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Assemblymember Al Muratsuchi Introduces Bill That Requires Kindergarten for California Students

For immediate release:

Torrance, CA – Assemblymember Al Muratsuchi (D-Torrance), Chair of the Assembly Education Committee, introduced Assembly Bill 2226, a measure requiring children to attend one year of kindergarten before enrolling in first grade, beginning with the 2026-2027 school year.  This would thereby make kindergarten mandatory, and ensuring children are well prepared to enter first grade. Senator Susan Rubio (D-Baldwin Park) introduced a similar measure in the Senate, Senate Bill 1056.

Currently, kindergarten is not required for students in California. In California, kindergarten is considered a grade level, is factored in calculating average daily attendance (ADA), and is included in the academic content standards, curriculum frameworks, and instructional materials. However, attendance in kindergarten is not mandatory, and compulsory education laws begin at age six, so parents must enroll their children in school once they reach the age of six. With parental input, it is a local decision whether a six-year-old student will be enrolled in kindergarten or be eligible for first grade.

"We know the achievement gap is present before children attend first grade. California is making substantial investments in pre-kindergarten programs, including transitional kindergarten (TK) and the California State Preschool Program (CSPP), providing opportunities for children to have two years of high-quality early education before entering first grade. To fully realize this goal, we must ensure that all children attend kindergarten to build the foundational skills and knowledge necessary to support their ongoing academic and social-emotional success," said Assemblymember Al Muratsuchi, Chair of the Assembly Education Committee.

"As a public school teacher for over 17 years, I have witnessed firsthand the detrimental impact on young students who miss out on fundamental early education," said Senator Susan Rubio. "The voluntary participation for kindergarten leaves students unprepared for the educational environment they will encounter in elementary school. Recent data from the California Research Bureau shows that the majority of students who are not enrolled in kindergarten are Latino, creating an equity issue throughout the state and worsening the already troubling achievement gap. We have a responsibility to uplift all children in our community and ensure all students reach their full potential. This will only happen if every child is enrolled in kindergarten."

"Research shows that Kindergarten is an essential part of a young student's development. This critical early instruction and socialization serves as an important tool in reducing chronic absenteeism and sets a strong foundation for every child, particularly our most disadvantaged students. This is the right investment for the State of California and the State cannot wait any longer to enact this law to support every child with the opportunity to enter first grade with the tools they need to succeed. Los Angeles Unified is proud to be a sponsor of this important bill. We look forward to continuing to partner with Senator Rubio, Assemblymember Muratsuchi and other state leaders to pursue policies in the best interest of children," said Los Angeles Unified Superintendent Alberto M. Carvalho.

"Kindergarten lays the essential foundation for students, guiding them toward long-term achievement in language, literacy, mathematics and social-emotional development," said Jeffery Freita, President, CFT – a Union of Educators and Classified Professionals.

"Kindergarten is a fundamental piece of early learning. As California expands transitional kindergarten and other preschool opportunities, kindergarten becomes more important than ever in making sure all kids enter first grade ready to succeed," Meredith Yeh, Co-President, California Kindergarten Association.

"Mandating students to attend kindergarten prior to entering the first grade will ensure all students receive high-quality academic, social, linguistic and developmentally-appropriate learning experiences," Martha Hernández, Executive Director, Californians Together.

"Early Learning is essential for children's physical, intellectual and socioemotional development and provides them with the fundamental skills and tools needed for academic success," said Patricia Lozano, Executive Director, Early Edge California.

"The Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce is proud to continue our support for LAUSD and Senator Rubio and Assemblymember Muratsuchi's Legislative efforts to expand kindergarten to all," Maria S. Salinas, President & CEO of the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce.

"More than ever, especially post COVID, we need to see kindergarten as a 'study bridge between the early years and the year grades' – the time when we can set the stage for the learning experience for children and when engaging parents in their children's educational journey will have huge payoffs later," Yolie Flores, President and CEO, Families In Schools.

Mandatory kindergarten has the potential to increase equity and reduce opportunity gaps. Research demonstrates the effectiveness of kindergarten attendance, particularly for disadvantaged children. According to the U.S. Department of Education, based upon a nationally representative sample of kindergarteners, Black and Latino children score significantly lower than White children in reading and math at kindergarten entry. One study found that the racial/ethnic differences in achievement and social-emotional skills primarily reflect pre-k differences in these areas.

Assemblymember Al Muratsuchi represents California's 66th Assembly District, which includes El Segundo, Gardena, Hermosa Beach, Lomita, Los Angeles, Manhattan Beach, Palos Verdes Estates, Rancho Palos Verdes, Redondo Beach, Rolling Hills, Rolling Hills Estates, San Pedro and Torrance. Muratsuchi is Chair of the Assembly Education Committee, Chair of the Assembly Select Committee on Aerospace, and a member of the Committees on Budget, Budget Subcommittee on Education, Higher Education, Natural Resources, and the Joint Legislative Committee on Climate Change Policies.

CONTACT: Kerry Jacob, 310-806-0893