If you have any questions regarding parental rights in Connecticut education, contact one of our attorneys at (203) 221-3100.

What is the Parental Rights Movement?

With an enticing slogan, the Parents’ Rights movement operates as a well-financed network of national organizations aiming to enable any parent to receive government funding to send their child to their preferred school. Essentially, this translates to wealthier parents opting for private schools, as the voucher amount typically falls short of covering full tuition costs. This leaves other parents to choose between budget-friendly private schools or increasingly under-resourced public schools. Meanwhile, students with disabilities continue relying on public schools for essential services.

The movement has gained traction by propagating misinformation: linking critical race theory to social emotional learning, suggesting that school-based health centers promote early sexual experimentation or gender questioning among children, and falsely claiming that public schools teach explicit sexual content. These falsehoods effectively put school administrators on the defensive and, over time, undermine the overall quality of public education.

The History of Public Education in Connecticut

Connecticut has a rich history of supporting public education, dating back to its roots in the Connecticut Code of 1650, which established fundamental principles still integral to the state’s educational system. These principles include the state’s responsibility to ensure parents educate their children and the use of public funds, derived from taxes, to support education.

During the mid-1800s, the education reform movement, championed by figures such as Horace Mann, Catharine Beecher, and Henry Barnard, advocated for Common Schools aimed at providing moral instruction and equalizing opportunities for all citizens. The Connecticut Common School Journal, first published in August 1838, stands as America’s oldest education publication, reflecting the state’s early commitment to educational advancement.

From its inception in 1838 to its current role in 2022, the primary goal of Common Schools and contemporary public education remains fostering a cohesive civil society. Public education uniquely unites diverse members of society, offering essential opportunities for individuals to interact and learn from one another. Through attending public schools, students develop crucial skills in navigating differences of opinion, race, ethnicity, beliefs, and sexual orientation.

While Connecticut’s communities often show socioeconomic and demographic divides, the core principles of shared experiences and embracing diversity endure as foundational elements of public education.

What does the Parental Rights Movement do?

The Parents’ Rights movement aims to dismantle this educational framework. Leveraging age-old themes of sex and race, it seeks to segregate students and reassure parents by shielding their children from perceived “threats.” In doing so, it perpetuates societal divisions. Furthermore, the movement undermines educators’ professionalism, asserting that parents are equally qualified to dictate curriculum. It vehemently opposes teachings that highlight the critical role of slavery in American history and is resistant to comprehensive sex education.

Central to their argument is the provocative question posed by their slogan, “Whose Children Are They?” While parents bear custody and responsibility, societal norms impose limits, such as prohibiting the sale of children into slavery. Connecticut law, exemplified in Section 10-184, mandates that parents and caregivers ensure their children receive a broad education in subjects like English grammar and United States history, reinforcing the notion that all children are the community’s concern.

Indeed, Connecticut’s legal framework, spanning 370 years, emphasizes that children belong to society collectively, fostering their development as compassionate, informed citizens. While parents play a crucial role, they do not possess exclusive authority over their children’s education. While parents have rights, society has a duty to secure a civilized future, fulfilled through compulsory public education.

Maya Murphy P.C. has proudly been included in the 2024 Edition of Best Law Firms®, ranked among the top firms in the nation. In addition, Managing Partner Joseph C. Maya has been selected to The Best Lawyers in America® 2024 for his work in Employment Law and Education Law in Connecticut. Recognition in Best Lawyers® is awarded to firms and attorneys who demonstrate excellence in the industry and is widely regarded by both clients and legal professionals as a significant honor.

Our firm in Westport, Connecticut serves clients with legal assistance all over the state, including the towns of Ansonia, Beacon Falls, Bethany, Bethel, Branford, Bridgeport, Brookfield, Cheshire, Danbury, Darien, Derby, East Haven, Easton, Fairfield, Greenwich, Guilford, Hamden, Madison, Meriden, Middlebury, Milford, Monroe, Naugatuck, New Canaan, New Fairfield, New Haven, Newton, North Branford, North Haven, Norwalk, Orange, Oxford, Prospect, Redding, Ridgefield, Seymour, Shelton, Sherman, Southbury, Stamford, Stratford, Trumbull, Wallingford, Waterbury, West Haven, Weston, Westport, Wilton, and Woodbridge. In addition to assisting clients in Connecticut, our firm handles education law matters in New York as well.

If you have any questions or would like to speak to an attorney about a legal matter, please contact Joseph C. Maya and the other experienced attorneys at Maya Murphy, P.C. at (203) 221-3100 or to schedule a free initial consultation today.