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Editorial: Kindergarten should stay optional in California

LA School Report | September 1, 2015

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By The Editorial Board

Kindergarten hasn’t been its old self for a long time. After decades of increasing focus on academics, it recently became more standardized as well; the curriculum for California’s 5-year-olds is now aligned with the Common Core academic standards. Kindergarten teachers are no longer preoccupied with keeping their squirmy charges from eating paste but rather with teaching them how to count to 100 by ones and by 10s, and write short paragraphs from prompts.

Yet in California and most other states, kindergarten is still optional. Parents can bring their 6-year-olds to school and demand that they be placed in first grade even if they have never been exposed to a classroom or the basic concepts of letters and numbers. It’s pretty rare, but it happens — and often, it doesn’t work out well, requiring teachers to focus disproportionate time and remedial attention on a single floundering 6-year-old.

Nevertheless, making kindergarten compulsory for all children, as proposed this year and in the past by the California Teachers Assn., is a bad idea.

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