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Dispatches from public radio's correspondent at the Oregon Legislature. This is a venue for political and policy coverage of the state government in Salem and its impact on the people of Oregon.

Oregon Senate Votes To Lower 'Compulsory' School Attendance Age

Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Robert Stirrup
US Navy
File photo. The Oregon Senate voted to require six-year-olds to attend school.

The Oregon Senate voted Thursday to lower the age that children have to enroll in school from age seven to age six.

Supporters say an earlier start gives students a better head start to their education. But opponents said some six-year-olds just aren't ready. Republican Senator Jeff Kruse said he'd vote yes, but reluctantly.

"Parental discretion is something that we need to take very seriously and we need to give parents the ability to make decisions like that as to whether their child is ready,” he said.

An earlier version of the bill had stronger opposition. It would have lowered the required school attendance age to five.

Even changing it to six will make Oregon the state with the youngest mandatory school attendance age in the Northwest. It’s seven in Idaho and eight in Washington.