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State Assembly bill woulld make kindergarten mandatory

Kindergarten not required in California, Assemblywoman points out

The California State Assembly has passed a bill that would make kindergarten attendance mandatory before first grade.

The assembly floor passed AB 1444.

The bill was authored by Assemblywoman Shirley Weber (D-San Diego) and Assemblywoman Joan Buchanan (D-Alamo), whose district includes Pleasanton.

Most children currently attend kindergarten but it is an option according to state law.

"The new Common Core State Standards have academic expectations for kindergarten students," Buchanan said. "If children do not attend kindergarten, they begin first grade behind and many finish high school behind."

The bill will not change the age of required attendance which allows parents to continue to determine whether their child is developmentally ready to begin school.

"This bill ensures that parents would have the ability to give their children the gift of time, if they are not ready to begin kindergarten at age five," Buchanan added.

Weber reinforced the importance of children attending kindergarten in the state's overall plan for childhood education.

"We are building a lot of the state's educational policy -- preschool, pre-K, transitional kindergarten -- around the assumption that California's children will attend kindergarten," Weber explained. "But many Californians will be surprised to find out kindergarten is actually not mandatory in the state. We are making a significant investment in the state's K-12 system; it's time we made kindergarten mandatory to ensure that our investment in student success is maximized."

The bill, AB 1444, will now move on to the State Senate.

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