Making Kindergarten Mandatory? No.

Last year we noted that Sen. Jean Schodorf, suggested making kindergarten mandatory. We didn’t think that such an obvious attack on parental choice and discretion would go anywhere. Obviously we were wrong, as the headline in the February 29 edition of the Wichita Eagle makes clear: Senate OKs mandatory Kindergarten Attendance.

A bill requiring Kansas public-school students to attend kindergarten was approved 36-3 Thursday by the Kansas Senate, while an amendment to phase in money for all-day kindergarten failed in the House.Current state law does not mandate kindergarten attendance.

Sen. Schodorf says that this rule doesn’t apply to private schools (isn’t that obvious?), and adds that parents can petition the schools for an exemption. But the senator has it backwards: the decision should be opt-in, not opt out.

In addition (nearly by necessity), the bill would also lower the mandatory school-entering age from 7 to 6.

So far money is one factor:

Money is the same reason several lawmakers cited for voting against a House amendment that would have phased in payments for all-day kindergarten over five years starting in the 2009-10 school year.Initially, the program would cost $15 million. That would build to $75 million, which would become a permanent part of the education budget, said Rep. Ed Trimmer, R-Winfield. Trimmer proposed the amendment to House Bill 2734 that would change how consolidated school districts are funded.

But there ought to be a more fundamental point: Given that the problems with education appear in middle school and high school, the state should not be bringing ever-younger children into the existing school system.

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  • Donna Szymkowski  On January 27, 2009 at 9:12 pm

    I have been teaching K for 32 years and have always taught 1/2 day. My district also has full day. Interesting…our half day test scores and behavior of the children far exceed the full day programs. Who is full day benefiting? The working parents!
    Full day is necessary only in areas where children are not going to be stimulated by their parents at home. Little 5 and 6 year olds need to explore the world in which they live not be stuck in a school

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