Passed along on an email list from New York Home Educators’ Network:
Greetings, home educators –
The New York State Board of Regents has issued a draft policy on early childhood education and is nearing the *end* of a public comment period on the draft. According to the proposal, the public comment period ends on October 31. See the links later in this message for details.
The Regents’ draft policy includes these recommendations that directly affect home educators:
- The start of compulsory attendance should be lowered from 6 to 5. – Full-day kindergarten should be mandatory.
If these changes were to be made, we would be subject to state oversight a year earlier, and we would probably be subject to more strict requirements when reporting a child as a kindergartner.
Note that the Regents cannot make these changes by themselves. The state legislature would have to enact bills to lower the compulsory age to 5 and require full-day K. But a formal policy statement by the Regents would presumably give some new momentum to these ideas, which so far have not gained steam.
Thus, you might want to use the links below to study the draft and then submit your comments about those recommendations.
The draft also includes these points, which might not affect us directly in our role as home educators right now, but might lead in that direction:
- Universal pre-K: All districts should make pre-K available for all 3- and 4-year-olds.
- More standardization and assessment in the early grades.
- More data collection on 3- and 4-year-olds.
To read the draft, go to:
Some important excerpts are included below.
To submit comments, go to:
You might also consider sending your comments in the form of a letter to the Regent for your area of the state and to the at-large Regents. A list of the Regents, their addresses, and the areas they represent is at:
Again, the deadline for comments appears to be October 31.
Here are some important excerpts from the draft, along with some annotations and additional information.
The draft’s point about compulsory age says:
Component 3 – Compulsory Age to Five The majority of young children now attend educational programs in formal settings well before they reach age five. However, in some communities public school programs for children are not available for five-year-olds and parents may have limited options for high quality programs. This is particularly true in rural and low-income communities. The current standards-based environment requires students to receive more explicit instruction, beginning in the early years. Attendance is equally important. Research is clear that attendance is critical for skill acquisition. Lowering the compulsory age to five would both obligate districts to provide instruction and parents to ensure that children regularly attend.
This point attempts to use compulsory attendance to address two separate issues:
- Requiring all districts to make kindergarten *available*.
- Requiring 5-year-olds to attend.
Also, this point does not mention the variation from child to child regarding readiness for or appropriateness of a standardized classroom environment.
The draft’s point about mandatory full-day K says:
Component 4 – Full-Day Kindergarten Research findings indicate that children in full-day kindergarten programs, on average, make greater gains in reading and math achievement scores than their peers who attend half-day programs or who are not enrolled in kindergarten. Full-day kindergarten provides more one-to-one instruction, less large group learning and greater time on learning activities than half-day programs. Kindergarten remains a non-mandated program in New York State, although the majority of public school districts and most nonpublic schools provide half-day or full-day programs. In conjunction with lowering the compulsory school age to five, New York State needs to ensure that children are enrolled in full-day kindergarten programs in all school districts to strengthen educational beginnings.
This point takes ideas directly from one of the articles cited at the end of the Regents’ draft statement. The article is about a study by a Purdue University professor, and is available at this link:
One idea from this article that the Regents’ draft does not mention is that mandatory full-day kindergarten is explictly *not* recommended:
"Despite the apparent benefits of full-day kindergarten programs, Elicker says that if he were a school administrator, he probably still would give parents the option of a half-day. ‘Some parents still felt that they wanted to ease their children into the school environment and that a half-day kindergarten was best for that. Others point out that learning experiences can also happen in the home, outside of school.’ he says." [See above link]
The draft’s point about universal pre-K says:
Component 2 – Statewide Prekindergarten A statewide prekindergarten program, for three- and four-year-olds, must be available in all school districts. New York State has effective prekindergarten programs; however, programs are not available in all school districts and for all students within some districts. Implementation of the Universal Prekindergarten program over the past six years has demonstrated the importance of school district and community-based collaborations. The New York State Universal Prekindergarten initiative has been successful because it improved coordination of services and required high standards in all settings. Increased attention to program quality, focused instruction and stable funding must occur to expand upon initial implementation successes. ——–
Another article cited at the end of the Regents’ draft statement paints a more dubious picture. It’s a research report on pre-K programs in various states, including New York, and is available at this link:
If you’d like to discuss what kinds of comments you’d like to make about this proposal, feel free to join our NY-alert email list by sending a blank message to:
But again, remember that the deadline for comments appears to be