Should kindergarten be mandatory in Michigan?

Well some Michigan lawmakers believe it should be.

The Detroit News is reporting about legislation which has been introduced in Michigan which would make kindergarten mandatory in Michigan.  State Representative Bill Sowerby, a Democrat from Clinton Township, is the sponsor of the kindergarten bill.

Representative Sowerby was quoted in the article stating:

These children, many attend three of the five days. They may arrive at class an hour or two late on any given day…These children are not being prepared as well as they could be if we had mandatory kindergarten…I don’t want to see third-graders held back due to their failure to read on the test…Having mandatory kindergarten will better prepare for them for third-grade requirements.

His bill would require children in Michigan who turn the age of 5 before or on Sept.1 must be enrolled in kindergarten for the upcoming school year.

Many people are questioning the need for the bill since an estimated 95% of children in Michigan do attend kindergarten.  The superintendent of the Madison School District in Oakland County, Randy Speck was quoted in the article stating:

Having more kids in kindergarten is great, but having more kids prepared for kindergarten is even greater

Yes it might better prepare them but the question is whether it should be mandatory or not.

According to a 2018 report by the Education Commission of the States there are only 17 states and the District of Columbia that require children to attend kindergarten.

A professor in the School of Education at the University of Michigan Nell Duke, whose work focuses on early literacy development stated:

Optional kindergarten can lead families to think that kindergarten is not important…Even families who enroll their child in kindergarten might think attendance is not important given that kindergarten is not mandatory anyway. A mandate helps send the message to families and schools that the learning opportunities of kindergarten are valuable.

Associate professor of Elementary and Early Childhood Education at Michigan State University, Amy Parks stated:

The research on this says retention does not help in the long run…You get a short-term bump. Some gains stay. And then they start to fall off. And you increase the risk of drop off.

I certainly understand their thoughts and desire but the question once again is whether you should force parents to send their children to kindergarten via the law.

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