California Governor Vetoes Mandatory Kindergarten Bill

While Democratic Gov. Newsom has previously shown support for mandatory kindergarten, he vetoed the bill requiring it, saying it was too costly for the state.

By Jessica Marie Baumgartner | Published

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In a strange turn of events, California Governor Gavin Newsom vetoed a mandatory kindergarten bill. Originally a proponent of this move to require the class for California school children, and a supporter of universal preschool, the democrat sent the bill packing after approval from state officials. So what could have changed his mind?

Most states in the country do not require kindergarten. Children who are placed into structured learning environments before they are old enough to obtain proper maturity levels suffer. They are more likely to be misdiagnosed with ADHD, grow up with increased emotional issues, and are more likely to commit a crime

Despite these obvious reasons for waiting to place children into classroom settings until they are older, the reason for Newsom’s kindergarten bill veto is less focused on caring for the next generation. Simply put, he struck down the measure due to the costs associated with it. If passed, an estimated 20,000 new students would be pumped into the education system and those children have not been accounted for in next year’s budget. 

California recently passed its largest education spending budget in the state’s history. This is amidst severe enrollment drops and low proficiency rates. The state has also come under intense scrutiny for misusing COVID-19 relief funds to install programs that teach identity-based lessons like “ethnic studies” and LGBTQ issues so adding more kindergarten students to an already inflated budget is unlikely to prove successful. 

The proposed mandatory kindergarten legislation would cost the California school system some $268 million per year. This is in addition to costly programs that provide free meals (including both breakfast and lunch) to public school children, as well as initiatives to reconstruct campuses in Los Angeles to include more green spaces. While these plans are healthy ideals, California is nearly 25% desert and so providing enough water and soil for LA’s new school gardens is likely to continue to burden the education budget well beyond its hefty limits for years to come. 

In addition, universal preschool is supposedly being implemented in California for the 2025-2026 school year. “Free” pre-school and “free” lunch programs are all funded by taxpayers — who are already struggling to pay for the exorbitant cost of living in the state. With California’s already high tax rates driving Americans out of the area, Newsom may be concerned about his fiscal behavior and how it might affect the upcoming November elections (especially after he already faced a recall). 

In 2014 mandatory kindergarten was proposed in California. It was vetoed by the former governor due to support for parental rights. This recurring measure has now been vetoed by the current governor due to the costly nature of having to educate more students.

Gov. Gavin Newsom

Parents of young children can now breathe easy knowing that the decision of whether or not to enroll young children in kindergarten classes remains with them. Instead of allowing the state to make parental decisions for families, the mandatory kindergarten bill has been vetoed. It was simply too costly for even Governor Gavin Newsom to approve.