Simitian introduces Kindergarten readiness bill

Senator Joe Simitian (D-Palo Alto) has introduced a bill that would move back the state’s cutoff for Kindergarten readiness — a move recommended by policy experts.  Currently, students must turn five by December 2nd of the year they enter Kindergarten;  Simitian’s bill would move that date back to Sept. 1.  The change would be phased in over three years starting in 2012.

“Today´s kindergarten classroom is a much different place than most of us experienced,” said Simitian. “We´re placing real academic demands on our kids, and the youngest are struggling to keep up. The evidence shows that giving these younger kindergarteners an extra year can make a big difference in their long term success.”

In addition to benefiting children, Simitian´s bill would also save the State an estimated $700 million dollars in annual education spending due to the reduced student population. The cumulative savings over 13 years would reach $9.1 billion.


3 responses to “Simitian introduces Kindergarten readiness bill

  1. As a mom of a September baby, I have mixed feelings. With the trend of holding kids back, sometimes there is as much an 18 month difference in one grade, which is too much. Also, the kindergarten curriculum is looking more and more like the 1st curriculum 20 years ago.

    However, on the flip side, that means kids who don’t have the means to go to preschool will be even that much more behind and another year home with grandma watching TV is another year “wasted.” So I guess if we’re going to push kindergarten cutoff to September 1st, then let’s make sure there is such thing as universal pre-K. Essentially, we’re moving from 13 years of schooling (k-12) to 14 (pre-K to 12).

  2. When we were in Sacramento this week testifying on behalf of Funding Our Future (related to state-wide educational funding reform), we also spoke with some key staffers on related educational issues and Simitian’s bill came up. California is one of only 4 states that has a kindergarten entrance date past Sept. 1st. At issue is loss of school revenue for that first year (fewer kids in kindergarten means fewer dollars to the school) — and how that class travels though the system for the following 12 years (and some continued loss of revenue throughout their time in school). There were discussions about phasing in and supplimenting lost revenue. On the other side of the issue are “savings” that we might see related to the bigger budget story.

    Some of the assumption is that children who miss the cut off will actually participate in high quality preschool programs so they are “ready” for kindergarten — however the reality is many will not. In LA they are piloting a “Junior K” program for children that would miss the cut off, giving priority to children that would otherwise not receive a real year of pre-K (guess what — it mitigates any savings and actually costs more money — however in the long run, it may make class composition stronger and the ability to teach “easier”.) This is yet another issue that can be seen from many sides. Rachel, thanks for bring it up.

  3. We spoke with Simitian’s Chief of Staff yesterday when we were in Sacramento and they mentioned this bill. It seems like a fantastic bill – and all but 4 states have changed their cut off from December to earlier – Sept, Oct, etc. However because this would translate to less money in the first year – and we are in a fiscal crisis, the majority of the legislature is worried that this isn’t the time to pass this bill. It is very short-sighted because this would be a great idea for California, especially if coupled with increased funding for early childhood education!