March 23, 2007

Senate Bill 541: Lowers Compulsory Attendance

Sen. Kwame Raoul

Senator Kwame Raoul is back. He is attempting, once again, to pass a bill to lower the compulsory attendance age from 7 to 5 years old and to require all school districts to establish kindergartens for children who are 5 years old. This bill, S.B. 541, is a step towards Senator Raoul’s continuing goal to lower the compulsory attendance age to 3. Senator Raoul expressed this aim in the committee hearing last year.

Last year, Senator Raoul introduced S.B. 409, which was opposed tirelessly by hundreds of homeschoolers. The homeschoolers were so tenacious in their continued calls in opposing the bill, that even though Raoul thought he had the votes, he was never able to pass it out of the House Educational Committee. Even though the passed the Senate, it never got to the floor of the House after numerous delays due to the constant barrage of phone calls.

Your phone calls and constant pressure made a difference last year. You won the uphill battle; even though the compulsory attendance age bill was targeted for passage and should have been passed considering the make up of the legislature.

S.B. 541 will lower the compulsory attendance age to 5 from the current age of 7. It will also require that every school district establish a kindergarten program. Lastly, this bill will require school attendance of any child under age 5 or over age 17 who is enrolled in school.

We are working closely with Ralph Garcia and the Christian Home Educators Coalition to oppose this bill.

2/8/2007(Senate) Filed with Secretary by Sen. Kwame Raoul
2/8/2007(Senate) First Reading
2/8/2007(Senate) Referred to Rules Committee
2/8/2007(Senate) Referred to Education Committee
3/7/2007(Senate) Committee Hearing, held in committee

HSLDA's Position:
HSLDA is opposed to this bill.

Action Requested:
None requested at this time.


  • 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.
  • 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 age 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.

For more information on compulsory attendance, please see our Issues Library page on compulsory attendance age legislation.

 Other Resources

Bill Text

Bill History

March-6-2007—Illinois—Calls Needed to Stop Expansion of State Control Over Children