The hotly debated Senate Bill 328 was rejected on Thursday by California Governor, Jerry Brown, who vetoed the Bill despite opposition from school boards, teachers, and private tutors in Orange County. The legislation would have delayed school start times in California until at least 8:30 AM for the majority of middle schools and high schools in the state.
As part of his veto message, Brown stated that the local community is the best place for such decisions to be made, and that the Bill is merely a “one-size-fits-all” approach that he did not believe was in the best interest of students, teachers or parents.
The measure was introduced by Democrat Senator, Anthony Portatino, along with additional supporters who pointed to research concerning student health, sleep, and later school start times.
For example, in 2014, the American Academy of Pediatrics–AAP–concluded that students enjoy better health when school begins at 8:30 AM or later. The study was originally conducted on the topic of sleep deprivation among youths, citing biological changes that make it difficult for adolescents to acquire enough sleep, and that later school start times could help remedy this problem.
However, the California School Boards Association and the California Teachers Association lobbied against the Bill, which passed the Legislature in August by a narrow margin. These associations argued that because California’s school districts and communities are so diverse, dictating start times for the entire state is counterproductive. There were a few exemptions in the SB 328, but they only applied to rural communities.
Nevertheless, Portantino has demonstrated a commitment to delay start times in the majority of California schools and said he plans to revisit the topic again next year.
Lisa Lewis, spokesperson for a nonprofit organization called “Start School Later California” has also stated that they are committed to supporting a similar bill in the Legislature next year.
Critics of the Bill state that children and teenagers should simply go to bed earlier. However, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention–CDC–it is not that simple. Experts at the CDC state that as youths go through adolescence, there is a shift in their biological rhythms, making it increasingly difficult to fall asleep early. Therefore, the combination of early school start times and delayed bedtimes results in inadequate sleep for many teenagers. In the same CDC study, it was discovered that roughly around 70 percent of youths attending high school suffer from sleep deprivation.
This research is not disputed by the Bill’s opponents, but they remain firm in their opinion that schools should be run by their local boards, rather than be ordered to comply with a statewide mandate.
Many opponents of the Bill have also stated that they believe later start times may have unintended results, such as additional costs for working parents who must arrange childcare or schedule conflicts for parents who may not make work in time if they must drop off their children later than 8:30 AM. Opponents also cite potential costs for various school districts if they must pay for extra buses to comply with the time changes.
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