A bill to lower the compulsory age of school attendance – from 7 to 6 – became a partisan debate in the Illinois Senate. “I believe (schools) will be pleased to receive children earlier so that they can begin learning,” said the sponsor, State Sen. Kimberly Lightford (D-Maywood). She said all of the state’s school districts but one offer kindergarten.
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“You can’t equate a government mandate with a caring parent,” said State Sen. Dale Righter (R-Mattoon). “You’re saying, we’re going to resolve the truancy issue, we’re going to make education better, we’re going to make parents better, by saying, you’ve got to send your kids to school earlier.” Other Republicans pointed out Lightford had no numbers to predict the impact on attendance or costs if her bill becomes law. Illinois is one of 16 states in which the compulsory age is older than 6. S.B. 1307 passed the Senate 37-19.