On NHERI’s 30th Year Anniversary
by Rebecca Ray
Maybe you have heard this often-cited statistic: on average, homeschool students score 15 to 30 percentile points higher on achievement tests than their public-school peers. This fact has been cited in countless news stories, online or in print, as well as in interviews, legislative hearings, and court cases. But have you ever stopped to wonder where this statistic about homeschooling came from? In fact, have you ever considered where homeschooling would be today without the body of evidence that it works?
Since 1990, the National Home Education Research Institute (NHERI) has conducted research, compiled statistics, and directed surveys in order to defend our freedom to homeschool with facts and evidence – including our oft-cited statistic above. When Dr. Brian Ray, the president of NHERI and founder of the peer-reviewed journal The Home School Researcher, published his first nationwide study of homeschooling, it was the first of its kind in history. This year marks the thirtieth anniversary of NHERI—thirty years playing an integral role in the protection of homeschool rights by providing statistics used in legislative assemblies and in courts.
In 1990, Dr. Ray began testifying as an expert witness in court cases defending home education, as well as testifying to legislatures at the request of legislators and homeschool organizations. Over the years, his research and testimony has been used in countless cases – cases that give us the ability to enjoy the freedom of educational choice.
As Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) President Mike Smith says, “HSLDA has lost track of how many times Brian Ray has been called on to help establish the validity and success of homeschooling in courtrooms and legislatures around the country. We are so grateful for this expert testimony in court on behalf of homeschooling families.”
Not only has Dr. Ray testified in West Virginia court cases, but CHEWV has commissioned his work on two different state-wide statistical studies – both of which have been integral to defend homeschooling freedom here.
In fact, U.S. states, from Oregon to Ohio, have benefitted from NHERI’s work, as have nations as far-flung as Japan, Poland, Columbia, Russia, and South Africa. NHERI travels worldwide to present the data needed to defend the right of parents everywhere to choose the form of education they deem best for their child.
Thirty years into NHERI’s service, there remains a crucial need for empirical evidence for why home education is a viable choice for parents in every state. Homeschooling has been around long enough that counter arguments have changed from the typical “What about socialization?” and “Will they be successful?” to “What about child abuse?” and “What about minorities?” Research must now shift to reflect this change.
As we celebrate the thirtieth anniversary of NHERI, let’s reflect on all the work of those who have paved the way before us. We can’t let their work be forgotten, or even undone, as we enjoy the hard-won freedom to homeschool. There is no guarantee that things will continue to go on as they are now or continue to get better. Without NHERI’s dedication to research, we would not be where we are today.
Stay up to date on the latest research, read hundreds of articles, and support the work of NHERI by visiting www.nheri.org.
Rebecca Ray is a 27-year-old homeschool graduate and the daughter-in-law of Brian Ray. She writes, “I often take my freedom to homeschool my own children someday for granted.” Thank you, Rebecca, for helping us recognize those who are invaluable to our freedom – and encouraging us to take up the cause for our own future.