California High Schools Starting Later

Brooklyn Stevenson, Staff writer

By July 1st, 2022, California high schools must start at 8:30 am. This bill was passed in 2019 by Governor Gavin Newsom. The bill was vetoed by previous California Governor Jerry Brown stating, “… start times should be a local decision.” The bill was written again by Democratic state senator Anthony J. Portantino, who hopes this law will decrease sleep deprivation in teenagers and improve attendance. While sleep deprivation and multiple tardies across schools are a huge problem, this law will not provide much benefits and only provide problems.

Many health officials believe schools starting later will allow students to receive the proper amounts of sleep; however, many of these health officials do not take into account an average student’s schedule. With schools starting at 8:30 am, they would have to end at 3:00 or 3:40 pm inorder to fulfill the required school hours. A student may be involved with an afterschool sport that lasts 1 ½ to 2 hours, finally being able to go home at around 5:10 or 5:40 pm. Returning home the student may need an hour and a half to eat and shower then start their homework at around 7:10 pm. From the Washingtong Post, on average, high schools assign 2-3 hours of homework, sometimes even more if taking a rigorous course. Finally, ending their day around 9:10 or 10:10 pm, if not later. Teens will be very exhausted by the time their day ends, providing little to no time to have some time for themselves or socialization. This can tax a student’s mental health and physical exhaustion, ruining the goal of well-rested students.

Some parents may also rely on their older children to look after their younger siblings after school, however since schools will be dismissed later in the day, these parents may face a problem. One would think childcare or a caregiver would solve this problem, however the average cost of daycare in California costs $8,400 per year according to the California Department of Education (CDE) and a caregiver’s average hourly rate costs around $17.29 per hour, according to Nannylane. Those with low income, which is about six million families, cannot afford these costly amounts.  Parents cannot leave their younger children unattended as they cannot care for themselves properly and older siblings are the most available caregiver for these young children. If the government could come up with a cost-effective solution for young children with older siblings still in school, then later dismissal times would not be a big issue. However, one could only dream of that scenario and in reality young children now have to worry about not having an older person to care for them after school. Even the new school start times can be difficult because parents may have to leave for work at these times, making it a struggle to drop their children off at school.

When this law was passed, legislators did not think about these problems that can occur from this new start time. Sleep deprivation amongst teens is a huge problem and needs to be aided, but startimes may not be the problem to be focused on and instead focus more on homework loads causing teens to stay up late or even sleep disorders caused from stress. Hopefully once this law is in full effect there will not be too much of a disaster.