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Bill to make kindergarten mandatory moves to state House

Legislation that would require children who are 5 years old on September 1 to attend kindergarten has advanced to the Michigan House.

Sponsors of the measure said their goals are improved academic achievement and reduced chronic absenteeism.

The measure passed the state Senate with a vote of 21-15. Republicans largely opposed it.

Senator Jonathan Lindsey (R-Allen) was one of those who opposed the measure

“I think that no one demonstrated that this was actually an adequate measure. When you look at absenteeism in the grades where we do mandate attendance, we have either a similar problem or sometimes, depending what data you're looking at, potentially even worse," he said. "So saying we're going to slap the same mandate we have on first graders on kindergartners to address that problem, just kind of doesn't make sense.”

There was a change from the original legislation, said the bill sponsor, Dayna Polehanki (D-Livonia). "The one change from the original bill: We subbed in an opt-out provision for parents who just feel like their kid's not ready. So there's an opt out. That's the most recent change in the mandatory kindergarten bill. I don't anticipate further changes," she said.

Now it goes to the Michigan House for consideration. If the bill passes the house, it would take effect beginning with the 2025-26 school year.

Christopher Johnson is married with two daughters. Born and raised in Detroit, he is a floating fill-in host at Michigan Public.
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