Assembly Bill A100 is sponsored by A/M Paulin and is cosponsored by A/Ms Fahy, Jaffee, and McDonough. It was referred to the committee on Education on January 4th, 2017 and hasn’t moved since.
The bill lowers the compulsory age of education to 5 years of age. Currently, eight states plus the District of Columbia have a compulsory school age of 5. These states are Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, New Mexico, Oklahoma, South Carolina, and Virginia. The current compulsory
age in New York is 6.
On its face, this this bill seems reasonable. The sooner a child begins formal education, the better prepared they would seem to be for formal education. Therefore, this bill seems like an intuitive step forward for education in the state of New York. It addresses disparities in selective admission of certain 5 year olds, as well as problems with students entering 1st grade without prior kindergarten.
However, starting formal education later, around the age of 6 or 7, is the international standard and has the support of the experts. Substantial evidence suggests that developmental outcomes are better with nursery style
education prior to this point. The majority of European countries have a compulsory educational age of 6. Only Northern Ireland, Cyprus, England, Malta, Scotland and Wales have younger compulsory ages. An open letter to the Ministers in England recommending a later compulsory age recently garnered over 120 expert signatures.
Additionally, based on analyses conducted of other states which have considered or passed similar legislation, there are substantial costs involved in lowering the age of compulsory education. In Indiana, for instance, there were estimates that requiring students to enroll in a kindergarten program at five would cost an additional $12.4 million annually.
While the goal of the bill is admirable, it does not reflect either expert consensus on education or a national or international standard. Therefore,
we recommend a vote of NO.