New Bill Would Make Kindergarten Mandatory

April 27, 2012 Brooklyn Eagle Staff
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Seven Percent of City Kids Miss Out on Early Ed

By Mary Frost
Brooklyn Daily Eagle

NEW YORK CITY — Surprisingly, not all New York City kids go to kindergarten. About 7 percent — often the most disadvantaged city children — miss this early introduction to school and start instead at first grade.

Citing research that shows that children who go to kindergarten are more likely to graduate from high school and live productive lives, legislators have introduced twin bills to make kindergarten mandatory in the city.

Senate bill S.7015 and Assembly bill A.9861 would require children who are 5 years old on or before December 1 to attend kindergarten.

“Every child deserves a strong and healthy start to their education and that begins with kindergarten,” Council Speaker Christine Quinn, Council Education Chair Robert Jackson and Council Member Stephen T. Levin said in a joint statement Friday. “With the introduction of state legislation, mandatory kindergarten for our city's 5-year-olds will soon be a reality.”

State Senator John J. Flanagan and Assemblywoman Catherine Nolan introduced the measures. The Assembly and Senate have yet to pass the bills.

There are, on average, 7 percent more children who attend first grade than kindergarten at New York City public schools, according to the Flanagan and Nolan. This means that annually, approximately 2,500 city children who did not attend kindergarten enter the first grade.

Districts with the largest number of children missing kindergarten tend to be mostly black and Latino and have over 75 percent of students eligible for free and reduced lunch. Many have high percentages of English language learners.

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