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Illinois Senate moves to lower mandatory school age

A new classroom has been added to the Two Rivers YMCA preschool

SPRINGFIELD (Illinios News Network) — Kids in Illinois would have to start kindergarten at 5-years-old under a plan moving ahead at the statehouse.

Illinois lawmakers are a step closer to lowering the age to start school.

The Illinois Senate last week approved a plan to lower the age to 5-years-old. Many parents start their children at age 6. Existing state law says kids have to be in school between ages 7 and 17.

Democrat Kim Lightford said lowering the school age will get kids a jump.

“It’s time for them not to wait until their 6-years-old to start school,” Lightford said at the statehouse last week. “If parents feel that their kids who turn 5 over the summer months, then they have the extra year to make sure their kids are ready.”

Critics, like Peoria Republican Chuck Weaver, said parents should decide when kids are ready for school, not the state.

“Parents are very concerned about the state taking the decision away from them,” Weaver said. “A lot of kids aren’t prepared to go to school at age 5. This makes that mandatory, it takes that [decision] away from parents.”

In addition to lowering the school age, the plan would require that every school district in the state start kindergarten classes for five-year-olds.

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