Legislation mandating kids complete kindergarten before entering first grade passes the state Assembly. The problem, said the bill’s author, Eau Claire Democrat Jeff Smith, some parents use five year-old kindergarten like day care, bringing their kids only when it suits them.
“The only way that we are able to enforce truancy rules . . . is to also include kindergarten, just like any other grade level, as a preresquisite to enter the next grade level above,” said Smith. And that, said Whitewater Republican Steve Nass, is precisely the problem with this latest state mandate. “You have to complete five year old kindergarten before you can enter the first grade. That is a requirement,” Nass said. “The only way to circumvent that is to go and beg before a school board to have an exception.”
Nass said it should be up to parents, not the state, to decide whether or not their five year olds are ready for kindergarten. According to the Department of Public Instruction, fewer than 200 kids enter the first grade each year without first having completed kindergarten. The bill now goes to the state Senate.