Bill would restrict kindergarten enrollment


A bill introduced in the state Legislature today by state Sen. Joe Simitian, D-Palo Alto, would restrict kindergarten enrollment to children who are 5 before Sept. 1, three months earlier than the current Dec. 2 cut-off date.

Research shows that 4-1/2-year-olds in class with 5-year-olds are at a disadvantage that can stay with them, Mr. Simitian said in a statement.

About a quarter of California children start kindergarten before they're 5, and most states have earlier cut-off dates, Mr. Simitian said.

The change has the "outspoken" support of educators in San Mateo, Santa Clara and Santa Cruz counties, Mr. Simitian said.

Also supporting the bill: the Legislative Analyst's Office, the California Performance Review, and the Governor's Committee on Education Excellence, he said.

"Almost every child who comes to me for reading support has a fall birthday," said Palo Alto reading specialist Natalie Bivas, who was quoted in the statement. "They don't catch up somehow down the line. Instead, they end up on everyone's radar. By third grade, teachers start asking me why we didn't hold these children back. By then, we're discussing a special education intervention."

SB 1381, which would be phased in over three years starting in 2012, would save the state about $700 million annually and $9.1 billion over 13 years, Mr. Simitian said.

About half the money would go to "quality preschool programs" for the affected children and the rest toward reducing the state's budget deficit, Mr. Simitian said.

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Posted by Another Angle
a resident of Menlo Park: Felton Gables
on Apr 14, 2010 at 12:26 pm

This idea has merit as noted in the article

However, it is worth mentioning that pushing the cut off date back three months will bring a 25% smaller class into kindergarten in its first year. This will lesson the need for K teachers in the first year, and the succession of teachers in subsequent years as these kids get older. If you figure that each class in a K-8 school is of equal size, this should lesson the school budget by nearly 3% annually for nine years.

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Posted by Leave us alone
a resident of Portola Valley: other
on Apr 14, 2010 at 3:58 pm

Mr. Simitian needs to focus on balancing the state budget by matching tax reciepts to expenditures and not by gimmicks and delays. I have two children who would have been held back by this proposal, and both are doing fine in school and testing well. This decision should be the parents, not Sacramento politicians. I am sure that my children would score higher in some test if we held them back another year, perhaps even higher if we held them back two years or three years. Perhaps they would also become bored and disruptive in class if the subject matter being taught was not challanging enough for them. When they drop out of school at 16 as bored high school freshmen, society will really benefit. The quote from the Palo Alto reading specialist is really misleading. My wife and I both would have been held back, and both of us recieved advanced degrees from local universities. Two of my immediate family members would also be held back by this law and one has an MD and the other a PhD. All four of us go to work every day and pay plenty of taxes. Is the third grade reading specialist still waiting for all of us to "catch up" and contribute to society?

We have over 10% unemployment in California. Our tax reciepts are down. We have NOT layed off 10% of our state workers since the peak in 2005. We have not cut our overall state budget by the same percentage as our loss in revenue. Why are we discussing changing laws that have been in effect for 50 years? This law did not cause this crisis. Cut the expenses (programs, staff, pensions) added since the 2000-2001 tax boom. They are the ones that are killing our budget.

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Posted by whatdoesthissolve
a resident of another community
on Apr 14, 2010 at 4:09 pm

All this does is push the reading support to late summer births. Give me a break! The teachers will start discussing why didn't we hold back the June-August birthday kids in third grade. You are just moving the problem, not solving it.

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Posted by Leslie
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Apr 14, 2010 at 5:04 pm

I would need to see much more data before I could support this idea. Anecdotally I have no evidence to support what is being proposed. In fact my experience personally and with my children is just the opposite.

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Posted by Observer
a resident of Woodside High School
on Apr 14, 2010 at 5:14 pm

children should enter kindergarten when ready, not when Sac'to legislators need to balance budgets.

A striking vote in favor of local control.

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Posted by Debbie
a resident of Menlo Park: University Heights
on Apr 14, 2010 at 11:45 pm

Most states have an earlier Kindergrten cut off date. As academic expectations increase for primary grades, emotional maturity becomes more vital for success.

Here is data from the other states to compare:

Web Link

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Posted by Interested
a resident of another community
on Apr 15, 2010 at 2:55 pm

What does this solve......In answer to your question it gives Smilin Joe something to do since he is an abject failure at the job he was elected to do.

His title should be changed from State Senator to State Nanny....

Like this comment
Posted by Lisa L.
a resident of Menlo Park: Stanford Hills
on Apr 20, 2010 at 7:14 am

As a former high school teacher who taught ninth graders for 20 years, I can tell you that most students with fall birthdays do not do well in high school. You can almost pinpoint the students (especially boys) who have fall birthdays and who were 13 the day they entered high school because of their immaturity and lack of focus - most kids can survive being the youngest in elementary and struggle through middle school, but being young really catches up with them during high school. I cannot understand why parents would push a four year old into school when they are not ready, even if they are precocious and have reading skills. That one-on-one attention that parents are able to give these four year olds will not continue throughout school and eventually, it's the child that pays the price. Would you rather have a struggler or a star? Unfortunately, the negative results of parents wanting their kids in school at the earliest possible moment are not seen until it's way too late.

Like this comment
Posted by scorpio
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Apr 20, 2010 at 11:09 am

The real problem here is not the cutoff date; it's that the curriculum keeps getting pushed down into lower grades. Kindergarten used to be play-oriented; now, some local school districts insist that kindergartners be reading by the beginning of the second semester. First year algebra, which everyone took in the 9th grade back in my time, is now being taught to many 7th graders.

In many parts of the world, kids start public education earlier than they do in this country. Of course, in California we can't even pay for the public schools we have, but in an ideal situation, free schools should be available for all kids age 3 and up. The issue is not the age; it's providing an age-appropriate environment with developmental oriented instruction.

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