The Assembly last week passed a bill that would make kindergarten attendance mandatory for students before they can take first grade.
The lead co-authors of the legislation were Assemblywomen Shirley Weber (D-San Diego) and Joan Buchanan (D-Alamo), whose district includes San Ramon and Danville.
Most children currently attend kindergarten, but it is an option under state law.
"The new Common Core State Standards have academic expectations for kindergarten students. If children do not attend kindergarten, they begin first grade behind and many finish high school behind," Buchanan said.
Assembly Bill 1444, passed May 28, would not change the age of required attendance, which would allow parents to continue to determine whether their child is developmentally ready to begin school.
"This bill ensures that parents would have the ability to give their children the gift of time, if they are not ready to begin kindergarten at age five," Buchanan added.
Weber reinforced the importance of children attending kindergarten in the state's overall plan for childhood education.
"We are building a lot of the state's educational policy -- preschool, pre-K, transitional kindergarten -- around the assumption that California's children will attend kindergarten. But many Californians will be surprised to find out kindergarten is actually not mandatory in the state," she said. "We are making a significant investment in the state's K-12 system; it's time we made kindergarten mandatory to ensure that our investment in student success is maximized."
San Ramon Valley Education Association president and kindergarten teacher Ann Katzburg agreed, stating, "Kindergarten launches our students' educational journey. This pivotal experience is essential for setting the foundation for our students. Mandating kindergarten seems like common sense. It's time."
AB 1444 now moves to the California State Senate.