Frequently Asked Questions
The Coalition for Responsible Home Education (CRHE) is a nonprofit organization founded by homeschool alumni to advocate for the interests of homeschooled children. We conduct research, create resources, and promote sound homeschooling policy. We are committed to advocating for common-sense laws that respect freedom of choice in education style and methodology but contain the checks and balances necessary to ensure the wellbeing and educational success of all homeschooled children.
We are a non-partisan organization and are not affiliated with any particular religious beliefs. We will work with people of any faith or none and who are of any political affiliation, provided that their goals are compatible with our mission and vision.
We do not provide direct services. However, whenever possible we do provide resources and information. Our page for currently homeschooled students is a good place to start. If you or someone you know is in an abusive or neglectful homeschooling situation, you may find our child abuse or educational neglect sections helpful. If you have additional questions or concerns, feel free to contact us. Please bear in mind that we cannot ourselves become involved in child welfare cases or offer legal advice.
Please see our For Friends, Neighbors, and Family page and our child abuse or educational neglect sections for resources and information. If you have additional questions or concerns, feel free to contact us. However, while we can offer information and resources we do not provide direct services and cannot ourselves become involved in child welfare cases or offer legal advice.
The Coalition for Responsible Home Education (CRHE) is an entirely distinct organization from Homeschool Alumni Reaching Out (HARO), which facilitates the Homeschoolers Anonymous (HA) community. The two organizations have different missions: CRHE focuses primarily on research and policy while HARO focuses primarily on community building. CRHE and HARO may occasionally work together on projects that are of interest to both groups.
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Homeschooling is an educational option that allows parents to teach their children at home instead of sending them to school. For more, see What Is Homeschooling.
In 2011, the most recent year for which we have data, nearly two million students (1,770,000 to be exact), or 3.4% of school aged children in the United States, were homeschooled. For more, see Homeschooling Numbers.
While studies of homeschooling have typically found that homeschool families are whiter, wealthier, and have parents with higher levels of education than the national average, more recent data suggests that homeschooling may be growing more demographically diverse. For more, see Homeschool Demographics.
Parents choose homeschooling for a wide variety of reasons, including a desire to provide rigorous or innovative academic instruction, holistic religious instruction, or instruction individualized to a student’s special needs; concerns about the environment in public or private schools; and a need for family flexibility. For more, see Reasons Parents Homeschool.
We know that students who are homeschooled can succeed academically. We also know that that homeschooled children tend to score better on reading than they do on mathematics. What we do not know is how well the average homeschooled student does academically or whether homeschooling can be credited for the success of those who are high achievers. For more, see Academic Achievement.
Many homeschooled children are involved in a wide array of activities outside of the home and receive adequate socialization. Some homeschooled children thrive and have a very positive social experience. However, the number of outside activities homeschool families are involved in can vary greatly, and some homeschooled children do not receive the level of social interaction they need. These children may experience loneliness or, in severe cases, develop social phobias. For more, see Homeschooling & Socialization
We know that homeschool graduates who attend college tend to succeed academically and, with some adjustment, socially. However, some statistics indicate that homeschooling may depress college attendance. Further, anecdotal evidence suggests that children homeschooled in abusive or neglectful environments face many challenges when seeking to attend college or enter the job market. Unfortunately, we have no representative data on homeschool outcomes. More research is needed. For more, see Homeschool Outcomes.
The International Center for Home Education Research publishes reviews of new research on homeschooling, and education scholar Milton Gaither has been reviewing homeschool research since 2008. We also publish critical analyses of homeschool research on our Research Analysis page. Please contact us if you have a question about a piece of homeschool research.
We support homeschooling policy that centers on children’s interests, recognizes homeschooling’s flexibility and potential for innovation, and reflects what most responsible homeschooling parents already do. We believe that effective oversight can be achieved within the varied forms of homeschooling law currently in place across the states. We recommend notification, parent qualification, subject, and record keeping requirements, protections for at-risk children, and annual assessments. We urge policymakers to approach parents’ and children’s interests as equally valuable and deserving of respect. Finally, we oppose intrusive or overly burdensome oversight and promote policies that take into account and support the flexible and innovative nature of homeschooling. For more, see our Policy Recommendations.
We believe that both the rights of the parents and the rights of the children must be respected. In 1925, the Supreme Court recognized the right of parents and guardians to “direct the upbringing and education of children under their control” (Pierce v. Society of Sisters). We believe that parents or guardians should be allowed to choose how to educate their children, but not whether to educate their children. Thus while we support homeschooling as a legal and accessible educational option, we believe there must be accountability measures in place to ensure that learning is taking place and that homeschooling is not being used as a cover for truancy or to hide abuse or neglect.
We believe that unschooling, which involves child-led learning with parents serving as facilitators, can be a positive educational experience and can foster student success. However, we oppose unschooling being invoked to excuse or hide educational deprivation. We developed our Recognizing Educational Neglect page with unschooling in mind, in an effort to help concerned individuals differentiate between innovative educational methods like unschooling and failure to educate.
