California Governor Vetoes Bill for Later School Start Times


Irvington student opinions on whether school should start after 8:30 AM

Nikoo Alizadeh, Staff Writer

On Sept. 20, 2018, Governor Brown vetoed a bill that favored pushing California school start times after 8:30. Bill 328, which was proposed by Senator Portantino, specifies that middle schools and high schools in California, excluding schools in rural areas, would have to start no earlier that 8:30 AM every morning, disregarding zero periods and class periods after school.

This bill was proposed in response to what organizations like the Center of Disease Control (CDC) and American Medical Association (AMA) have reported as several detrimental biological and emotional effects of sleep deprivation on adolescents. According to a report released by the CDC, during the 2011-2012 school year, 78.8 percent of all schools in California started before 8:30 AM. Many organizations such as the Stanford University School of Medicine, Department of Pediatrics and the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, as well as several school districts, supported the passing of this bill while the California School Boards Association and California Teachers Association opposed it.

This bill has sparked a great deal of debate among adults, administration, and teenagers about the importance of sleep in relation to quality of education and later start times. The most common argument in favor of the bill is that students will be able to get more sleep in the morning. A poll conducted by The Voice shows that the majority of students get an average of 5-6 hours of sleep on school nights; however, according to the National Sleep Foundation, teenagers should be getting between 8-10 hours of sleep every night.

Students gave a variety of responses as to why they believe school should start later as well as why the school starting time should not change. Some students mentioned that a change would allow them to get more sleep, which would in turn improve their performance in school. To compensate for staying up late finishing homework or projects, waking up at least half an hour earlier would allow them to be more alert during other classes. Others, however, have after school activities which would have to be pushed back due to the shift in school times. Also, since students would arrive home later, they would have to sleep later in order to complete their work. Many students have also mentioned that only a half an hour increase would not be of any benefit to them.

“It’s just a thirty minute increase,” said Kaitlyn Chen (10). “It’s not much of a difference. It doesn’t make sense to make such a small adjustment when it’s not going to make a big change on [students’] focus.”

Another issue that students are concerned about if school starts later is that many parents are unable to drop their kids off at a later time. Although many students walk, drive themselves, or take the bus to school, a huge percentage of the students are driven to school by their parents, who would have to drop their kids off much earlier due to conflicting schedules.

“A lot of kids are here [at Irvington] early anyway because their parents drop them off before work, so parents are still going to be dropping their kids off on their way to work and they’re going to be here for two and a half hours with no supervision” said IHS English teacher Mrs. Marsella-Jensen.

Both students and parents are divided on this topic as it mostly depends on the circumstance of the parents and if a student is even able to utilize the change in school start time.

After the governor’s veto on the 20th, people are currently awaiting the Senate to look over the bill and if the Legislature votes in favor of it becoming a law, they will override it.