As reported here in October, The New York Board of Regents is considering dropping the age of compulsory school attendance to 5-years-of-age, and making Kindergarten mandatory for children inÂ New York state.
- The Ithaca Journal, Ithaca, New York, 7 January 2006, Regents may lower mandatory starting school age to 5
ALBANY â€” Although most New York children start public school at age 5, their attendance is not required and school districts are not obligated to offer kindergarten.
But that could change with a proposal the state Board of Regents will consider when it meets Monday and Tuesday. People who favor reducing the compulsory starting school age from 6 to 5 and requiring school districts to provide full-day kindergarten, as the Regents are contemplating, say doing so would bring state policy in line with actual practice. But the revisions, which would require approval and extra funding from the Legislature, face opposition on the grounds of higher cost and differences in educational philosophy.
Not only would there be higher costs for the state, but homeschooling families would be required to file New York paperwork one year earlier than they do now.Â And that year could, perhaps, presage future drops in the compulsory attendance age.
- Besides lowering the starting age and mandating full-day kindergarten, the Regents’ proposed policy on early education â€” which would be phased in over three years â€” calls for expanding public pre-kindergarten statewide and making other changes. They are seeking an additional $99 million for pre-kindergarten, which would make it available to about 25,000 more 4-year-olds. About 60,000 of the state’s approximately 220,000 4-year-olds are currently in public pre-kindergarten programs. The Regents will seek legislation to make 3-year-olds eligible by 2008.
The pushing down of the age of compulsory attendance is not limited to New York.Â In 2001 aÂ Washington, D.C. city council memberÂ made a bid for compulsory preschool with his Compulsory School Attendance Amendment Act, as reported by the CATO Institute.Â Â Last November I wrote a letter to theÂ Kansas City StarÂ aboutÂ mandatory preschoolÂ (and the editing of such letters), and in December, I sentÂ a letter on the topic of all-day Kindergarten.Â My letters are nothing special, merely an indication of theÂ nationalÂ sweep on the topic of young-child education:Â New York, Washington, DC, Missouri.Â And don’t forget California’s Preschool for All.Â [update:Â MarylandÂ is considering a change, but on the other age of the limit]
But it isn’t merely disgruntled former homeschoolers who object to the lowering of the compulsory attendance age, or the hurrying post-toddlescent children into school.Â The Alliance for ChildhoodÂ has publishedÂ A Call to Action on the Education of Young Children.Â Among other things,Â the AllianceÂ says:
- We call for a reversal of the pushing down of the curriculum that has transformed kindergarten into de facto first grade.
Other information on early childhood education can be found at Universal Preschool.
And don’t forget that extra year of filing paperwork.