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New bill proposes making kindergarten mandatory

Published: Feb. 24, 2021 at 6:49 PM CST
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MONROE, La. (KNOE) - Louisiana Senator Cleo Fields has proposed a bill to make kindergarten attendance mandatory in the state. Many people in Louisiana don’t realize that kindergarten is not mandatory for Louisiana children.

In Louisiana, mandatory schooling starts at first grade for students, not kindergarten. A new bill starting with the 2022-2023 school year would require children to have had attended a full-day kindergarten for a school year and passed an academic readiness exam to enter the first grade.

State Senator Katrina Jackson believes to grasp what a child has to offer, we need to give them that headstart.

“I believe that every parent should have the opportunity to send their child to kindergarten. You shouldn’t have to rush to register your child or be worried about whether they’re going to be enough spots. Kindergarten is a basic essential for our education system and giving that child the foundation that they need,” Jackson said.

Currently, state law requires school districts to offer kindergarten but attendance is not mandatory.

Sandie Lollie is the President of the Monroe Federation of Teachers and School Employees. She says she fully supports the idea of this bill.

“Kindergarten is a very integral part of education. And I think the earlier you start on it, the better the child will be,” Lollie said.

Lollie says kindergarten helps to develop interpersonal skills, along with literacy skills.

“It gets them to interact in a social setting that is organized and structured by the teacher. Not only can you learn your reds, your blues and your greens, but you can learn how to play with the little child next to you. It’s kind of like a playtime that has guidance and focus,” Lollie said.

Jackson believes it’s essential for children to start receiving education at an earlier age, and the state is pushing for more preschool funding.

“Studies have shown that by a certain age, a person has learned about 50% to 75% of what they are going to learn their entire life. So, it’s more than about our education statistics. It’s also about economic development, job readiness and how we move forward with an educated workforce,” Jackson said.

The bill would mandate kindergarten for children who turn five on or before September 30 of the year when classes begin.

The proposal will be debated during the 2021 regular legislative session which begins April 12.

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