Din­ni­man, Wolf call for plan to en­sure kinder­garten pro­grams

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - FRONT PAGE - Me­di­aNews Group

Penn­syl­va­nia Pub­lic School Code does not re­quire stu­dents to at­tend school un­til age 8.

WEST CH­ESTER >> Sup­port from Gover­nor Tom Wolf may help push the leg­is­la­ture to lower the age at which Penn­syl­va­nia chil­dren must en­roll in school – a move that is long over­due – state Sen­a­tor Andy Din­ni­man said this week.

While most school dis­tricts in Penn­syl­va­nia of­fer at least half-day kinder­garten, the Penn­syl­va­nia Pub­lic School Code does not re­quire stu­dents to at­tend school un­til age 8.

“It sends the wrong mes­sage about our com­mit­ment to early child­hood ed­u­ca­tion,” Din­ni­man, who serves as mi­nor­ity chair of the Se­nate

“Frankly, for us to con­tinue to fol­low a law that says the be­gin­ning of a child’s ed­u­ca­tional pur­suit can be­gin at age eight is an em­bar­rass­ment.” — Sen­a­tor Andy Din­ni­man

Ed­u­ca­tion Com­mit­tee, said. “Frankly, for us to con­tinue to fol­low a law that says the be­gin­ning of a child’s ed­u­ca­tional pur­suit can be­gin at age eight is an em­bar­rass­ment.”

In his bud­get ad­dress on Tues­day, Wolf called for low­er­ing the age of com­pul­sory at­ten­dance to age 6 to bring “our com­mon­wealth in line with the vast ma­jor­ity of other states.”

Wolf also called for “a care­ful study of the costs and ben­e­fits of mov­ing to univer­sal free full-day kinder­garten” for ev­ery child in Penn­syl­va­nia.

Din­ni­man, who has rein­tro­duced leg­is­la­tion to lower the com­pul­sory age to chil­dren who turn 5 years old as of Septem­ber 1 of the school year, said the move is a nec­es­sary pre­cau­tion.

“As the law is cur­rently writ­ten, tech­ni­cally, a school dis­trict that is strug­gling fi­nan­cially, as some of ours are, could po­ten­tially opt to cut costs by end­ing kinder­garten through se­cond grade,” he said. “That would have tragic, long-term con­se­quences for stu­dents in poorer dis­tricts.”

Din­ni­man’s bill was rein­tro­duced this week. It al­ready has 10 co-spon­sors.

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