June 22, 2007

House Bill 534: Funding Prekindergarten

House Education Committee

House Bill 534 creates a state-funded prekindergarten system for 3-, 4-, and 5-year-olds.

3/29/2007(House) Prefiled
3/29/2007(House) First Reading
3/30/2007(House) Assigned to Appropriations Committee
4/2/2007(House) Appropriations Report Favor
4/2/2007(House) Appropriations Action Agreed To
4/3/2007(House) Amendment—Branagan, Carolyn Whitney, Action: Disagreed To
4/3/2007(House) Second Reading
4/4/2007(House) Amendment—Howrigan, Richard J., Action: Disagreed To
4/4/2007(House) Amendment—Branagan, Carolyn Whitney, Action: Disagreed To
4/4/2007(House) Third Reading—Passed
4/4/2007(House) Passed House; In Senate
4/6/2007(Senate) Assigned to Education Committee
4/6/2007(Senate) First Reading
4/6/2007(Senate) In Education Committee
4/17/2007(Senate) Committee meetings, Room 28
4/18/2007(Senate) Committee meetings, Room 28
4/26/2007(Senate) Education Report: Favorable with recommendation of proposal of amendment
4/26/2007(Senate) Education Action Agreed To
4/26/2007(Senate) Assigned to Appropriations Committee
5/2/2007(Senate) Appropriations Report: Without recommendation
5/2/2007(Senate) Appropriations Action None
5/2/2007(Senate) Amendment—Coppenrath/Illuzzi, Action: Disagreed To
5/2/2007(Senate) Second Reading
5/2/2007(Senate) Third Reading—Passed
5/3/2007(House) Assigned to House
5/10/2007(House) House and Senate Agreement
5/29/2007Sent to Governor
6/01/2007Signed by Governor

HSLDA's Position:

This bill, if passed, could provide the groundwork for passage of mandatory prekindergarten legislation, which would, in effect, lower the compulsory age of attendance. It would also create an incentive for school districts to conduct intrusive census activities to determine the number and academic abilities of prekindergarten-aged children in each district. Proponents of the bill believe that these government-funded programs benefit children by providing them with the option of beginning their education earlier than the compulsory attendance law requires. However, studies show that these types of programs are more costly and less beneficial than the bill’s supporters would have you believe. There are several reasons to oppose lowering the compulsory attendance age, including:

  1. The possibility of burnout and poor scholastic performance later in life due to a child beginning his or her formal education too early (something many education experts verify);
  2. Subjection of homeschoolers to the reporting requirements of Vermont’s home education statute for more years (you do not need to share this reason with your legislators);
  3. Erosion of parental authority. Parents are in the best position to determine when their child’s formal education should begin;
  4. Inevitable tax increases to pay for more classroom space and teachers to accommodate the additional students compelled to attend public schools. When California increased 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; and
  5. Unwanted governmental intrusion. By tying funding to the number of eligible prekindergarten-age students in a district, the law would encourage school districts to conduct aggressive and intrusive census activities to maximize their funding potential.

Action Requested:
None at this time.

 Other Resources

April-13-2007—Vermont—Calls Needed to Oppose Prekindergarten Bill

April-19-2007—Vermont—More Calls Needed to Oppose Prekindergarten Bill

May-2-2007—Vermont—More Action Needed to Oppose Prekindergarten Bill

Bill Text