Later today, some Mississippi lawmakers will lay out their plans to make kindergarten mandatory for children across the state.
Mississippi's youngest school children are starting school not ready to learn. That's according to a recent kindergarten readiness assessment that showed two-thirds of children who entered kindergarten this year, did not have basic reading skills. Carey Wright is the state Superintendent of Education.
"It's sad when you're thinking that children don't have any, any education whatsoever." Wright says. "If you got somebody that's coming in already reading that's a totally different instructional program that I need to decide for that child versus a child that can't recognize the difference between an A and a B."
That's something lawmakers are trying to fix. Currently in Mississippi, children do not have to attend school until they are six; allowing them to skip kindergarten. Under proposed legislation, children reaching five year of age by September first, would be required to begin attending school that year. Democratic Representative David Baria of Bay Saint Louis proposed one version of the bill.
"All the studies that we have looked at, and I think there's consensus on this, is that the earlier you can start educating a child the better prepared they are to get through school and to get into college if that's what they choose to do and it makes them more competitive on every level." says Baria.
However, some lawmakers don't believe it's a good idea to start -- quote -- institutionalizing children so early. John Moore is the Chair of the House Education Committee.
"When I started to school in the first grade we were unprepared." Moore says. "There were no such thing as kindergarten. Well amazingly by the time I ended the first grade we all knew how to count. We all knew how to read. We all knew that a cat was a cat and a dog was a dog. But to institutionalize in the public school setting I think would not be good."
If the measure is passed, Mississippi would become only the 10th state to require five years old to attend school.