MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — A bill that received final passage in the Alabama Legislature would require that Alabama children begin attending school or be home schooled at the age of 6.
State law currently sets the mandatory age of students to attend school at 7 years old. The bill, which had already passed the Senate, was approved by the House Tuesday on a 73-20 vote and now goes to Gov. Robert Bentley for his review/
Bentley's press secretary, Jennifer Ardis, said the legislation would be reviewed before the governor decides if he will sign the legislation.
The Senate sponsor, Democratic Sen. Priscilla Dunn of Bessemer said it would have affected 51 children in Alabama last year.
"We've learned that the earlier a child learns, the better they do in school and later in life," Dunn said. "Children who are 7 when they go to school are way behind other kids."
She said the bill applies to children attending first grade, not kindergarten.
The House sponsor, Republican Rep. John Merrill of Tuscaloosa, said the new mandatory start age will make sure all children have the same chance for academic success.
The bill allows pupils to begin school at the age of 7 if parents make a request in writing.
Democratic Rep. John Rogers said all public schools now offer kindergarten classes and he felt the mandatory age of 6 was too old. An amendment by Rogers to change the age to 5 failed.