Pushing for a later start time

A state senator introduced a bill proposing that California schools start later in the morning.

Emily Jacobsson, A&E Editor

High school students may soon be enjoying a few extra minutes of sleep. A new bill proposed by state senator Anthony Portantino is a blessing to students who struggle to wake up early enough for school.

Introduced on Feb. 13, Senate Bill 328 would prohibit California middle and high schools from beginning the school day earlier that 8:30 a.m. Portantino believes that doing so will improve the quality of education and welfare for students, according to his news release.

“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,” Portantino said when introducing his bill.

Portantino supports his bill using a 2014 statement from the American Academy of Pediatrics, which advised school districts to adopt the same starting time proposed in the bill. The statement claims that early start times are a “critical contributor to chronic sleep deprivation among American adolescents” and moving the start time to 8:30 a.m. will “align school schedules to the biological sleep rhythms of adolescents.”

He also cites studies by the American Psychological Association, which indicated that districts with later starting times saw higher attendance rates, grade point averages and college admission test scores. They also found a decrease in student-involved car accidents as well as the amount of students that were sleeping in class.

Because school funding is tied to attendance, Portantino believes that starting the school day later would lead to financial gain for school districts. Even if the new policy only increases attendance by 1 percent, districts would gain $40 million, according to the release.

“The real question is whether students will just stay up half an hour later, not resulting in any real change, or if they will get more sleep,” Diamond Bar High School biology teacher Eric Sorenson said.