Dear WPA Members,
Please call or email your Wisconsin State Assembly Representative today or first thing tomorrow morning and ask them to vote against AB 119, a bill that would make five-year-old kindergarten mandatory. The bill is scheduled for a vote in the full Assembly tomorrow (Wednesday, September 16). For legislators' contact information go to http://www.legis.state.wi.us/ and click on "Who Represents Me?" in the center of the page.
This is not a homeschooling issue. The bill would not affect homeschoolers directly. Don’t necessarily identify yourself as a homeschooler. However, contacting your legislator today is consistent with WPA’s long-standing opposition to increased early childhood education and to this legislation. (See WPA’s testimony at http://issues.homeschooling-wpa.org/2009/04/second-test-post.html.)
Points you can make in your call or email. (It will be more effective if you choose 2 or 3 points and express them in your own words.)
• There is no demonstrated need for this bill. Statistics from the DPI show that the vast majority of parents of five year olds voluntarily send their children to kindergarten. During legislative committee hearings, the bill was basically supported by anecdotal testimony from a couple of kindergarten teachers in Milwaukee who claimed that a few of their students did not attend kindergarten regularly and should be forced to do so by the threat of truancy charges. Kindergarten teachers from other parts of the state under questioning stated that truancy was not a significant issue for five year olds for them.
• The bill is an attempt to force parents who have voluntarily enrolled their children in kindergarten to send them to school every day. However, harsh truancy measures do not work. Since the 1990s when Wisconsin increased penalties for truancy, the number of habitual truants has increased dramatically and the problem has not been solved.
• Some five year olds (particularly those with summer birth dates close to the September 1 cutoff date) are not physically, emotionally, neurologically, and/or socially ready for kindergarten. Parents should be encouraged not to send these children to kindergarten rather than being pressured into sending them. Forcing such children to attend school too early will lead to more children being labeled as “learning disabled,” etc. and put on drugs, at great cost to children, their families, and taxpayers.
• According to studies, academic gains that children make by attending full-day five-year-old kindergarten are erased by third grade. For example, see Cannon et al., “Is Full Better than Half?” RAND Working Paper Series No. WR-266, 2005.
For more on this issue, visit the WPA web site using the link above. For more information on how to contact legislators, go to http://homeschooling-wpa.org/issues/legislature/.
Thank you for your work. WPA will continue to track this issue and keep you posted. New information will appear on the WPA web site.
The WPA Board