Portantino pushes to pass Senate Bill 328, which would enforce all California public high schools and middle schools to start classes no earlier than 8:30. Photo credit to Fatherly
Crescenta Valley High School

A state bill that would make schools start later was rejected

Starting this year, La Cañada High School (LCHS) began class 30 minutes later than other schools within its area: at 8:30 a.m. This change in schedule has been implemented by Senator Anthony Portantino, a Democrat in La Cañada Flintridge.

Portantino pushed to pass Senate Bill 328, which would enforce all California public high schools and middle schools to start classes no earlier than 8:30 a.m. He argued for the scientific benefits of beginning school later, which included reduction of student automobile accidents, obesity, depression, poor school performance, and cardiovascular problems.

“The AASM (American Academy of Sleep Medicine) recommends that teenagers should sleep eight to ten hours a night. But according to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), almost 70% of high-school students report sleeping seven hours or less on a regular basis,” Amanda MacMillan of Times Magazine said.

Despite this meaning that school ends at 3:14 p.m. rather than 3 p.m., many students within LCHS favored beginning school later and noticed a boost in their energy and attitude following the schedule change.

However, on Sept. 14, California State Legislature disregarded the possible positive effects of beginning school later and rejected Senate Bill 328, a decision supported by the California School Board Association.

California School Board Association argued that the bill would result in hardship for working families who do not have flexible work schedules and thus an increase in demand for supervision before school. They also argued that creating a “one size fits all” school time for all 3,000 secondary schools within the state is unreasonable, and pushed for local school boards to rule bell time.

“I’m surprised (with the vote in the Assembly) given the science behind this is peer-reviewed and solid,” Portantino said in San Francisco Chronicle.

However, Portantino announced that he plans to revisit this bill in January of 2018, stating that it would benefit the students’ mentality and academic attitudes.

If passed, the law would be implemented in July of 2020.

1 Comment

  • Reply Douglas Campbell October 30, 2017 at 6:46 am

    I submit that more school hours is what’s needed. My high school day started at 7:30AM and went until 2:30PM, after which, because I was an athlete, I practiced my skills until 6PM or later. So, the school day went for about 10.5 hours, not counting the time to walk to school and walk home — about 45 mins each way. I thrived in such an environment, but I certainly can see that there are those who would not.

    So, if a long school day isn’t the right thing, according to the scientists, perhaps the hours have to be obtained a different way. I suggest that the proper way is the elimination of summer vacation. Summer vacation is founded on the premise that for part of the year, the brain should lay fallow. This practice arose from the manner in which western agriculture — in particular, wheat growing — has been practiced. Unlike in the rice-growing regions of the orient, we do not grow our crops year round, and, in fact, due to the kind of agriculture of the west, we must allow fields to lay fallow,. Well, what works for agriculture doesn’t work for the brain, as the high achieving Chinese schools have shown. Studies here (such as the KIPP Academies) have shown that poor students — those students of lesser means — lose capability as a group during the summer, because there are fewer educational opportunities available to them during that time. Wealthier students, on the other hand, have such things as books in the home, trips to educational places, vacations to far off lands, etc. to improve their skills during the summer. So, one way to assure that both groups attain the same education — and that the education of the poor is not stilted — is to have year around instruction. This would certainly allow shortening of the school day without any decrease in school hours. But good luck attaining that; the wealthy who would prefer their vacations and the teachers unions — both would stand in the way of any attempt to lengthen the school year (most teachers have second jobs during the summer which would not be possible without the vacation, and remember, a teachers union is not for the students — it is for the teachers).


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