It’s too early to move all California middle and high schools to a later start

If Gov. Jerry Brown is sincere about empowering local school districts rather than dictating the minutiae of their operations at the state level, he will veto Senate Bill 328. The bill to make schools start later in the morning was an overreach when it was introduced by Sen. Anthony Portantino (D-La Cañada Flintridge) last year, and though it has been scaled back a bit, its inherent problems remain.

SB 328 would require all public middle and high schools to start no earlier than 8:30 a.m., with exemptions for rural schools and for so-called zero periods before the start of the regular school day. More than three-fourths of California middle and high schools start classes earlier than 8:30, or at least they did in 2011-2012, a federal analysis found.

Studies have found several benefits to a later start. Better sleep for teenagers is associated with improved mood, higher academic achievement and reduced rates of drinking and drug use. Later start times have the endorsement of the American Academy of Pediatrics.

But there could be some real drawbacks as well. For parents with traditional working hours, getting the kids to school later could make it nearly impossible to report for work on time. Athletics and other extracurriculars would shift later into the day, meaning that during late fall and winter, more students would be coming home in the dark. They would be getting a later start on homework, too. Click here to read more: