Mississippi inches closer to mandatory Kindergarten law

Mandatory Kindergarten in the state of Mississippi is getting a push from legislators who believe it is a step in the right direction of improving the state’s entire K-12 system. Representative Sonya Williams-Barnes, a democrat from Gulfport, is the author of “KIDS Act” that would change the mandatory school age for children in the state from 6 to 5 years old, in essence making Kindergarten mandatory for children in the state.

So how does Mississippi stack up against other states when it comes to the Kindergarten issue? There are only 15 states and the District of Columbia that require Kindergarten by law, and there are actually six states that do not even require public schools to offer Kindergarten. Despite the bad rap Mississippi often gets when it comes to student achievement numbers, the state does pretty well on Kindergarten access and has nationally high numbers for attendance. So adding in a Kindergarten requirement would not make a huge difference in the amount of kids who attended, but will just be more of a formality.

Where Mississippi could really use the legislative boost is when it comes to pre-K education — an area where strides are being made. The Mississippi Department of Education reports that two-thirds of all the kids who entered Mississippi public Kindergarten in the fall of 2014 did not have the base-level skills required for adequate learning. In my opinion, the age of 5 is too old for mandatory education in the state, but it will probably be a few more decades before Mississippi, or any other state, requires it any younger. Hopefully this latest proposal will pass with no problems to show that state leaders are unified when it comes to early childhood education initiatives in Mississippi.

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