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New Louisiana bill proposed to make kindergarten mandatory



LOUISIANA – A bill filed by Louisiana State Senator Cleo Fields would make kindergarten mandatory for all children. It’s the latest legislative push for higher standards since Louisiana is consistently ranked among the lowest in education.

The proposed bill would require these children to be enrolled in kindergarten by age five, starting with the 2022-2023 school year, opposed to the current law that doesn’t require a child to be enrolled until seven years old.

“At the end of the day, it has to be compulsory learning from five until, you know,” Sen. Fields said. “We can’t just wait until they’re six and seven years old to start the process.”

The Calcasieu Parish School Board superintendent said he is in favor of this bill.

“We currently support it. In addition to that, the state of Louisiana currently funds each kindergarten student, just like they do first grade through twelfth grade,” said CPSB superintendent Karl Bruchhaus.

Bruchhas said that the majority of parents in the parish already send their kids to kindergarten even though it’s optional. He added that many parents also choose to send their children to preschool as well to get a head start on education.

“We have to put the emphasis on education early because that’s when the brain is being developed, and we have to, we got to get our kids, we have to catch them up, and the only way we can do that is by doing it early,” Fields said.

“To me, education isn’t just reading and math and writing. There’s so much more,” said Kate Dronette, a kindergarten teacher at T. S. Cooley Elementary.

Dronette said that in her classroom, kids start learning life skills early to use down the road.

“We believe in our kids. I want to see every single one of my kids succeed so whether they’re my lowest kid or my highest kid, they have things that they need to work on. I’m going to push them to get there.”

Educators like Dronette argue that success in life begins in the classroom with early childhood education.

“It’s where we see the most growth, so the foundation is set here,” Dronette said.

With the bill, Sen. Field said he aims to make sure no child falls behind.

“We really have to get them earlier than kindergarten, but you certainly can’t talk about educating kids earlier than kindergarten if you’re not even requiring them to go to kindergarten,” Fields said.

Calcasieu Parish Schools offer education programs for children as young as three years old as well as pre-kindergarten starting at the age of four. When enrolling your child in school, note that Sept. 30 is the the age cutoff date.

“The sooner we can get students in the school system and build that foundation, the better off they’re going to be along the way,” Bruchhaus said.