On October 13, California became the first state to mandate later school start times after California Governor Gavin Newsom signed the late start bill into law. The new law will require most public middle schools to start no earlier than 8:00 AM, and high schools no earlier than 8:30 AM.
The later start time is intended to improve the academic performance of teenagers. The results of multiple scientific studies prove that the circadian rhythm of teenagers is different from that of adults.
“The science shows that teenage students who start their day later increase their academic performance, attendance, and overall health,” Newsom said in a statement.
LCHS student Tigerlily Biskup (12) cited the same reason for supporting the change.
“It has a scientific basis because melatonin isn’t produced in teenagers until later (than adults), so it makes more sense to start later,” Tiger said.
Despite the many potential benefits of a later start time, the law is not without critics. Some oppose the law on the grounds that society may not accept and adapt to the change. Others worry about the inevitable schedule conflict with parents’ work times. Furthermore, some students, especially student athletes, believe that the reform would affect their ability to continue after school extracurriculars and detract from their time to complete assignments.
However, some student athletes at LCHS testify to the benefits of late start, especially those who have zero-period sports.
“I think it’s better because I got more sleep when I was in zero period swim last year. I think it’s good for athletes who have zero period (sports),” said Isabel Anderson (10).
LCUSD implemented a later start time in the 2017-2018 school year to generally positive reception among middle school and high school students.
“It’s honestly so much better,” said LCHS student Simone Badaruddin (12).
Tiennity Le (10) agreed, “Late start is good because our brain function in the morning is better than it might be at 7am. I think it’s a good thing that the bill has been signed and will be put into effect.”
State Senator Anthony Portantino, who represents La Canada Flintridge, wrote the California bill after LCUSD’s successful transition.
“Everybody is looking for a magic bullet with education, one that cuts across all demographics, all ethnicities and that actually has a positive, measurable increase in test scores, attendance and graduation rates without costing money,” Portantino stated in an interview with the New York Times. “And this is it.”