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New bill would require kindergarten before first grade

State lawmakers are once again attempting to make kindergarten mandatory. But this time, they’re allowing more choice for parents about where their kids attend kindergarten.

Assembly Bill 2226, introduced by Al Muratsuchi, D-Torrance, would require all children to attend kindergarten before enrolling in first grade. However, attending private or homeschool kindergarten would count.

Currently, children are not required to enroll in school until they are 6 years old and eligible for first grade. There have been several previous attempts to require children to enroll at 5 years old, when they are eligible for kindergarten, but they have never become law. Then-Gov. Jerry Brown vetoed one bill, saying parents should be able to choose whether to send their children to kindergarten. Gov. Gavin Newsom vetoed a more recent bill, citing costs.

This bill would allow parents to wait to enroll children until they are 6, but if they did not attend kindergarten in any form, they would have to enroll first in kindergarten rather than in first grade.

Enrollment in public kindergarten dropped precipitously during the pandemic and has not fully recovered.

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