Senator Anthony Portantino announced Senate Bill 328 which would forbid middle and high schools from starting the school day any earlier than 8:30 a.m., reports latimes.com.
With a recommendation from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), Portantino stated that if these school districts push back the school start times, they should expect to see an increase in attendance rates, grade point averages, and test scores, reports ktla.com.
Previously before 1970s, students of all grades had school start times closer to 9:00 a.m., reported startschoollater.net. These start times were made earlier in attempt to save money by re-using the buses and drivers they had already hired.
Studies have shown that students nowadays aren’t getting the average 8.5-9.5 hours of sleep each night. This lack of sleep is also linked to mental health problems and drug usage. “To do nothing is to do harm,” says Judith Owens, M.D., a neurology professor at Harvard Medical School, director of sleep medicine at Boston Children’s Hospital and former director of sleep medicine at Children’s National Medical Center.
“Education reform is a buzz word these days,” Portantino stated. “To me this is education reform where there’s no debate about the benefits. The science and research are clear: Our kids will do better if we start the school day later.”
According to sacbee.com, almost everyone agreed to sign on this, but Portantino’s own wife was hesitant on the decision. She brought up the good point that a lot of parents drop their kids off at school on the way to work, which would create difficulties in their schedules.
Statewide, there are currently over three million public middle and high school students. According to the Center for Disease and Control, the averaged start time for these schools is around 8:07 am.
Sd25.senate.ca.gov reports that later school start times would help benefit their funding as it is tied to attendance. If the current attendance rate improved by even just 1 percent would help the district gain an additional $40 million in funding each year.