California may soon require kids to attend kindergarten

Children in California may soon be required to attend kindergarten. 

A bill headed to Gov. Gavin Newsom's desk Tuesday, if signed, would require California schoolchildren to complete a year of kindergarten before entering the first grade. 

This would go into effect in the 2024-2025 school year. 

California law currently allows children who are at least 5-years-old the option to attend kindergarten but they are not mandated to attend school until they are 6-years-old. 

SB-70, authored by Sen. Susan Rubio (D-Baldwin Park) would add California to more than a dozen states where kindergarten is required. 


The bill explains that other early education programs, such as transitional kindergarten, which serves 4-year-olds, does not count toward the requirement. Under the bill, students can choose to attend public or private kindergarten.

"Research has shown that kindergarten is an essential part of a student’s development and now, more than ever, this critical early instruction is necessary in order to narrow opportunity gaps that were exacerbated by COVID-19," said Los Angeles Unified Superintendent Alberto Carvalho and Board President Kelly Gonez. "Mandating a full year of kindergarten ensures students receive high-quality academic, social, and developmentally-appropriate learning experiences, as well as serves as an important tool in reducing chronic absenteeism. That is why Los Angeles Unified is proud to be a sponsor of SB 70."

According to the National Education Association, kindergarteners who miss 10% or more school days have lower academic performance when they reach the first grade. Experts predict that low-income, K-12 Latino students will scholastically fall as much as 9 months— a full academic year— behind non-Hispanic White and higher-income students from classes missed in spring 2020 alone.

"As a public school teacher for 17 years, I have witnessed the detrimental impact on young students who miss out on fundamental early education," said Sen. Rubio. "The voluntary participation for kindergarten leaves students unprepared for the educational environment they will encounter in elementary school. The pandemic has exacerbated this reality."