Kindergarten age bills sent to governor

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LANSING— Legislation sponsored by Sen. Darwin Booher and Rep. Ray Franz to ensure children are ready for school before they start kindergarten are on the way to the governor’s desk to be signed into law.

“Giving our children the best chance for success starts with ensuring they receive a quality education,” said Booher, R-Evart. “A key to that is making sure our children are prepared to learn before they enter school. By having Michigan join the vast majority of states that have already seen the benefits of starting kids at an older age, we can improve academic success and save tax dollars by reducing the number of students who need to repeat kindergarten.” 

House Bill 4513 and Senate Bill 316 would move up the date by which a child needs to be age five in order to enter kindergarten. That date would move from Dec. 1 to Nov. 1 for the 2013-14 school year, and would move up one month each year until reaching Sept. 1 for the 2015-16 school year.

“This change will put Michigan in line with more than half of the states in the nation with kindergarten age start dates of September 1, compared to 30 years ago when the majority of schools had December or January cutoffs,” said Franz, R-Onekama. “The important goal is to help provide our students the best opportunity for achieving long-term success. Not only have studies shown that school preparedness and maturity levels make a difference, but so has a survey of Michigan’s kindergarten teachers that indicated only 65 percent of children were ready to learn a kindergarten curriculum.”

Former kindergarten teacher Joan Antle of Leelanau County told House and Senate lawmakers about the need to ensure children are ready for school. Antle has 30 years of experience as an educator and said that given the demanding curriculum students must meet, it is time that Michigan children be a least five when they begin their 13-year formal school education.

Under the measures, parents of a child who would be five by Dec. 1 could request that the school district enroll their child even though he or she would not meet the new deadline. The final decision about enrolling the child in these cases would be made by the parent.

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