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Mainor, Watson Coleman, Diegnan & Oliver Introduce Legislation to Make Kindergarten Mandatory in New Jersey

Bill Would Also Lower the Age a Child Should Attend School from 6 to 5

(Trenton) – Assembly Democrats Charles Mainor, Bonnie Watson Coleman, Patrick Diegnan, Jr. and Sheila Oliver recently introduced legislation that would change the state compulsory school age to five and make kindergarten mandatory under the law.

Fourteen states statutorily mandate kindergarten: Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, Louisiana, Maryland, Nevada, New Mexico, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia, Ohio, Oklahoma, Rhode Island and South Carolina.

“It is hard to believe that kindergarten is not currently a requirement under state law,” said Mainor (D-Hudson). “However, it is not and it should. Early education helps to set the stage for a student’s future success. State law should support what is currently being done to prepare our children for a career of learning.”

“With this legislation, we underscore the importance of early childhood education,” said Watson Coleman (D-Mercer/Hunterdon). “In this day and age, it’s rare for a child not to attend kindergarten. Current law is simply antiquated and must be adjusted to support early childhood learning.”

The bill lowers the age at which children are required to attend school from six to five years, and conforms related provisions of law that address noncompliance to compulsory school attendance. Under the bill, every school district would be required to establish a kindergarten program.

“Early childhood education is integral part of a child’s learning,’ said Diegnan (D-Middlesex). “We are bound by law to ensure every student every opportunity for educational achievement. This legislation helps us do just that.”

“We understand that the earlier a child is introduced to learning in an educational setting, the better chance they have to achieve academic success,” said Oliver (D-Essex/Passaic). “Helping our children succeed is not optional. It is mandatory. The law should reflect it. Taking steps to ensure every New Jersey student participates in kindergarten are steps in the right direction.”

Eight states require children at the age of five to attend school: Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, Oklahoma, New Mexico, South Carolina and Virginia. Although, more states have mandatory kindergarten, some states allow parents to defer their child’s entrance into school if preferred.