Is anyone involved with NHERI? (National Home Education Research Institute)
A few years back I came across a group called NHERI while doing research for adult education. I find them a fascinating resource on homeschooling, but a bit reactionary. Has anyone else dealt with them? Below is one of the articles they sent me this month. Thoughts?
Sometimes the connection between news stories and articles by professors becomes very clear. For instance, how might Emergency Medical Services (EMS) workers and academics be alike?
In the following, you will read of an EMS worker who appears to think that homeschooling puts children at relative risk for some kind of abuse or harm.
After a concerned mother called 911 fearing her son was choking, an EMS worker proceeded to conduct an inspection of her house on the premise that she homeschooled, telling the woman "we're agents of the state".
So fervent was the emergency medical man's view of homeschoolers that he did his search without the mother's permission and without a search warrant.
After the ordeal, the mother, Krista, wrote:
I. Am. Livid.
The homeschool mom is now seeking legal help.
Now you will read of a professor Robin West, from a prestigious university, saying that the homeschooled, without State control over their education, are at special risk for abuse and harm.
First, children who are homeschooled with no state regulation are at greater risk for unreported and unnoticed physical abuse, when they are completely isolated in homes. (p. 9).
Not only does this professor claim that homeschool children are more at risk than others, she holds that homeschooling in general harms society.
Finally, the economic harms. ..... These families are not living in romantic, rural, self-sufficient farmhouses; they are in trailer parks, 1,000-square-foot homes, houses owned by relatives, and some, on tarps in fields or parking lots. Their lack of job skills, passed from one generation to the next, depresses the community's overall economic health and their state's tax base. (p. 10)
There is a great problem with these kinds of attitudes and claims. There are philosophical, constitutional, political, and other problems. But for a moment, let us consider the empirical problem, especially since the culture of American policymakers, government workers, and academics thinks of itself as rational and oriented toward respecting cold, hard facts. (Furthermore, one must wonder what is so bad about a small American home or living in a home owned by a relative.)
Both the professor and EMS worker have serious empirical problems. There is no research anywhere, of which I have ever heard, suggesting that homeschooled children are more at risk than are State/public schooled or private schooled children. There is not even any research suggesting that the homeschooled are at the same risk as are State and private institutionally schooled children. It is possible, in fact, that one day researchers will find that those in public/State schools and/or private institutional schools are more at risk for abuse or other kinds of harm than are home-educated children. Perhaps one day such research will be conducted.
Research, on the other hand, consistently finds positive things associated with homeschooling. For example, whether the data are collected by researchers or state departments of education, the academic achievement scores of the homeschooled are consistently higher than those in public schools. Second, college students who were home educated appear to fare academically as well or better, on average, than their public schooled and private schooled peers. Finally, recent research suggests that young adults who were home educated are more politically tolerant than those who were raised up in State schools and private institutional schools.
The vast majority of research on homeschooling so far contraindicates the negative claims about and behaviors toward homeschoolers of the professor and the emergency medical worker noted above. Academics, government workers, and the general public should keep in mind that the United States is a free country, that the Supreme Court has ruled that parents - not the government - are in charge of the education and upbringing of children, and that research findings to date indicate many positive things associated with parent-led home-based education (and nothing that suggests overall negative effects).
--Brian D. Ray, Ph.D.
National Home Education Research Institute
P.S. NHERI needs $500 to publish the next issue of the academic, peer-reviewed journal Home School Researcher. You can support the whole issue or part of it here. Thanks to people like you, HSR is in its 30th year of publication!
Two ways to help:
1. Send a check to: NHERI, PO Box 13939, Salem OR 97309 (using a check puts the largest percent of your gift to work at NHERI)
2. Donate online.
NHERI, PO Box 13939, Salem OR 97309, USA
 EMS Worker Tells Mom "We're Agents of the State" During Home Inspection; retrieved May 1, 2014 from http://www.infowars.com/ems-worker-tells-mom-were-agents-of-the-state-during-home-inspection/.
 West, Robin L. (2009, Summer/Fall). The harms of homeschooling. Philosophy and Public Policy Quarterly, 29(3/4), 7-12.
 One must keep in mind the following: Even if research finds a correlation between schooling type and degree of risk for harm, such a numerical relationship or correlation does not necessarily establish causation.
 The Homeschooled More Politically Tolerant? Retrieved May 1, 2014 from http://archive.aweber.com/nheri2010-1/4ybgb/h/The_Homeschooled_More.htm.