HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Gov. Neil Abercrombie on Thursday signed Senate Bill 2768 (Act 76), a measure that makes kindergarten mandatory for children who will be at least 5 years of age on or before July 31 of the school year, unless otherwise exempt.
"Mandatory kindergarten builds on this administration's early childhood education initiative by providing continuity in a child's learning experience," Gov. Abercrombie said. "This legislation assists in implementation of Common Core State Standards designed for kindergarten to grade 12, and places our students on the path to success in today's global marketplace."
"This bill aligns with the Department of Education goals and supports our young children so they may be successful learners," stated Superintendent Kathryn Matayoshi.
"Now that Hawaii has finally joined the vast majority of states that have a state-funded prekindergarten, it is critical that kindergarten be seen as the logical and required next step," said state Executive Office on Early Learning Director GG Weisenfeld. "With the rigors of the Common Core State Standards that are in place starting in kindergarten, we have to ensure our children get off to a good start, and this will really help every child to be successful."
State Senate Education Committee Chair Sen. Jill Tokuda said, "High-quality kindergarten establishes a firm foundation for a child's educational future, helping to ensure growth and success as they move forward. Establishing mandatory kindergarten is an important part of creating our early learning system, especially as we call upon students to develop deeper levels of understanding through the Common Core."
"There is no greater core function of government than providing our children the opportunity to succeed in life through public education," House Education Committee Chair Rep. Roy Takumi said. "Mandatory kindergarten is a key part of this effort and a timely one at that. Until now, there has not been a need to require all families to enroll their children in kindergarten. But as we establish the first foundations of Hawaii's early learning system, we need this important support to bridge the way for our children to succeed from prekindergarten throughout their school careers."
Act 76 will take effect by the upcoming 2014-2015 school year. It amends the Hawaii Revised Statutes, Section 302A-411 and 302A-1132, which lists exemptions from mandatory attendance.