Senate Bill Targets K-5

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Mississippi law requires school districts to offer kindergarten, but nothing requires children to attend.

A bill that has passed the Senate and awaits House consideration would strengthen attendance laws.

The bill still would not require all five-year-olds to register for kindergarten. But it says that those who do register must attend class, just as children are required to do starting in first grade.

Sen. Terry Burton of Newton said Monday that the intent is to make sure children are ready to learn when they start first grade.

Kindergarten was one of the main sticking points during battles over Mississippi's Education Reform Act of 1982.

Those who wanted to require kindergarten said it would help children set a foundation for learning. Those who opposed it said the state should not interfere with parents' decisions on how to raise their children.

The compromise that year was to require districts to offer kindergarten but not require children to attend.