House Bill 369: An Act Concerning Kindergarten and the Mandatory Minimum Age for School Attendance

Massachusetts
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Last Updated: January 10, 2011
House Bill 369: An Act Concerning Kindergarten and the Mandatory Minimum Age for School Attendance
Sponsors:
Representatives Canessa, Canavan, Quinn, Cabral, Koczera, and McMurtry
Summary:

If passed, H.B. 369 would lower the compulsory attendance age from 6 to 5. In addition, each child would be required to attend a kindergarten education program before entering into first grade.

HSLDA's Position:

Oppose.

This bill would impose increased government control over children and further restrict parents’ rights to direct the upbringing and education of their children. These are rights that have been recognized by the U.S. Supreme Court as fundamental constitutional rights.

Action Requested:
None at this time
Status:

1/16/2009 (House) Filed in the House
1/16/2009 (House) Referred to the Joint Committee on Education
1/16/2009 (Senate) Concurred in Committee referral
4/23/2009 Hearing scheduled JED - 5/5/2009 1:00 p.m. A-1
12/03/2009 Hearing scheduled JED - 12/11/2009 10:30 a.m. New Bedford Main Public Library; 613 Pleasant Street.
2/10/2010 (House) Accompanied study order
This bill is dead.

Background:

The Graduation and Dropout Prevention and Recovery Commission was established in August of 2008 in accordance with Massachusetts Senate Bill 2766. The Commission has examined, among other things, the need to increase the age of compulsory school attendance in order to decrease school dropout rates, and has recommended expanding the compulsory attendance age.

Lowing the compulsory attendance age from 6 to 5 would subject Massachusetts home educators to the requirements of the homeschool law one year earlier. This means that homeschool parents would be required to seek approval from their local superintendent one year earlier than they do now.

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

  • 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.
  • 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, "Early Education Shows No Benefit."

 Other Resources

Bill Text

Bill History

Graduation and Dropout Prevention and Recovery Commission full report