Sunday night, Gov Gavin Newsom, Democrat of California, signed SB 328, the “School Start Time Bill,” and an 8:00 start time for middle school and 8:30 start time for high school will be phased in for public school students in the state over the next three years, the Los Angeles Times reports.
At the Social Justice Humanitas Academy in the San Fernando Valley, students already start the day at 8:30 AM, and first period has an extra 15 minutes to allow time for students to eat breakfast, etc.
“If you get a kid rested and with food in them, the rest of that time can be more effective,” the paper quoted Principal Jeff Austin as saying. “Getting a kid to school or dealing with how late the day goes, those are all technical fixes, but you can’t change the adolescent brain. … I can’t make a kid be awake at 7:45 AM.”
After a David vs Goliath struggle, California has just made child protection and public health history by legislating healthy, safe, equitable school hours. States across the nation should now feel empowered to follow California’s lead. #SB328 #startscho… https://t.co/H7gMAKKZrv pic.twitter.com/uqawGy74wt
— Start School Later (@StartSchoolL8r) October 14, 2019
The law has not been without its controversies. Most of the opposition has been focused on calls for local control, calling on the government to allow local boards of education to set start times for schools in their districts based strictly on their own needs. But the argument generally falls flat in the face of decades of published science.
The science & economic benefits of later school start times is clear. The few lobbyists against #SB328 are hollering about “local control” – but what about the ability of parents to control the health of their kids in the face of compulsory early school start times? @GavinNewsom
— SuspendedEducation (@Suspended_Ed) October 13, 2019
Plus, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the California Medical Association, and the California State Parent Teacher Association all have expressed a positive opinion about the new law.
The AAP was quoted as saying it “recognizes insufficient sleep in adolescents as a public health issue, endorses the scientific rationale for later school start times, and acknowledges the potential benefits to students with regard to physical and mental health, safety and academic achievement.”