2 teachers honored for inspiring reading act

November 9, 2010 12:29:44 PM PST
Two Palo Alto educators will be honored today by state Sen. Joe Simitian for inspiring him to author a new bill, the Kindergarten Readiness Act of 2010.

Kindergarten teacher Diana Argenti and support teacher and reading specialist Natalie Bivas will be honored today at a special reception held at the Palo Alto Unified School District from 5:30 to 7 p.m.

Argenti and Bivas shined a spotlight on the issue of students entering into kindergarten too young by getting 287 of their colleagues to sign a petition, which they took to Simitian's office.

"Those two teachers made a very good case," Simitian said.

Under the bill, SB 1381, children must be 5 years old by Sept. 1 to begin kindergarten. Before the readiness act, children had to turn 5 by Dec. 2.

The legislation, signed into law by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger on Sept. 30, also calls for a yearlong "transitional kindergarten," or a pre-kindergarten to help those "young 5s" prepare for kindergarten.

"The existing system is not serving the kids well," Simitian said.

He said children who start kindergarten too early often continue to struggle in the higher grades.

"This is a challenge that lingers with these kids year after year," he said.

Adherence to the act will be phased in over three years beginning in the fall of 2012 so school officials have a chance to plan and make adjustments as necessary, Simitian said.

The reception will take place the Palo Alto Unified School District, 25 Churchill Ave., Palo Alto.


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