California mandates later start times for middle and high school students
Key groups oppose Gov. Newsom's signing of the bill delaying start times for adolescents and teens
OCTOBER 13, 2019
CREDIT: CHEZ_SUGI, CREATIVE COMMONS
Gov. Gavin Newsom signed legislation Sunday that will mandate a later morning start for most middle and high schools, choosing to side with pediatricians and the PTA rather than the state’s leading teachers union and groups representing school boards and superintendents.
The bill’s author said California will now become the first state to require later start times in response to medical research that shows most teens are sleep deprived as a result of changes to their biological clocks that prevent them from going to sleep early.
Senator Anthony Portantino, D-San Fernando, was effusive in praising Newsom for signing a bill that former Gov. Jerry Brown vetoed a year ago. Brown said start times should remain a local decision.
“Today, Governor Newsom displayed a heartwarming and discerning understanding of the importance of objective research and exercised strong leadership as he put our children’s health and welfare ahead of institutional bureaucracy resistant to change,” Portantino said in a statement. “Generations of children will come to appreciate this historic day and our Governor for taking bold action.”
Expressing disappointment, the California School Boards Association said the mandate “fails to respect parental decisions or consider the needs of local communities.” The research on later start times is inconclusive but the impact on families can be predicted, said spokesman Troy Flint. The bill “will disproportionately affect low-income families and prevent many students from working after school or from caring for their siblings,” he said, adding it could increase the need for childcare for “already cash-strapped families.”