Mandatory kindergarten passes legislature

By Adrian Dubose | LSU Manship School News Service

BATON ROUGE–Lawmakers gave final approval Wednesday to a bill that would make kindergarten mandatory in Louisiana.

Senate Bill 10 by Sen. Cleo Fields, D-Baton Rouge, requires parents to send their children to kindergarten at age 5 or offer a home-school equivalent in Louisiana.

The final version of the bill passed the House 70-32 and the Senate 38-0.

SB 10 will now go to the governor’s desk. Gov. John Bel Edwards has said he will sign it into law.

Under the bill, a child who is five years old on or before September 30 must be enrolled in kindergarten unless a parent feels they are ready. In that, the parent may put the child in pre-k or home-school.

Rep. Jason Hughes, D-New Orleans brought the bill back to the House floor after a House-Senate conference committee made amendments.

Some lawmakers raised concerns about compulsory attendance laws and options for if a child is not ready for kindergarten in the parents’ opinion.

“We addressed all the concerns that were raised,” said Hughes. “I think that this bill is more parent friendly as amended than it’s ever been.”

The bill will protect any parents who decide to defer enrolling their child in kindergarten from possible jail time or losing their child.

The bill does not prevent children from bypassing kindergarten. A child may bypass kindergarten if they take a first-grade readiness screening test to advance to first grade.