Proposed legislation would lower mandatory school age from 8 to 6 in Washington

Feb 3, 2023, 6:36 AM | Updated: 7:10 am
(Photo from KIRO 7)...
(Photo from KIRO 7)
(Photo from KIRO 7)

A new bill aims to change the age at which some Washington kids go to school. As current law stands, school isn’t required for students until the age of eight. The proposed legislation, SB 5020 would lower the age to six.

Senate Education Chair Lisa Wellman sponsored the bill.

Follow this link to read additional stories from KIRO

“I cannot stress enough how important it is to begin learning as early as possible,” said Sen. Wellman at a recent committee hearing.

In summary, SB 5020:

  • Lowers the minimum age for compulsory school attendance from eight to six years old.
  • Amends truancy provisions to align with this change.
  • Requires parents who intend to have their children receive home-based instruction to file an annual declaration of intent and keep certain records beginning when a child is six instead of eight years old.

The proposed legislation is already being met with resistance.

“I think if parents want a little more time with their child, before they go off to school, I think they have that right,” says Seattle parent and grandparent, Peter.

Julie Barrett with the group Conservative Ladies of Washington voiced her opposition during a committee hearing.

“I think parents are just feeling like, this is another way that the state in the area of education is telling parents that they know better than we do,” says Barrett. “I said this in my testimony, that it almost feels like the legislators are trying to wear us out and break us down so that we will get tired of fighting it.”

Multiple bills similar to SB 5020 have been proposed and rejected since 2011.

Sen. Wellman points out that Washington is the latest state in the nation when it comes to beginning school age requirements. Most states require schooling to begin at age eight.

Follow this link to read additional stories from KIRO

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Proposed legislation would lower mandatory school age from 8 to 6 in Washington