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Questions Linger Over Mandatory Kindergarten in NYC

By Amelia Pang
Epoch Times Staff
Created: November 14, 2012 Last Updated: November 14, 2012
Related articles: United States » New York City
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Kindergarten children are seen in this file photo on November 13, 2012. (ORLANDO SIERRA/AFP/Getty Images)

Kindergarten children are seen in this file photo on November 13, 2012. (ORLANDO SIERRA/AFP/Getty Images)

NEW YORK— Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed a bill into law this summer that mandates all New York children who turn 5 before Dec.1 to attend kindergarten. However, whether that law takes effect or not lies in the hands of the city’s Department of Education, which still needs to authorize it.

“The city has not yet acted to make kindergarten compulsory, but it has clarified that the cut-off birth date is still Dec. 31, not Dec. 1. While I can’t say this is official, it is close,” wrote Judy Baum on Inside Schools, an independent guide to NYC public schools.

Baum was the director of information services for the Public Education Association for 20 years.

“The cut-off date for kindergarten admissions is not changing. Parents may choose to keep their children out of kindergarten,” wrote Gentian Falstrom, director of elementary school enrollment at the Department of Education, in an email to Inside Schools.

Other proposed changes include letting students who face bullying transfer to another school, and changes in priority admissions. A full list of proposed revisions is found on the DOE website.

The Panel for Educational Policy will be voting on admissions revisions on Dec.20. Parents and concerned citizens can testify at the meeting or send comments beforehand.

Government officials are concerned for the thousands of New York children who enter the first grade each year, without ever experiencing a classroom environment. Many believe it is a major factor of achievement gaps.

“We applaud Governor Cuomo for signing mandatory kindergarten legislation and emphasizing his commitment to early childhood education,” Speaker Christine Quinn said in a statement during the passage of the bill.

“We look forward to working with the Department of Education to implement this groundbreaking policy and to create more policies that benefit our city’s children,” she said.

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