The Alabama House of Representatives has passed legislation requiring 5-year-olds to attend kindergarten.
The bill by Democrat Representative 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 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. Kirk Heather, another Democrat, chimed in and 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 for approval.