ATLANTA — Despite pleas from parents, a subcommittee voted Monday to recommend passage of legislation to the House Education Committee that would phase in an age change for kindergarten students.

Under the amended House Bill 100, students cannot enroll if they haven’t turned age 5 by Aug. 1 in 2017 and by July 1 in 2018 and later. Current law permits enrollment if a child has reached that age by Sept. 1.

The proposal, by former school superintendent Rep. Tom Dickson, R-Cohutta, is based on teacher frustrations with students who aren’t ready for school.
But parents who testified at the hearing called it a mistake.

“Is the real problem that kindergarten has become too rigorous, or is the cutoff date the problem?” asked Natalie Ferreri of Atlanta. “Is the real problem that lots of folks hold back their children for athletic reasons, redshirting, or is the cutoff date the problem? Is the real problem that we don’t have a pre-k program available to all, including the disadvantaged throughout our state without a lottery, or is the problem the cutoff date?”

Other parents noted that changing the cutoff will force daycare centers and schools to juggle their staffing and families to adjust their finances to deal with the kids who won’t attend kindergarten as originally scheduled.

Lobbyist with educator groups supported the plan.

“It is best for all children in the state of Georgia,” said Jimmy Stokes of the Georgia Association of Education Leaders. “We feel like the additional educational maturity as well as physical maturity will enable students to be more successful.”

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