Indiana

Education, From The Capitol To The Classroom

Democrats Say Lawmakers’ Early Learning Initiatives Should Include Attendance Age

Gov. Mike Pence would like to see more public-private partnerships like the one in Columbus fund pre-K programs.

Elle Moxley / StateImpact Indiana

Senate Democrats want to make lowering Indiana's compulsory attendance one of state lawmakers' early childhood education initiatives this session.

The state’s legislative leaders say an increased emphasis on providing early childhood education will be a key focus of the upcoming session — and Senate Democrats say that focus should include requiring Hoosier children to attend school at a younger age.

Under Indiana law, Hoosier kids don’t have to attend school until they’re 7 years old.  That’s one of the latest mandatory school ages in the country. Senate Minority Leader Tim Lanane, D-Anderson, says he was surprised to learn that the age had never been lowered.

“By the time kids reach the age of seven, there’s so much development that should have occurred already,” says Lanane. “It’s crucial that we get the mandatory start age down.”

But House Speaker Brian Bosma says enacting legislation to lower the school start age likely isn’t necessary.

“We have some 96 percent of our kindergarten-aged children now with access to a full day kindergarten program and taking advantage of it,” says Bosma. “So by making the opportunities available, that question has almost solved itself.”

Bosma says the same principle applies to preschool – by making quality preschool options available and affordable for Hoosier families, more children will take advantage of the programs.

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