Monday, August 20, 2007

The home-school community owes a great debt of gratitude to Raymond S. Moore, who died July 13 at age 91.

Mr. Moore was instrumental in developing the modern home-school movement. Without his early involvement, it’s likely that home-schooling would not be as popular as it is today.

A home-based education or a small community school was the norm in America until the Industrial Revolution. A burgeoning immigrant population, a desire among the people to assimilate the newcomers and the perceived needs of big business gave momentum to the development of institutionalized schools, which became almost totally dominant by the 1950s.

Mr. Moore came on the scene during the 1960s when the few home-schoolers remaining could be found mostly among missionary families.

For home-schooling to return to its previous place in society and begin expanding from its small missionary base, it needed champions like Mr. Moore to challenge the conventional wisdom and re-educate the public about the benefits of a home- and family-based educational system.

During the 1960s, Mr. Moore began this crucial work and helped start the debate about the problems of institutional schooling as he began pulling together educational research that studied the academic development of children.

In 1972, Mr. Moore wrote an article for Harper’s Magazine on the dangers of early schooling. Reader’s Digest distributed it to millions more readers. These types of articles caused people to begin asking questions about the conventional wisdom regarding the benefits of institutional schooling.

In the early 1980s, Mr. Moore reported many research findings that showed early institutional schooling was not necessary for a successful education. His book “Better Late Than Early,” serves as one of the foundational books for the modern home-school movement.

Mr. Moore was also the first voice heard in the major media advocating home-schooling. In 1982, he was interviewed twice by Focus on the Family’s James Dobson. Millions of people were exposed for the first time to the idea that they could teach their children themselves.

These radio conversations exposed many to home-schooling for the first time and laid the foundation for the early explosion of the home-school movement.

During his more than 50 years of active service to the home-school community, Mr. Moore faithfully traveled to many court hearings to testify as an expert witness to the academic statistics and success of home-schooling. He also testified in many state legislatures when bills were introduced to legalize home-schooling. As a passionate advocate for home education, Mr. Moore stuck to his positions.

The Home-School Legal Defense Association is thankful for the life work of Mr. Moore and greatly appreciates his pioneering efforts to rejuvenate home-schooling, which has grown exponentially since the early 1980s as more and more parents discover the truths Mr. Moore expressed more than 50 years ago. Mr. Moore will be missed by the home-school movement, and our condolences go out to his family.

On a personal note, Mr. Moore was responsible for exposing our family to home-schooling in 1982. He had a deep love for children and remained passionate that parents should be their child’s primary teacher.

Michael Smith is the president of the Home School Legal Defense Association. He may be contacted at 540/338-5600; or send e-mail to

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