Senator Joe Robach Backs Rochester’s Request for Mandatory Kindergarten Attendance
Senator Joe Robach of Rochester has sponsored a bill (S.7519A) that would authorize the Rochester City School District’s Board of Education to make kindergarten attendance in its public schools mandatory. Although the district currently provides children with a full day kindergarten program, many students are frequently absent from school. As a result, many students often fall behind in their academic development. This past year, more than four hundred kindergartners missed at least twenty days of school. However, because kindergarten is not mandatory, the district’s options for addressing this truancy issue have been limited.
Senator Joe Robach’s sponsorship of the bill comes at the request of the Rochester Board of Education. Earlier this year, the Board, observing that “enumerable [sic] studies have documented the value to children of beginning the educational process at an early age in order to prepare them for a life of learning, work, and active engagement in society,” adopted a resolution asking the New York State Legislature to pass legislation that would allow it to make kindergarten attendance mandatory. Senator Robach’s legislation seeks to grant the Board this authority.
The necessity of Senator Robach’s legislation is clear. Superintendent Appointee Bolgen Vargas has associated the school district’s truancy issues with the fact that it has the worst graduation rate among the state’s cities. He believes that stronger enforcement of student attendance will help young students develop good attendance habits that will prepare them for long-term academic access. Discussing the matter, Superintendent Vargas said, “For too many years we have seen the problem of truancy to be at the high school level, but the fact is truancy begins at a very early age.”
If passed, Senator Joe Robach’s education legislation would help the Rochester City School District ensure that young students receive the numerous educational benefits of attending kindergarten. Kindergarten students would be able to not only build a foundation for reading, math, and writing, but also develop good attendance habits conducive for long-term academic success. Senator Robach’s legislation currently awaits a vote in the New York State Senate.