Supporting Parental Rights in Education

 Gwen, Dolores and Kim
Mom of twin boys, Gwen Adams, Sen.
Dolores Gresham, mom of twin girls,
Kim Biggs. Gwen and Kim have been
excellent, articulate advocates for their
children and the parents of all
multiple siblings.

 

This is what our bill is all about.
Dan and Gwen Adams with their twin sons and daughter.
Kim and Bill Biggs with their twin girls and daughter.

 

Mary Gillenwater and children, Bill Biggs, Gwen Adams and family,
Julie Hamilton and family
were there to see the final VICTORY!!

 

Talking Points for SB 2480-HB 3105

 
Education - As introduced, requires local boards of education to give preference to parent's request in classroom placement of multiple birth siblings.
 
UPDATE: After an extended period of discussion with the TSBA the only agreement that could be reached was on this language: AMENDMENT: In determining the classroom assignments of multiple birth siblings, no school or board of education shall separate such multiple birth siblings into different classrooms solely due to such children being multiple birth siblings.

                       This became Public Chapter 721 

 
          It is disappointing that would could not also get included a positive provision for parental choice, but this is a start and in the future, if more problems surface, we can always come back to the General Assembly for a solution.
 
STATUS: On March 8, SB 2480 Passed the Senate floor 31-0. On April 5, HB3105 passed the State House 96-0.  VICTORY for families of multiple siblings -- thanks to all who supported this important bill.
 
 
 
Overview
 
It is currently the case that there is often an unwritten policy whereby school districts uniformly mandate separation of multiples. 
 
SB 2480 / HB 3105 proposes legislation to allow parents of multiples the primary voice in the classroom placement decisions for their children (either apart or together).
 
Research
 
There is no concrete evidence to support the notion that multiples do better in school if separated.  Indeed, all research tends to point otherwise.
 
The U.S. Department of Education's Educational Research and Improvement Council (ERIC) Digest recommends that "placement decisions should be determined on a case-by-case basis and that a rigid policy should be avoided". Additionally, the ERIC digest states "placement decisions should take into account the views of the parents".
 
Renowned experts in the area of twin research including Dr. Nancy Segal, California State University, Fullerton, Department of Psychology; Dr. John Mascazine, Ohio State University, College of Education; Patricia Malmstrom, Twin Services Consulting; and the International Society of Twins Studies all advocate a flexible placement policy.         
 
Wisconsin Twin Research Newsletter; Vol. XXVI - Research results indicated that twins placed in separate classrooms at five showed more problems with withdrawal, somatic complaints, and anxiousness and/or depression, and had lower reading levels than twins who were never separated and twins who were separated at a later date. Furthermore, follow-ups indicated that a large number of identical twins continued to have these problems in later childhood. 
 
Dr. John Mascazine notes that multiples often exhibit "checking behavior". That's when one sibling takes a moment to check on their sibling(s) to make sure they are safe or nearby. It's something parents do instinctually for their younger children. For most twin and multiple birth children, it is comforting to know the whereabouts of their siblings and to know they are safe. It was disturbing to many twins to be placed in separate classrooms and to rarely be given time to see what their sibling was doing during the day.
 
Support
 
Nationally bills supporting parental preference in the placement of multiples in the classroom have the support of:
-         The National Organization of Mothers of Multiples Clubs (NOMOTC) based in Franklin, TN.
-         Noted national experts in twin research.
-         Twins Magazine, the national publication for families of multiples.
 
Historical background
 
In 2005, Minnesota became the first state in the nation to pass a Twins Legislation bill.
 
During the Minnesota legislative process, the legislators worked with the Minnesota School Board lobbyists to address the concerns of all parties. Examples of issues raised during the process include:
-         School districts’ desire to keep the issue on a local level and avoid a state law: Resistance to a high-level mandate ironically mirrors the same argument being made by the parents, who agree there should be no uniform policy and that the most logical place to make a decision is locally, specifically at the family level and not at a district-wide level. The family is the resource best suited to make an evaluation for the best welfare of the child, as in most contested cases the schools do not make any individual evaluations before imposing the blanket policy. 
 
-         School districts’ assertion that research indicates it’s best for children to be separated: No such research has ever been made available, and this assertion is in fact controverted by numerous studies such as those noted above.
 
-         School districts’ concern over legal implications:           Passage of this legislation will actually alleviate lawsuits, which would otherwise be brought for lack of cooperation in classroom placement. (See Stetson Law Review reference in documentation.)
 
Current National Status
 
-         States that have enacted Twin Laws: Georgia, Florida, Louisiana, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Mississippi, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Texas, Virginia
-         Have resolutions allowing Parental Input: Oklahoma, Illinois
-         Sponsored Twin Bills: Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Illinois, Indiana, Maryland, Michigan, Missouri, New York, South Carolina, Tennessee
 
Summary
 
Multiples are not “one size fits all” – their classroom placement should not be a unilateral policy either.  This one decision could define their initial exposure to education and could be pivotal in influencing their future educational careers.  Every child should be provided with the most positive educational experience possible. Therefore, it is crucial to give preference to parent's request in classroom placement of multiple birth siblings. 

 Nancy L. Segal, Ph.D. Biography