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What Time Should School Start?

National debate emerges in California

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WHAT IT IS

  • California (CA) is the first state to mandate a later school start time for middle and high school students. [The Los Angeles Times]

  • Senate Bill 328 (SB328) requires all CA middle schools to start no earlier than 8:00 AM and high schools to start no earlier than 8:30 AM. [The New York Times]

  • All CA middle and high schools now have three years to make the change. [The San Fransisco Chronicle]
  • Sep. 2017: SB328 was introduced to the state assembly, but was rejected. [The Sacramento Bee]

  • Aug. 2018: The CA legislature passed SB328. [The New York Times]

  • Sep. 2018: Former CA Governor Jerry Brown vetoed the bill, in support of the teachers union and public sentiment. [The Sacramento BeeRead Jerry Brown's veto here.

  • Oct. 2019: Current CA Governor Gavin Newsom signed the bill into law. His expressed hope is that the later start time will increase student achievement through increased sleep. [The Los Angeles Times]

WHY IT MATTERS

CIVICS: Lobbying ​​​​​​efforts were critical in helping pass SB328. Supporters of SB328 worked for over 3 years to finally see the law passed. Watch to learn more about lobbying.

 

SOCIAL: Change to the daily routine is highly disruptive to more than just students. [The San Fransisco ChronicleThink of everyone involved in running one school day - bus drivers; parents that drop their kids off before they go to work; coaches; after-school programs, even the general community of traffic - later start time for all local schools change everyone in the community's daily schedule, regardless if they have a child attending school. 

EARLY START TIME

Consensus not reached

While getting adequate amounts of sleep does increase the potential for cognitive (brain) success, it has yet to be scientifically agreed upon that a later start to school relates to more sleep. [The San Fransisco Chronicle]

 

Los Angeles Unified District ran a pilot study for two years on a later start time and student achievement. No "conclusive benefits on student achievement, attendance, enrollment or suspensions" were reported. [The Los Angeles Times

 

 

Working concerns

A delayed start in a school day could lead to more stress on parents, who now need to work around dropping their children off at school while also arriving to work on time. [The Los Angeles Times]

 

 

Many lobbied against

The California Teachers Association and the California School Boards Association opposed Senate Bill 328, saying the government should not be able to impose a wide-scale change in the school day without the input of local school districts. [The Sacramento Bee]

 

The California School Boards Association has even argued that later start time is a "luxury" that families in lower socioeconomic status cannot afford. [The Sacramento Bee

 

 

Time is money 

As a result of a belated school start time, public buses will need to readjust bus routes, which leads to increased transportation costs. Some estimate it would be an additional $10 million a year.  [The New York Times]

LATER START TIME

Mental health needs 

According to a statement from the American Academy of Pediatrics, lack of sleep from students affects their mental health. 

 

Lack of sleep can increase the risk of depression and anxiety. [The New York Times], [American Academy of Pediatrics]

 

 

Health issues 

Later school hours work in favor of a young adult’s crucial sleep schedule.

 

One of the many changes kids go through during puberty and adolescence include sleep cycles, where they tend to be more alert at later hours of the day due to shifting melatonin levels. [American Sleep Apnea Association]

 

Recent research suggests that sleep is critical for controlling the expression of genes and the development of your social brain. [Science Daily]

 

 

Academics 

Tired students can result in poor academic performances and even absentee children. [The Atlantic]

 

Both are a factor that can negatively affect how much federal funding a public school receives. [The Brookings Institute]

THINGS TO THINK ABOUT

  • Read through the Senate Bill 328 here.

  • According to the CDC, 5 out of 6 middle and high schools in the U.S. start before 8:30 AM. [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention]

  • Dive into other California bills originally vetoed by the former governor but signed by the current here.

  • How will later start times affect school sports and other after school activities?

  • Reflect on the long story of SB328 - from the draft, to debate, to veto and now law. How might this relate to your legislative desires for your community or nation?

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