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House passes mandatory kindergarten, sparks debate

May 23, 2019

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — The Alabama House of Representatives has passed legislation requiring 5-year-olds to attend kindergarten.

The bill by Democrat Rep. Pebblin Warren is expected to increase the average attendance for public kindergarten by an estimated 4,800 students annually.

It sparked an unexpectedly passionate debate on the House floor Thursday.

Republican Rep. Andrew Sorrell spoke in opposition to the bill. He says the legislation is “an assault on freedom” which could pave the way for future laws mandating pre-K. Democrat Rep. Kirk Hatcher called Sorrell’s remarks “reprehensible” and “deplorable.” The former educator said the benefits of the legislation outweigh any costs.

Representatives stood in applause after voting 91-11 for the bill. The legislation now moves to the Senate.

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