The following summarizes the historical review of the statutes and attempts to answer some often raised questions in order to help all who are interested in becoming more aware of their obligations and their choices under state law and suggested procedures. For more information, see our Statutes page.
[The following information is taken from state statutes and from documents produced through the research of the State Department of Education.]

Ludlowe's Code of 1650 is this state's earliest written codified law.  Expressly stated in that code, is the requirement that parents bring their child up in some lawful employment and instruct them.  In other words, the earliest written policy of the state is that it is the obligation of parents to educate their own children. 

The Connecticut General Statutes further codified that policy in Section 10-184.  The applicable title of 10-184 is, "Duties of Parents."  The first sentence of 10-184 clearly identifies the duties of parents, "Parents shall bring up their child in some lawful employment and instruct them in [the statute lists certain specific subjects]."
That first sentence of 10-184 is what is known as the state's "compulsory education statute."  That is, all children must be educated, but most importantly, it is the duty of parents to educate them.

From 1650 until 1872, this was the only policy of the state regarding education.  For over two hundred years, this basic principle remained unquestioned and unchanged. It was not until the industrial revolution, in a time when parents began to shirk their duty by allowing their children to work in factories instead of educating them, that the state made an addition to its policy.

In 1872, the state amended 10-184 to add the second sentence, which provides that children between certain ages "shall attend" public school "unless they are able to show that the children are elsewhere receiving an equivalent instruction."[emphasis added]   This second sentence of 10-184 is what is known as the state's "compulsory attendance law".  In other words, if the parents are not undertaking their obligation as described in the first sentence of 10-184, then the second sentence of 10-184 applies; wherein parents must send their child to a public school unless they are able to show that the children are elsewhere receiving an equivalent instruction.  Children could receive an equivalent instruction in earlier days by being an apprentice to a master, or, as now, by attending a private school.

After nearly a two year long study by the State Department of Education, the State Board of Education, and a task force consisting of superintendents and homeschoolers, the result was the adoption of a policy acknowledging the right of parents to educate their children at home and the adoption of a set of "Suggested Procedures", not laws, known as the C-14 Guidelines.  It was believed at that time, that while the Guidelines were not a perfect document, they were sufficient to assist those who chose to follow them as one reasonable way of instructing children at home. 

The C-14 Guidelines represented a renewal and an acknowledgement of what had been the state's policy since the inception of the colony, i.e., it is the duty of parents to instruct their own children.    But it also represented a rejection of a short-lived set of "guidelines" issued by the State Education Commissioner, Mark Shedd, in 1982.  The "Shedd Guidelines" essentially replicated many of the requirements that the superintendents recently sought to impose by way of Bill 5535.  That is, the "Shedd Guidelines" suggested that parents be required to have a high school diploma, that superintendents and boards of education approve a homeschooler's curricula and materials, and that homeschooled children undergo assessments.  By adopting the C-14 Guidelines in 1990, the state Board of Education soundly rejected those "Shedd Guidelines' requirements", and renewed the state's long-standing policy of parental authority in education.

Shortly after the C-14 Guidelines were adopted, a few superintendents who remained dissatisfied spurred a legislator into proposing a bill that, again, incorporated many of the requirements listed in the "Shedd Guidelines" seeking to make those requirements statutory law.  That bill was soundly defeated in the Education Committee through the hard work and lobbying of homeschoolers throughout the state.