his expert testimony in court on behalf of homeschooling families."
Maybe you have heard something like this factual tidbit: Homeschool students score 15 to 30 percentile points higher on achievement tests, on average, than their public-school peers. It's been cited in countless news stories online and in print, in interviews, legislative hearings, and court cases. But where do these statistics and other facts come from? They have been surveyed, compiled, and/or reviewed by NHERI over the past three decades. Check out the research at www.nheri.org/research .
Thirty years into NHERI's service, we still need good solid research. People need empirical evidence on why home education continues to be a viable choice for parents in every state. Homeschooling has been around long enough that the arguments against it are now changing from the typical "what about socialization?" and "will they be successful?" to "what about child abuse?" and "what about minorities?" The research must now come to reflect that change. Even as the arguments against educational freedom change from socialization and academic success to other topics, so now the research must reflect that change.
Nations as far-flung as Japan, Poland, Columbia, Russia, and South Africa have benefitted from NHERI's work. The ability to homeschool in many nations and the public's perception of home education has been significantly influenced by the work and research of NHERI. States across the nation, ranging from Oregon to Massachusetts and Ohio to Texas, have been served by NHERI. NHERI continues to travel across the world and the United States, presenting solid facts and defending the right of parents everywhere to choose the form of education they deem best for their child. For example, in January of this year, Dr. Ray was the sole supporter of fundamental home-education rights in a broadcast by National Public Radio (NPR) on homeschool regulation.
As we celebrate the 30 th anniversary of NHERI, let's reflect on all the work of those who have paved the way before us. Let's not let their work be forgotten, or even undone as we sit back and enjoy these freedoms. Let's not assume that things will go on as they are now or continue to get better. Let's carry the torch of freedom in the realm of parental rights and educational choice throughout our communities and to the world. Let's stay vigilant and persevere.
You can stay up to date on the latest research, read hundreds of research works, and support the work of NHERI at www.nheri.org .
1985: Home School Researcher journal founded; now been peer-reviewed for many years
1988: Interviews on NBC Today Show
1990: nationwide study of homeschooling, first of its kind in history
1990: 9/10/90, expert witness services begin, maybe this was the first time, can figure out, Ray testifies as an expert witness on home education, court case in Columbia, South Carolina (SC), Lawrence vs. SC State Board of Education (EEE testing case)
1993: NHERI/Ray's 1990 "nationwide study" is cited in majority opinion in Michigan Supreme Court case "People v. DeJonge 501 N.W. 2d 127 (Mich. 1993)," No. 91479, "Filed May 25, 1993."
1994: Canada nationwide study
1997: circa, another U.S. nationwide study like the 1990 one
1999: 7/27/99 - NBC Today Show airs story on home schooling w/ interview of Dr. Ray, pretty sure I have this video
2003: Ray/NHERI served as an invited speaker at the Annual Conference of the American Association of Museums, Homeschoolers and museums: Informing fruitful connections. A presentation at the Annual Conference of the American Association of Museums, May 21, 2003, Portland, Oregon.
2004: Nationwide adults study
2005: special guest at conference by the US Forest Service
2010: Another nationwide study of home education completed
Date?: Staub court case, Pennsylvania, Ray/NHERI cited
2014: Completed Gen2 Survey: A Spiritual and Educational Survey on Christian Millenials
2015: Nationwide African American/Black study completed, first of its kind in history
2017: JSC review of peer-reviewed research, donor made this crucial article open access (no fee) to
Date?: Invited to give presentations at AERA American Educational Research Association
2018: Research contract with DOD and USDE
2019: Invited to give presentations in Poland and Africa
2020: Invited to speak as only pro-homeschooling advocate on a broadcast by NPR
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Together with the support of my family, my aim is to help parents educate their children in stress-free, nurturing environments. In addition to building and maintaing this website, I continue to create and manage local and national home educating networks, help to organise conferences and camps, as well as write for, edit and produce newsletters, resource directories and magazines. I am an active supporter of national, state, regional and local home education groups.
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We began educating our children in 1985, when our eldest was five. In truth, we had helped them learn what they need to learn since they were born. I am a passionate advocate of allowing children to learn unhindered by unnecessary stress and competition, meeting developmental needs in ways that suit their individual learning styles and preferences. Ours was a homeschooling, unschooling and natural learning family! There are hundreds of articles on this site to help you build confidence as a home educating family. We hope that your home educating adventure is as satisfying as ours was! Beverley Paine
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