Should students start school later in the day? As CalMatters explains, California is debating a bill that would mandate later school start times for adolescents.
Research shows two-thirds of adolescents aren’t getting enough sleep and that the consequences are far-reaching. The onset of puberty triggers changes in the body’s circadian rhythms, and the result, notes the National Sleep Foundation, is that that the typical high schooler’s natural time to fall asleep shifts to 11:00 p.m. or later. Sleepy teens are more likely to slip into depression or use drugs and less likely to graduate from high school.
But there’s disagreement on the best way to address the problem.
Some observers say parents need to buckle down and impose stricter bedtimes, while others, like the American Academy of Pediatrics, point to a “substantial body of research” showing that later school start times alone can reverse the negative effects of sleep deprivation among teens.
Currently, California schools are free to begin the school day whenever they’d like, and only one in five middle and high schools start as late as Portantino’s bill would require. Many also host sports practices and offer “zero period” classes before the school day technically begins, although the bill would not prohibit these early options.
Opponents such as the California School Boards Association say SB 328 would wreak havoc on working parents’ schedules and cause districts’ transportation costs to skyrocket.
Still, Portantino says he’s siding with science and calls the proposal a response to a “public health crisis” that California shouldn’t ignore.
Read more at www.calmatters.org