The Harms of Homeschooling? Where Are the Premises?

The Harms of Homeschooling?

Where Are the Premises?

by Brian D. Ray, Ph.D.


Data-based research has consistently revealed favorable things related to the modern homeschool movement for about 25 years. Theoretical philosophical research, on the other hand, argues conflicting things about home-educating families and students. For example, professor Robin West recently published a controversial piece entitled “The Harms of Homeschooling”[1] that will be the main subject of this article. To set the stage for this discussion, a very brief summary of research on home education is important.

Repeated studies by many researchers and data provided by United States state departments of education show that home-educated students consistently score, on average, well above the public school average on standardized academic achievement tests.[2] To date, no research has found homeschool students to be doing worse, on average, than their counterparts in state-run schools.

Multiple studies by various researchers have found the home educated to be doing well in terms of their social, emotional, and psychological development.[3] Further, the limited research on the topic to date reveals that adults who were home educated are typically doing well on all measures considered, and they appear to be happy, on average, productive, and civically engaged members of their communities. No research has controverted these two general conclusions.

Finally, regarding empirical studies, this author is not aware of any research that has involved collected data and has shown that the practice of home-based education, homeschool parents, homeschool students, or adults who were home educated are harming, on average, one another, their neighbors, their communities, or their nations.

The purpose of this article is twofold, to show that the “harms of homeschooling” that West alleges basically have no foundation in research evidence and to note that West’s proposal for the state to control homeschool parents and their children is based on a worldview that it antithetical to one held by a significant portion of Americans.

Overview of West’s Article

West, in her piece, attempts to do two things. She begins by asserting that homeschooling that is not regulated more by the state is likely to harm children in several ways. She then moves on, from a particular but unspecified worldview, to propose government law and policies to control private homeschooling so that children and youth are less likely to be harmed. Her basic thesis and most of her ideas are not new. For example, Reich[4] has argued that the state must control home-based education to make sure that the students learn basic knowledge and skills, become psychologically autonomous, are not “ethically servile,” and become decent, civil, and respectful. Similarly, Yuracko[5] argued that the state must increase its control over home education to make sure children and youth are exposed to “liberal values” (p. 10) and to “… check rampant forms of sexism in homeschooling” (p. 11).

Seven Claims

Read the seven claims” here:

Read what Brian Ray says about West’s “Harms,” Solutions, and Worldview, and the Problem” here:

Read Brian Ray’s Conclusions and Cautions” here:

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