Legislating a Later Start

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West High’s Clock Tower. Photo by Robby Trammell.

Robby Trammell, Video Production Editor

In the beginning of October this year, our state governor, Gavin Newsom, signed Senate Bill 328. This legislation forces all high schools to start no earlier than 8:30 a.m. and middle schools no later than 8 a.m.. Schools have until July 1, 2022 to implement new schedules. The bill was written by Senator Anthony Portantino, who claims that pushing school start times will allow students to get more sleep. Portantino cites studies that show teens are more engaged later in the day. However, starting school later means that it will also end later which leads to less time for some students to get homework done, especially those who have commitments after school.

The California Teachers Association came out against the bill, saying lower income families would struggle with finding childcare and students would be disadvantaged in finding work. School staff members from various California high schools have said Portantino did not reach out to enough of them for their opinion, and schools’ start time is seldom brought up at local board meetings. Parents who commute would also have trouble securing rides to and from school for their kids.

Regardless, Portantino remains optimistic about the bill, hoping it will let teens sleep more. The bill did receive support from both the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the American Academy of Pediatrics; both organizations agreeing it would be highly beneficial for teenagers’ health.