Calif. bill would change kindergarten age cutoff

A bill that would make the kindergarten cutoff birthday September 1st is ready for Governor Schwarzenegger's signature
A bill that would make the kindergarten cutoff birthday September 1st is ready for Governor Schwarzenegger's signature Mark Wilson/Getty Images

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger played a “kindergarten cop” on film. With the stroke of a pen, he could significantly change who attends kindergarten in California.

The state legislature’s passed a bill by Northern California Senator Joe Simitian that would move the kindergarten cutoff age from December 2nd to September 1st, as it is in many other states.

The issue’s a big deal for parents of kids who turn five years old around that time. Many of these parents decide to hold back their kids because they feel they’re at a developmental disadvantage in a class with kids several months or almost a year older than theirs.

Research does suggest that among other factors, starting kindergarten later in a child’s fifth year may help his or her academic career. Some parents feel that their younger kids are up to the challenge. The bill would create a transitional kindergarten for kids who don’t make the age cutoff.

On his website, Simitian’s first argument in favor of his bill is that it would save the state government about $700 million a year because public schools would serve significantly fewer kindergarteners. The governor has until the end of the month to sign or veto the bill.

John Eberly, California Kindergarten Association boardmember, said today on the Patt Morrison show that keeping up with California's rigorous academic standards are only one concern when considering sending a four-year-old child to kindergarten.

"We know there are developmental milestones that many four year olds just have not yet mastered," Eberly said. "These include cognitive, social, physical and emotional development."

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