Mandatory kindergarten bill advances to Senate floor

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Pre-kindergarten students listen as their teacher reads a story at Dawes Elementary in Chicago, Monday, Jan. 11, 2021. Chicago Public Schools students began their return to the classroom Monday as school doors opened to thousands of pre-kindergarten and some special education students after going remote last March due to the coronavirus pandemic. (Ashlee Rezin Garcia/Chicago Sun-Times via AP, Pool)

BATON ROUGE (BRPROUD) – A bill that would make kindergarten mandatory for all Louisiana students has advanced past the first hurdle. Senator Cleo Field’s bill was amended to include that homeschool kindergarten would count towards the requirement.

Those opposing the bill said their kids may not be ready for kindergarten at age five. They would want to hold them back to mature more. Senator Katrina Jackson, a former educator,  pushed back stating if a child is not mature or educationally ready for kindergarten at age five, they should be in school and receive extra help. Senator Fields presented research that shows early childhood education is crucial.

“A brain is developed the most between ages birth and five years of age. This will basically give us an opportunity to take advantage of that,” Sen. Fields said.

It is estimated over 2,000 kids in the state have opted out of kindergarten even though it is required all school districts provide the course. Senator fields said he wants kids to stay on track and not fall behind in their education at such a young age.

Louisiana is ranked 49th in the country for education quality. Some of the speakers brought up the other states ranked on the lower end of the spectrum have mandatory kindergarten. Their argument revolves around allowing parents to have more of a choice of when their kids begin school.

The bill passed 5-1 and now moves on to the Senate floor further debate.

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