How Can I Keep My Twins Together In School?

State laws vary in how much control a parent has

Twin sisters assembling electronics in science center workshop
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Parents of twins will eventually be faced with the same quandary that every parent with a multiple birth has, namely whether a school will allow their twins to attend class together. It is an emotionally charged issue that can often divide parents and teachers alike.

Pros and Cons of Schooling Together

On the one hand, parents understand the unique bond that many twins have and are eager to avoid the trauma of separation, particularly in the early school years. They argue that schooling the twins together allows them to experience the same teacher and teaching style without one having a "better" or "more fun" experience than the other.

Others, meanwhile, contend that separating twins allows them to develop their own interests and avoid the comparison of who may be doing "better" or "worse" than the other. Moreover, some educators assert that the children will be more able to draw their own conclusions rather than make a "group" decision.

Parents Press for Changes in State Law

In recent years, parents of twins or multiples have begun to seek greater control in deciding what's best for their kids rather than allowing the school to do this for them. To this end, advocates have begun to press for changes in state laws to provide parents with some degree of control over classroom placement.

The first state to enact such protections was Minnesota with the passage of Statute 102A.38 of the State Education Code. The statute, signed into law in 2005 by then-Governor Tim Pawlenty, afforded parents the right to request that their twins be placed in the same or separate classroom if they are in the same grade. While the school board still has the final call (based on input from the school principal), the intent of the law was to allow such placement unless it was deemed disruptive to the school.

In response to the Minnesota legislation, advocates like Kathy Dolans of Queens, New York began to push for similar laws in their own states.

Dolans, a mother of twins, encountered denial of her own requests in 2004 when she was informed that the separation of her then-five-year-old boys was "kindergarten policy." With support from her pediatrician and evidence from twins researcher Nancy Segal, Dolans was finally able to win approval, only to face resistance a year later when her boys were enrolled in first grade.

In response, Dolans launched a national campaign calling for federal protection of parental rights with the support of the non-profit National Organization of Mothers of Twins Clubs and International Society for Twin Studies. A twins bill is currently awaiting review by the New York State legislature.

Similar actions had been taken by twins Wendy Wortham and Cindy Daniels who pressed for similar legislation in Texas, leading to the passage of House Bill 314 in 2007.

States With Twins Laws

Currently, 14 states have twin laws on the books, while no less than 11 others have legislation pending or sponsored bills awaiting review. The list of states with enacted laws are:

  • Florida
  • Georgia
  • Illinois (parental input only)
  • Louisiana
  • Massachusetts
  • Mississippi
  • Minnesota
  • New Hampshire
  • New Jersey
  • Oklahoma (parental input only)
  • Pennsylvania
  • Tennessee
  • Texas
  • Virginia
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