Petition to CHANGE Florida kindergarten cut off date

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As a parent, we want the best for our children. Each child progresses, learns and hits mile stones at different times. However, studies show that children that are taught at an early stage have a greater chance in being successful in their academic in the future. During preschool years, children explore at every occasion to learn new experiences, new friends and new environments. Their minds are so lively and imaginative. Even though early childhood education has a tremendous impact on academic outcomes, most children that are born after September 1st are enrolled in daycare with no exposure to academic learning. This is very alarming because studies show that children who get early literacy exposure with positive speech interactions have 32-million-word benefits by age four over children who did not get this exposure. Teaching our children how to read in an early age can be accomplished easily and informally with a little literacy activity each day in short duration. Neuroscientists also tell us that the preschool brains are like sponges and we are more likely to rearrange dysfunctional or dyslexic reading circuitry if we intervene early.

In Florida, our children are being denied education based on a date and not on their academic abilities. Children that have Birthdays after September 1st do not get the same opportunities as children that are born before September 1st. Only children born before Sept. 1 can enter any prekindergarten that receives state funding (voluntary prekindergarten, or VPK) during the year they turn 4 years old. Likewise, only children who turn 5 years old before Sept. 1 can enter any kindergarten that receives state funding during the year the children turn 5. Children that turned 4 during the first week of September or later are not eligible to be in a VPK class because their birthday are after Sept. 1. However, children born Aug. 31 were eligible for VPK. These children will be eligible for VPK until next year, which is when they turns 5 -- and all the kids in their age cohort are headed to kindergarten.

Even if the parent decides to teach the child at home in order for the child be prepare for VPK or PreK program, the child may still be disqualify due to the assessment. If the child over perform on the assessment, the state recommend the parent to allow the child to attend day care instead of school. Basically, the state punishes your child if he/she too readily prepared for school just because your child was not born on before September 1st. They are solely held back a year because of the cutoff date even though they are ready to start kindergarten. There are other states that have their Kindergarten cutoff date as Dec. 31st and the children still thrives throughout their academic journey.

Another concern that we faced is the fact that a child whose birth date is after September 1 who has completed a Florida nonpublic school kindergarten program can not be admitted into a Florida public school as a first grade. Not only public school cutoff date is September 1st but majority of the private school have adopted the same cutoff date. It is rare to find a private school that will accept a child after the cut off date and they tend to be very pricey. 

In short, parents can place their children in a private school that doesn't accept state funding, all the way through the end of first grade, at which time they will be able to transfer them to either a public school or any private school that does accept state funding.

The parents that are affected are not okay with the alternative and we do not have the money to waste on private schools. But we do want our children to have the same opportunity like other children that were born before the cutoff date. If the cut of date remains September 1st, children that excel in the assessment should be exempt and should allow to pursuit their education.

We humbly and respectfully ask that you re consider amending this part of legislation that will benefit all children entering the educational system and properly prepare them for the rigorous course work expected through the new common core standards.

 

 



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