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New York

August 6, 2008

Senate Bill 3549: Compulsory Attendance Bill—from 4 to over 18

Author:
Senator John D. Sabini

Summary:
A compulsory attendance bill introduced by Senator John D. Sabini, this legislation was carried over into the 2008 legislative session. This compulsory attendance bill would have required a child to attend school from as early as 4 years and 9 months old until 18. If passed, Senate Bill 3549 would have required children to attend school three years longer than they are currently required to.

S.B. 3549 did not pass out of committee

Status:

3/8/2007Bill was referred to Senate Education Committee

HSLDA's Position:
We are opposed to this bill.

Action Requested:
No action is required at this time.

Background:
Senate Bill 3549 would lower the compulsory attendance age to include any child who turns 5 by December 1 of any given school year. If your child is going to be 5 on November 30, 2007 then he would be required to attend school when he was only 4 years and 9 months old!

This bill would also require students to attend school until the last day of the school year in which they turn 18.

Some of the problems with lowering and raising the compulsory attendance age 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.)
  • According to the 2005 NAEP test scores, children from states that have low compulsory attendance ages (5-6) did not score any higher than children from the other states, and in some subjects their average was actually lower.
  • 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.
  • A report published February 6, 2007 by the Goldwater Institute examines Stanford 9 test scores and finds Arizona kindergarten programs initially improve learning but have no measurable impact on reading, math, or language arts test scores by fifth grade.
  • The data show that students in schools with all-day kindergarten programs have statistically significant higher 3rd-grade test scores, but there is no impact on 5th-grade scores. This finding is consistent with previous research. Forcing children into school early delivers short-term benefits at best.
  • Raising the compulsory attendance age will not reduce the dropout rate. In fact, the two states with the highest high school completion rates, Maryland at 94.5% and North Dakota at 94.7%, compel attendance only to age 16. The state with the lowest completion rate (Oregon: 75.4%) compels attendance to age 18. (Figures are three year averages, 1996 through 1998.)
  • Twenty-nine states only require attendance to age 16. Older children unwilling to learn can cause classroom disruptions and even violence, making learning harder for their classmates who truly want to learn.
  • It would restrict parents’ freedom to decide if their 16-year-old is ready for college or the workforce. (Some 16-year-olds who are not academically inclined benefit more from valuable work experience than from being forced to sit in a classroom.
  • 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. When California raised the upper age limit of compulsory attendance, unwilling students were so disruptive that new schools had to be built just to handle them and their behavior problems, all at the expense of the taxpayer.

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 Other Resources

HSLDA Issue Analysis: Mandatory Kindergarten Is Unnecessary

Bill Text

Bill History

March-29-2007—New York—Calls Needed to Defeat Compulsory School Attendance from 4 to 18!