Lawmakers vote to raise kindergarten age

06.02.2010 | Los Angeles Times

The earliest age at which California children could start kindergarten would go up three months under a measure passed by the state Senate on Wednesday. Youngsters would have to turn 5 by Sept. 1 under the proposal, which would reduce the state’s kindergarten population by 100,000.

The state would save big money by booting all those kids out of kindergarten. But proponents of the legislation say half of the $700 million to be saved would go to helping those same children through expanded public preschool programs. The rest would go toward closing the state deficit.

“Both the research and our classroom teachers are telling us that California kids are starting kindergarten too young,’’ said Sen. Joe Simitian (D-Palo Alto), the author of SB 1381. “The net result is it’s not good for them educationally and it’s not good for the other kids in the classroom who get a little less attention because the teachers are struggling to deal with those young 4-year-olds.’’

The measure, which next goes to the state Assembly, passed on a 28-4 vote after it was opposed by the California Teachers Assn. “The current state preschool program is not accessible to all children and we do not believe it is appropriate to displace students without access to preschool,” the teachers group said in a written protest.

Some parent groups, however, support the age change.

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