Buffalo Makes Kindergarten Mandatory


Finger Painting

Should kindergarten be mandatory? 

Lawmakers in Buffalo, New York, think so. The city recently changed its policy and made kindergarten mandatory for all 5-year-olds. Parents in the city must now send their little ones to the schoolhouse or face enforcement through child protective service agencies.

Currently, the quasi-grade it is not mandatory in most states. While all states provide kindergarten, parents are under no legal obligation in most states to send their kids off to the school until their sixth birthday. 

Policymakers in Buffalo say they need the law to improve kindergarten absenteeism rates. Before attendance was mandatory, parents who voluntarily chose to enroll their kids didn't "take attendance for kindergarten classes seriously." 

It is hard to take a grade that most people associate with finger painting seriously. And that might be part of the issue. Kindergarten isn't just child's play anymore. Researchers say kindergarten has become the new first grade where little tots are taught to read and write.

So, when kids miss that year, they might miss out on being on par with their peers in first grade. 

We can thank the Germans for our traditional view of the class. Friedrich Wilhelm Froebel established the first kindergarten program in Germany in 1837. Froebel emphasized learning through playing and believed in the importance of stories, music, nature studies and symbolic ideas like children sitting together in "the kindergarten circle."

The word kindergarten originated from the way Froebel described children: as plants who were nurtured by their gardener/teachers.

Another component of the bill is prekindergarten. Interim Buffalo School Superintendent Will Keresztes said the bill will "heighten interest by parents in sending their children to prekindergarten programs. He added that the district would push for more money from the state for an expansion of prekindergarten classes.

So, it may be only a matter of time before prekindergarten becomes the new kindergarten and so forth. Which raises the real question: How early can the state force parents to give up their kids to the school system?

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  1. All of elementary school is unnecessary in my opinion. Its primary goal is to distinguish the gifted from the average from the special-ed students. I don’t remember anything before middle school.

    1. Haha, tracking in the US? I think not.

    2. I still remember my kindergarten teachers legs.

      1. *teacher’s

  2. Which raises the real question: How early can the state force parents to give up their kids to the school system?

    Coercion begins at conception.

    1. You misspelled contraception.

    2. I was going to say, the only choice you make is whether to abort the fetus, or give it up to CPS at birth.

      But that would lead to such a drop in natality rates that they’d ban abortions in short order.

  3. For a lot of people this is just one more year of free (publicly funded) day care.

    1. This!!!! Obama called it “pre-school”, not “day care”, for a reason.

  4. Naturally, the default response to any question in the form “Should X be mandatory?” is “No”.

  5. Progressivism: Ideas so good they’re mandatory.

  6. Kindergarten wouldn’t be necessary, let alone pre-K, if the next twelve years of public instruction weren’t such an undiluted mess.

  7. I grew up in Buffalo, couldn’t wait to move away, but still get excited when it’s mentioned anywhere.

    1. The sadness. It hurts.

    2. A fellow escapee!

      Kindergarten in Buffalo was actually pretty good. We walked (without parents or grown ups!) to a nice school with a (real) jet fighter on a pedestal out front, had a snack of (whole) milk (I think) and cookies, and had a nice teacher names Mrs. Hammond (which became Mrs. Ham-and-eggs).

      I suspect that children now marched to their pens under armed guard, the fighter has long since been replaced with a smiley face statue, milk is probably now (pasturized) apple juice (from concentrate) and calling the teacher anything other than her name would get one expelled.

      Nope, not something to mandate.

      (First grade wasn’t as nice.)

    3. Me too. There are a few things I miss but overall I think I made the right choice.

  8. “Should kindergarten anything be mandatory?”


    1. Libertarianism should be mandatory. It kind of is, except Leviathan doesn’t follow the Constitution anymore.

  9. Has Belgium been on a 90 minute power play?

    1. Did they knock the US out?

      I CBA to learn the intricacies of this or any sport.

    2. If the US had shown the sack it had in the last 20 minutes in the first 100, the outcome might have been different.

      1. Like I said elsewhere, it’s not that simple. Of course we all would have liked some more incisive possession, but Belgium is a great team.

        1. Like I said elsewhere, it’s not that simple.

          But it is that boring.

          1. RC, if you thought the last 20 minutes of that game were boring, you need to watch a baseball “pitching duel”.

            1. RC? Anyway, I don’t really give a good goddamn what people who are never going to like the game anyway think.

              That was a hell of a fight. And we were a poor touch away from WINNING it in normal time, and we nearly pulled off a training ground free kick play for the equalizer in extra time.

