Homeschooling in the Nineties, Part 4 — The Modern Homeschooling Movement

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During the 1970s and 1980s, a few parents began to think again about educating their children at home. Two people who greatly influenced them were California educator Dr. Raymond Moore and popular radio host Dr. James Dobson. Reader’s Digest published Moore’s book Better Late Than Early in 1975. Moore encouraged parents not to begin formal schooling until children were older than what is typical. On his Focus on the Family program, Dobson spoke often about problems in public schools.

A small number of parents decided to teach their children at home. These homeschooling parents were true pioneers. They had few options for curriculum. Even some suppliers of Christian school curriculum refused to sell to homeschooling families.

Some states made it very difficult for homeschooling parents. Government officials sometimes took legal action against them. Still these homeschooling families persevered. Some brave parents worked to change state laws to make homeschooling legal. In time they were successful in all 50 states, though the regulations that each state imposed on homeschoolers varied greatly.

Curriculum suppliers that had once refused to sell to homeschoolers began to seek their business, and new curriculum companies wrote material specifically for homeschoolers.

Parents formed state organizations. These organizations stayed in contact with state legislators (and they still do!). Many hosted legislative days at state capitals where legislators could meet real homeschooling families.

Local, regional, and state groups began to host homeschool conventions, where parents could come together to learn how to improve their teaching skills and where they could choose from the growing variety of materials.

In 1980 The Teaching Home magazine began publication. By 1994, it had 37,000 subscribers. The magazine had newsletter editors in 41 states. Magazine staff stapled an appropriate newsletter for magazine subscribers in those states. Attorneys founded the Home School Legal Defense Association in 1983. By 1993 it had 37,000 members. By 1999 its membership reached approximately 60,000. Homeschool researcher Dr. Brian Ray estimated that 1.23 million children were being homeschooled in 1996. Author’s Note: The Notgrass family began to homeschool in 1990. They began Notgrass Company, which later became Notgrass History, in 1999.

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Local newspapers used to put in stories about new businesses. We set up our den for a photo shoot for the newspaper in 1999, not long after Ray transitioned from fulltime minister to fulltime curriculum publisher. In front of us and in our hands are a few of our products in 3-ring binders with slide-in covers. Behind us are some of the many books we tried, rather unsuccessfully, to sell along with the few products we had completed at the time. The bright yellow pamphlet behind us is our stapled “catalog.”

Well, there you have the “Reader’s Digest version” of the modern homeschooling movement. Coming up tomorrow is the final section of my Homeschooling in the Nineties lesson. The title for tomorrow is Success. Soon after the modern homeschooling movement began, homeschooling families and their friends and families started seeing successes. However, then and now, the best success is the one the apostle John saw in the people he wrote to in 3 John.

For I was overjoyed when brothers came
and testified to your truth,
that is, how you are walking in truth. 
I have no greater joy than this,
to hear of my children walking in the truth.
3 John 4



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