Children who are homeschooled should be held to the same immunization standards as other students in their state. As such, parents should be required to submit proof of immunization or exemption to either state or local education officials or an umbrella school.
We support policies that make public school resources available to homeschooled students, including part-time enrollment, sports teams, special needs services, and other extracurriculars. We believe that a positive and cooperative relationship between public schools and homeschool families is in the best interests of everyone involved.
We believe that homeschooling can be a positive and supportive environment for children with disabilities. We support policies that safeguard the interests of disabled children by requiring that each have an annual individualized education plan developed cooperatively by the parents and the child’s service provider. We also believe that homeschooled students with disabilities should have access to testing and services provided by their local public schools at a level that is comparable to what is received by public school students.
CRHE does not support homeschool policy that results in prohibitive financial costs to parents, creates unfunded mandates for districts, or is wasteful of taxpayer dollars. We believe that feasibility studies and cost-benefit analysis have a place in homeschooling policy, but that safeguarding the interests of homeschooled children is worth an investment. The cost of effective homeschooling oversight is relatively minimal and saves money in the long run because today’s healthy children are tomorrow’s responsible adults. We propose that public school districts or state departments of education set aside a portion of state or federal education funding to cover the expenses of homeschool oversight and allow access to services such as standardized testing or formal evaluation at no cost or a discounted rate. Similarly, we support providing public schools with education funding for the services they provide homeschooled students, including part-time enrollment and special needs services.
Religious fundamentalism can in some cases contribute to abuse and neglect. However, abuse and neglect occurs in nonreligious homeschool settings as well, and many fundamentalist religious parents are able provide their children with a healthy upbringing and sound education. While religion is a factor in some of the abuse and neglect cases listed in the Homeschooling’s Invisible Children database, it does not play a role in the majority of the cases. When abuse and neglect do occur in religious fundamentalist families, homeschooling can compound the problem by allowing parents to isolate their children and by offering parents the opportunity to act on sexist ideas about gender and education.
While homeschooling does not make parents abusive, it does provide abusive parents with a powerful tool they can use to isolate and control their children, hiding visible signs of abuse and limiting social access to responsible and trusted adults in their child’s life. While all forms of abuse and neglect are bad, former homeschooled students who have attended school for part of their childhood typically report that their abuse was worst when they were homeschooled because there was no regular contact with mandatory reporters to serve as a check on their parents’ abuse. Similarly, there are numerous documented cases of abusive parents withdrawing their children from school in order to remove them from contact with mandatory reporters who might notice and report their abuse.
We support efforts to better protect all abused and neglected children. While there are numerous organizations working on the prevention of child abuse, their efforts to protect children who are abused or neglected often assume that children will attend school—thus overlooking homeschooled children. We hope to fill this gap by focusing on protections for homeschooled students specifically. We understand that school attendance does not in and of itself prevent abuse or neglect, but we also know that abusive and neglectful parents can and do use homeschooling to further isolate their children and conceal their abuse to devastating and often tragic ends. As former homeschooled students ourselves, we advocate for protections for these students.
Bullying can occur anywhere a group of human beings gather, including parks, churches, schools, workplaces, homes, and soccer fields. Bullying in public schools has long been a problem, and there is now a known connection between childhood bullying and adverse adult health and well-being measures. In recent years, public schools have recognized this issue and, in conjunction with mental health providers, most have taken steps to reduce the prevalence of cultures conducive to bullying. Due to increased training on the topic, educators who in the past may have shrugged their shoulders now have a framework in which to understand bullying and what must be done to prevent and reduce it. We see this as a very positive change.
In some homeschools—particularly ones where domestic violence, authoritarian attitudes, or harsh corporal punishment occur—damaging amounts of bullying can happen within the family. Homeschooling alone does not serve as protection from bullying.
The homeschool community is currently not doing a good job of self-policing, for several reasons. It is always difficult to report a friend, family member, or neighbor to child protective services, and many people with valid concerns fail to report for fear of being identified as the reporter. Many homeschool communities also have a culture of individualism and family sovereignty that may get in the way of intervening in troubling situations or reporting concerns. Further, many of the homeschooled children most in need of help—those being abused or neglected—may be hidden or isolated from involvement with their local homeschool communities.
While individual social workers may have their own biases, they are screened before hiring to ensure their ability to fairly and effectively investigate abuse or neglect in families of any background and beliefs, and trained to respect individual cultural differences. Social workers also are expected to adhere to the Social Work Code of Ethics. They look for signs of abuse or neglect and only write reports about actual suspicious evidence of maltreatment of the child, and cannot legally discriminate based on religion or educational choice. Like other public employees, social workers are accountable to their superiors and their actions and decisions will be investigated and may be appealed should concerns of professional misconduct arise. Social workers have reported that it can be intimidating to investigate cases involving homeschooling. The chance of being accused of inappropriate interventions by prominent homeschool associations defending dues-paying members against social workers and child protection agencies can create an adversarial culture and an atmosphere of suspicion. CRHE hopes to build cooperation and trust through education and dialogue.