House passes lower school start age

MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - The Alabama House passed a proposal that would lower the mandatory start age for public school students from seven years old to six years old.

Rep. John Merrill (R – Tuscaloosa) sponsored the measure that he said sets kids up for success.

"The point is we're doing everything we can to meet the needs of every child that we're trying to serve in the entire state of Alabama and we are committed to making sure that no children fall through the cracks" Merrill said.

He cited statistics from the University of Alabama that he said proved an earlier starting age for students led to better results.

There was not widespread support from Republicans on this measure.

A member of his own party, Rep. Jack Williams, (R – Birmingham), said "Let's not take away the rights of parents to make basic decision about their children's education."

House members did pass  and amendment that was a provision that would allow parents to petition the school board to allow them to start their child later in school.

The bill passed by a 58 to 30 vote with one abstention. It now goes to the Senate for consideration.

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