GOP majority defeats bills to mandate full-day kindergarten, access to pre-K programs

RICHMOND — This morning, in a series of party-line votes, the Senate Committee on Education and Health rejected three Democratic bills to ensure that early education is available to all four- and five-year-olds and to require full-day kindergarten in all Virginia localities. More precisely, the committee rejected:

  • Sen. Jennifer Wexton’s (D - Loudoun) SB 279, a bill to require that localities develop and submit plans to implement full-day kindergarten
  • Sen. George Barker’s (D - Fairfax) SB 321, a bill to require that school districts offer full-day kindergarten in order to receive full accreditation
  • Sen. John Edwards’ (D - Roanoke) SB 540, a bill to require that schools offer early education to four- and five-year-olds not eligible for kindergarten or existing at-risk early education programs

Said Sen. Wexton, “Unlike almost every other locality in Virginia, my home county of Loudoun does not provide all students with access to full-day kindergarten. Children in Loudoun — and in all localities— deserve the same opportunities as children anywhere else. I’m disappointed the committee has ignored that simple truth.”

Said Sen. Barker, “Full-day kindergarten should be available to all students, not just most students. Studies show that full-day kindergarten makes a difference for our children, not just during kindergarten but throughout their school years. It is absurd that three school divisions out of 135 deny children that benefit.”

Said Sen. Edwards, “Time and again, studies have shown that early education offers clear and lasting benefits. Expanding access to pre-school would help our children to grow and learn and succeed. We should always choose to invest in our children, and I'm deeply disappointed that that the committee refused to do that.”

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