GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Children would have to be 5 years of age by Sept. 1 — rather than Dec. 1 — in the year they begin kindergarten under a bill Michigan lawmakers are considering, according to The Grand Rapids Press.

Supporters of the idea say that it will ensure that children are developmentally ready for kindergarten, while others say that parents and educators, not legislators, are the best people to make that decision, The Press reported. The measure would allow parents to seek a waiver from their school district.

State Rep. Ray Franz, R-Onekama, said studies show that 4-year-olds are not ready for kindergarten, according to The Press, while Rockford Public Schools Superintendent Michael Shibler said that his district already works with parents on kindergarten readiness, including putting students through a screening program.

The Senate Fiscal Agency had estimated that up to 20,000 children would have to wait an extra year before entering kindergarten under the terms of the bill, reducing state aid to schools that year by about $154 million. The Free Press said that Franz has offered to phase in the age requirements.

“It is a very subjective decision,” Shawn Aulbach, a Rockford mother of five children, told The Press.

SOURCE:

The Grand Rapids Press, “Should state determine when children are ready for kindergarten?” Nov. 1, 2011

Senate Fiscal Agency, “Senate Bill 315, Senate Bill 316

FURTHER READING:

MichiganVotes, “House Bill 4514: Require kindergarteners to be 5 on Sept. 1

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