HB 241: Compulsory Kindergarten in Utah
This bill failed in the house, with a vote of 23-46.
Under current law, families can enroll their children in 1st grade without having to send them to Kindergarten. This limited recognition of parental rights has been opposed by many who feel that earlier intervention by the state is warranted and justified.
House Bill 241, sponsored by Representative Lawanna Lou Shurtliff, lowers the minimum age for compulsory schooling in Utah, thereby compelling children who are 5-years-old as of September 2 to be enrolled in Kindergarten.
The bill also forces schools to provide a syllabus and information to families of homeschooled 5-year-olds, whereas currently it is optional for homeschooling families to obtain this information from the school district if they so choose.
In past years we have worked to improve Utah’s homeschooling laws by prohibiting the state from requiring families to teach their children certain subjects for a certain amount of time, ensuring that these families have maximum flexibility and choice in determining how to educate their children. This bill takes the law in the opposite direction, and establishes a dangerous precedent that others may wish to expand on.
Further, the bill removes the limited right of parents to keep their children outside of a formal school setting at a young age, which is especially concerning given the young age of the child and the need for many of them to remain home in a supportive environment. Parents should retain the right to avoid the school system without jumping through hoops and being told by the government how they should be teaching their child.