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Tennessee state senate passes bill governing placement of multiples in school

State seal of Tennessee
State seal of Tennessee
via Tennessee state website

Your child's first day of school is a big deal for any parent (not to mention the child). When your children are multiples it takes on a whole new level of stress. The question at hand....... Do you separate your multiples, or keep them together?

There isn't currently a centralized, binding policy on the state or federal level so the question is left to local school districts or in many cases individual school principals. Parental horror stories of distant administrators enforcing a one size fits all policy abound, and most end with children suffering the consequences.

Both sides of the debate have their good points and their bad. A lot of educators who aren't especially familiar with multiples subscribe to the separation idea because they think the separation encourages multiples to develop separate interests and separate lives. Developing separate lives is an important part of healthy emotional growth in multiples, but many say that kindergarten may not be the best time for it. For many children kindergarten is the first time they're really leaving their home and their parents so it may not be a good time to also separate them from the sibling(s) they've spent nearly all their waking moments with. Their is evidence to support the idea that multiples can be harmed in the long term by separating them before they are emotionally ready.

In recent years their has been a movement to shift away from a system wide policy to a case by case basis. Proponents of this idea encourage educators to let the decision be made by the people that know the individual children the best. Their parents. The guiding tenant is that the parents know their children best and, in consultation with school officials, will best be able to balance all the competing factors for each child. Other than the children themselves, the parents are the ones who will most be affected by the decision so they should have a major say in when the multiples are sent to separate classes.

This is where the Tennessee legislature steps into the story. Senator Dolores Gresham (R, Sommerville), and Representative Beth Harwell (R, south Nashville) have introduced SB 2480/HB 3105 which states:

In determining the classroom assignments of multiple birth siblings, the board of education shall give preference to a request of the parent as to the placement of such children.

As of this writing, this bill has passed the Senate by a unanimous vote and is awaiting action by the House Education Committee before a full House vote. If you have multiples in your life please take the time to contact your legislator and let them know how you feel about this bill. You can find contact info for your local legislator here.

If you're an adult multiple who has an opinion on this issue please comment below or contact the author directly at wpeck89 AT comcast DOT net.


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