Calif. Senator wants to move up cut-off date for kindergarten

04.19.2010 | California Capitol Network | Marianne Russ

California — One state senator wants to move up the cut-off date for kids entering kindergarten. This isn’t the first time such a change has been proposed. In the past, opponents have argued that parents should have the flexibility to decide what’s best for their kids.

Under current law, kids starting kindergarten have to be 5 years old by December 2 of that school year. Democrat Joe Simitian says that makes California’s cut-off date one of the latest in the nation.

“The key question here is, when is the right age to start kindergarten?” Simitian says the answer is five years old for most children. And he says moving the cut-off date to September 1st would make sure kids younger than that will no longer be admitted. He says kids would be better prepared, and the reduced student count could save the state $700 million a year and some of that would go toward the kids who don’t make the cut-off.

“We’re talking about putting $350 million, half of the savings that the measure would achieve, behind the state preschool program. That means that if a family wants to have their youngster in a state preschool program, who is no longer eligible for kindergarten—we have the funds to do that.”

Simitian says parents can ask districts to make an exception for their 4-year-old. The change would be phased in over three years, starting in December 2012.

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