              1. I suspect MM is RC Dean. I could be wrong. And yeah, that set piece in OT was – almost – great.

                1. Don’t care. Chat about stupid TV sports shows somewhere else. Please.

  10. My kid went to school in Florida. I can’t speak to any other state, but my god, the time wasted in a typical day! I do not exaggerate — I can easily imagine a mom, tutoring her kid for 60 to 90 minutes a day, getting her child into college by age 15. I’ve read too many stories of home schooled kids learning so much faster and getting into college to think that government school is anything less than child abuse (yes, I’m guilty).

    I grew up in the 60s and 70s, and what I learned in 12 years of school is such a tiny, tiny fraction of what I know now, it’s not funny. It’s criminal, but it’s not funny.

    1. The actual age of academic readiness for college is closer to 13 (home schooled 4 here) but there’s a lot of dilly dallying and goofing off in that. If we had REALLY pushed hard, I think college ready by 10 is feasible.

    2. I met a lot of girls at school. It’s not all bad.

  11. prekindergarten classes

    Of course, there’s an advanced placement option in which ….
    On second thought, no. That would not further *diversity* in these classes — which will, of course, be “taught” in as many languages as the children hear at home.

  12. Kindergarten isn’t mandatory in Buffalo or anywhere else. Homeschooling is legal in all 50 states. Some states like NY require some regulatory hoop-jumping but there’s no such thing as compulsory public education any longer.

  13. there’s no such thing as compulsory public education any longer

    Tell that to parents and children incarcerated for offenses related to truancy. Education is compulsory in all 50 states.

    1. Truancy is separate from homeschooling. When you choose to homeschool you must follow your state’s regulations and declare your intention, if you don’t then you’re truant. The regulations in some states are incredible minimal. New Jersey requires that a letter of intent be sent to your district and that’s it – nothing else.

      1. That’s a damn sight better than CA where my brother’s homeschooled kids spent two days a week in state mandates testing to make sure they were progressing appropriately… probably another reason that they are moving this week.

      2. Indiana is a letter of intent state, for which I am grateful. The problem with Public School is the public school model of instruction which is possibly the least effective way to teach any child anything ever devised. The fact that any learning occurs is a testament to the amazing ability of children to learn in spite of school.
        Consider that well before any formal schooling happens, the average child has become fluent in at least one language, and culture, and has mastered a huge range of physical skills from scratch just by observation of his parents and experimentation.

  14. The Buffalo Public School System is especially ill run and failing already. I doubt the problem was too many parents opted out of kindergarten.

  15. How early can the state force parents to give up their kids to the school system?

    I think it’s interesting that even the Soviet Union didn’t make education compulsory until age 7.

    1. That’s because they needed them to dig potatoes and pull weeds in the vegetable garden.

  16. NPR’s show “Marketplace” did a story on how most charter schools only match the performance of “real schools”; the story focused on how much more horrible some charter schools actually were. I sometimes wonder on what data such assertions are based.

  17. I think the way Texas works is that kindergarten is not mandatory but if you enroll your child then attendance becomes mandatory. But like most things in texas the enforcement has fewer teeth than you might expect. There is a lot of statutory intimidation that if you read closely turn out to be optional.

  18. Policymakers in Buffalo say they need the law to improve kindergarten absenteeism rates.

    I… ok so… ok, so something that wasn’t mandatory was seeing too many people not doing it, so the law was necessary to make so all the people who didn’t engage in the activity engage in it now because non-mandatory thing was non-mandatory.

    That about right?

  19. THis is a union driven effort to increase dues paying teachers. 13th grade coming next.

    1. We already have 13th grade–it’s called freshman year of college, which is largely wasted by paying $10-20K to have a place to get drunk for nine months.

  20. Froebel emphasized learning through playing and believed in the importance of stories, music, nature studies and symbolic ideas like children sitting together in “the kindergarten circle.”

    And up until about 10-15 years ago, that’s all kindergarten was–a sort of glorified babysitting service where kids mostly played (and incidentally, research has shown that this is how they learn best during those years) and maybe learned a few simple math problems and sentences.

    Now parents are so bent out of shape that little Khyrystalyn or Jaxon may not be a budding Einstein that they’re demanding this kind of 2 hrs of homework a night bullshit for kindergartners, and education bureaucrats are happy to oblige because it gives them a pointless bullet point to put on their annual review.

  21. How early can the state force parents to give up their kids to the school system?

    I expect as soon as they don’t have to change the diapers

  22. Here in Taiwan, children often start private classes, especially English, at three if the parent can afford it.

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