JOINT LEGISLATIVE ACTION ALERT – April 9, 2012
From: Roy Hanson — Family Protection Ministries and Mike Smith — HSLDA
Bill: AB 2203 (as introduced 2/23/12) – 5-Year-Old Compulsory Education
Author: State Assembly Member V. Manuel Perez
Position: Strongly OPPOSE
Status: New Hearing date set for this Wednesday, April 11, 2012, in California State Assembly Education Committee.
Summary of Concern:
AB 2203 would lower the compulsory education age from 6 to 5 years of age, in effect making kindergarten mandatory. AB 2203 also would take another incremental step toward forcing a mandatory state-licensed preschool program for all 3 and 4-year-olds.
Information Included In This E-mail:
A. Action Items
B. Opposition Points to Share with Legislators
C. Background Information
A. Action Items:
1) CALL IMMEDIATELY – If you called already, please call again – (preferably before 3:00 p.m. tomorrow, Tuesday, April 10th) the member of the Assembly Education Committee according to the first letter of your last name as indicated in the alphabetized list below.
TELL THEM: –
“Please vote no on AB 2203 (by Perez). I oppose lowering the compulsory attendance age to 5 or making Kindergarten mandatory.”
2) Consider following up your call by faxing a brief letter.
(Refer to”Opposition Points to Share with Legislators” below for additional ideas you could include in writing your letter or fax.)
• Call as a parent and citizen. This bill directly affects all families with young children.
• Do not disclose the source of this Alert. All bills are available on the Internet.
• Because e-mails are easily ignored, calls, letters, and faxes are more effective.
• Reprint this for your friends, church, school, and group.
• Pray for a proper outcome.
For Action Item #1 above, please call the member of the Assembly Education Committee according to the first letter of your last name as indicated in the following list:
Wilmer Amina Carter
Linda Halderman, M.D.
You may use one or more of the “Opposition Points to Share with Legislators” stated below if you fax a letter to a committee member — preferably before 3:00 p.m. tomorrow, Tuesday, April 10th.
(For more information about the Education Committee members and addresses for sending letters please visit http://aedn.assembly.ca.gov/membersstaff.)
B. Opposition Points to Share with Legislators:
1. AB 2203 is not necessary. According to the Assembly Education Committee and the California Department of Education on March 16, 2012, 90-95% of all children of kindergarten age already attend public or private kindergarten. Parents who desire to enroll their children at age 5 in California can choose to do so already. In September 2002, Governor Davis vetoed AB 634, which addressed mandatory kindergarten attendance saying, “I am concerned that this bill would unduly restrict a parent’s or guardian’s education choices for their children. I believe parents should retain the right to choose an education program for their 5-year-old children.”
2. AB 2203 decreases beneficial parental contact with their children. An extra year of development outside of school can be critical for a child at this early age. Carl Zinsmeister, Adjunct Research Associate at the American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research, says, “Declining parental attachment is an extremely serious risk to children today. The verdict of enormous psychological literature is that time spent with the parent is the very clearest correlate of healthy child development.” Parents should continue to have the authority to decide what is best for their children.
3. AB 2203 forces children into school too soon. There is much research indicating that early childhood education not only can cause both physical developmental and behavioral problems in future years but also does not improve the child’s potential for being a better student later on. This is especially significant for boys, because their cognitive and verbal skill development generally lags behind that of girls at this age.
4. AB 2203 is based on faulty information. Arthur Jensen, a learning psychologist, wrote in the Harvard Educational Review in 1969 that Benjamin Bloom’s conclusion that people develop 50% of their mature intelligence by the age of 4 is a statistically unwarranted conclusion. In 1970, Nancy Bayley, a University of California child psychologist whose data Bloom used, pointed out that Bloom’s theory was wrong because it was based on an inadequate definition of intelligence. In spite of statements to the contrary, there is no solid evidence that early education brings any lasting or permanent educational benefit to a child.
5. AB 2203 would place an increased financial burden on parents who desire to enroll their children in private schools starting with the first grade.
6. For documentation of research supporting the above statements and additional related research results, please see our background documents on early childhood education at www.childandfamilyprotection.org. Every parent should read this short paper.
C. Background Information:
• AB 2203 would lower the compulsory attendance age for entry into school from 6 to 5 years of age. This requirement would apply to all children, whether their parents plan to send them to public school or private school (including private homeschools).
• Rushing children into formal education by lowering the age for compulsory education will exact a heavy toll on the development of many children and will weaken the role of parents in their lives. This is diametrically opposed to the message parents are routinely given, that parents need to be more involved in their children’s lives. However, parents cannot be more involved when the state either encourages or requires children to be with their parents for less time. Research supports later rather than earlier entry of children into institutionalized settings for educational development to be the most beneficial.
• AB 2203 encroaches on the fundamental right of parents to direct the upbringing and education of their children. It ignores the long-standing presumption that parents act in the best interest of their children, by requiring parents to enroll their children in kindergarten rather than allowing them the choice specified in current law. It disregards the parent’s understanding of what would be the best course of action for his own child’s education and development.
• AB 2203 also would establish a voluntary kindergarten readiness program for every child under 5 years of age in participating counties.
• Advocates of government control of all children would be able to use AB 2203 as an incremental step toward establishing a seamless, cradle-to-grave, government-run education and human development program. Passage of AB 2203 could be followed by future legislation making institutionalized preschool mandatory for every 3 and 4-year-old child. Universal preschool has been proposed by legislators and openly encouraged by proponents of early childhood education. Washington D.C. considered 3-year-old compulsory education a few years ago.
This would not be something homeschooling parents could comply with simply by starting their private school earlier. The California Education Code governs education for pupils between the ages of five and eighteen with the current compulsory education ages being six to eighteen. For education below the age of four years and nine months, there is a different set of laws and a different department (California Department of Social Services, Community Care Licensing Division) to govern and oversee all education and care programs for this age group.
The requirements for establishing a certified education program for those under the age of five years would be cost-prohibitive and time-prohibitive for virtually all homeschooling families. The licensing regulations govern everything from food to toys, from educational methods to actual materials and topics, and facility standards (your home), including play areas, bathrooms, kitchen, fence and gates around property, etc. Also, your home may be in an area that has zoning issues that would also regulate or prohibit such usage. The bottom line is that this would not be just adding a few more years to the beginning of your home-based private schools. Rather it would force all parents to send their 3 and 4-year-olds out of the home for institutional early education regardless of the desires of the parents.
For information on how to contact your state assembly member and state senator, please visit http://bit.ly/HpgytN.