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Bill May Delay Calif. Kindergarten Entry Age

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ABC: In an effort to save the cash-strapped state money, the California Senate approved a bill delaying the state's kindergarten enrollment age.


Under the bill that passed 21-15 on Tuesday, children will have had to turn 5 years old by Sept. 1 in order to begin kindergarten for that school year. The current cutoff date is Dec. 2.

According to the state Department of Education, about 100,000 of the state's 430,000 kids start kindergarten before their 5th birthday.

Three-year-old Morgan Johnson could be forced to start kindergarten later if Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signs SB 1381 into law.

"She's an October birthday, so I was hoping that she would go in at 4 so she would be on the same age level as her classmates, not a year older," said parent Nicole Harris Johnson about her daughter Morgan.

"As a parent that really wants the best education and challenges for my son, the earlier that they can go to school, the better in my case and not later," said another parent, Michael Abare.

The move could save the state approximately $700 million a year.

The Los Angeles Unified School District calls it a win-win situation.

"In this bill as it now stands, it will be the same funding for the traditional kindergarten program, so this will have no negative financial impact on the district but would simply allow us to provide us more appropriate services for the right age group," said Whitcomb Hayslip with LAUSD.

Currently, California is one of only four states in the nation with an enrollment date later than Dec. 1. The other states are Connecticut, Michigan and Vermont.

Some advocates say that younger children would do better to spend an extra year in preschool. Opponents say that kids need more in-school education and not less.

"I understand the state wanting to save money, but I'm sure if we wanted to, we can find other means to get him to go to school before the state would allow us to, so to speak," said Kirk Woller, a parent.

The new law would not take effect immediately. Senate Bill 1381 would be phased in over three years starting in the 2012-13 school year.

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5 comments so far | Post a comment now
Jennifer September 2, 2010, 9:43 AM

Big deal. Here the cutoff date is August 1st. Kindergarten isn’t what it used to be, and a lot of places have all day kindergarten now. Here in Ohio, schools are required to at least offer fullday kindergarten by Fall of 2011.

MP September 2, 2010, 2:18 PM

CA sucks. My kid will turn 5 in January so she will be 4 months shy of 6 once in kindergarten which means she will graduate HS older. We need a new governor…now.

Cheryl September 2, 2010, 3:13 PM

In my experience, children who start Kindergarten “older” usually do better throughout their school-years….mine were “younger” and struggled terribly. It really isn’t a bad thing them starting when they’re older….just not “the-thing” to do to save money.

Paula September 2, 2010, 3:41 PM

In our area, the cutoff date is Sept 1st. But, in most cases even the parents of kids born in August hold their kids out another year anyway. So here this wouldn’t really have made a difference. My son is an August birthday and started at 5. Everyone in his class with August birthdays is a year older than him.

Ellen September 3, 2010, 6:45 AM

As a kindergarten teacher for 17 years, it is my opinion that most 4 year olds are not ready for the rigors of the academic program we have now in kindergarten. Why rush it? Let them be kids. The stress on these little ones not developmently ready is sad, crying, chewing shirts,fighting. If you believe your 4 year old is mature enough there is a way to bypass the law. Relax. Give your child the gift of time.

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