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August 6, 2008

Assembly Bill 8688: Lowers the Compulsory Attendance Age

Author:
Assemblywoman Catherine Nolan

Summary:
Another compulsory education bill introduced by Assemblywomen Catherine Nolan, this legislation was carried over to the 2008 legislative session. This compulsory attendance bill would have lowered the compulsory age from 6 to 5 and required a full day of kindergarten. If passed, Assembly Bill 8688 would have required children to attend school a full year earlier than they are currently required to.

A.B. 8688 did not pass out of committee and is therefore dead.

Status:

5/24/2007Introduced and referred to Committee on Assembly Education

HSLDA's Position:
Opposed.

Action Requested:
No Action is required at this time.

Background:
This is another bill that has come out of the commitment that the Board of Regents has made to push early education. If you remember from emails we sent out last legislative session the Board of Regents updated their policy statement entitled “Early Education for Student Achievement in a Global Community” in late 2005.

Even after hearing from several hundred concerned parents during the revision of that policy statement, the Board of Regents continues to press on towards their goal of lowering the compulsory attendance age to 5, and making school programs available for 4-year-olds.

Some of the problems with lowering the compulsory attendance are listed below.

  • Lowering the compulsory attendance age from 6 to 5 would subject New York home educators to the requirements of the homeschool laws one year earlier. Homeschool parents would be required to submit a notice of intent, IHIP, and quarterly reports for their 5-year-old. (You do not need to share this reason with your legislators.)
  • Many education experts have concluded that beginning a child’s formal education too early may actually result in burnout and poor scholastic performance later.
  • Lowering the compulsory attendance age erodes the authority of parents who are in the best position to determine when their child’s formal education should begin.
  • It would restrict parents’ freedom to decide if their children are ready for school. While this bill has an “exception” provision for students who are enrolled in non-public or homeschools, it would still require all 5-year-olds to be enrolled in a homeschool program. As a result, a parent would now be required to file the IHIP, quarterly reports and achievement tests when their child reached 5 years of age. Consequently this would require homeschool parents to file for their children a year earlier that they do now! This would not be genuine exception.
  • Another significant impact of expanding the compulsory attendance age would be an inevitable tax increase to pay for more classroom space and teachers to accommodate the additional students compelled to attend public schools.

For more information on compulsory attendance, please see our memorandum, “Mandatory Kindergarten Is Unnecessary.”

 Other Resources

Bill Text

Bill History