California school start times bill vetoed by Governor


Photo by: Kai Eigenhuis

Kai Eigenhuis

It’s safe to say that almost all of us know at least one person that complains about waking up at the crack of dawn for school. Unfortunately for them, Governor Jerry Brown vetoed a bill that would have made schools start no earlier than 8:30 a.m.

Gov. Jerry Brown vetoed this bill, and now Californians will never see whether this solution would have been for better or for worse in the year 2021.

Last year, the bill failed after the California Teachers Association started a campaign against it, because of the burden that would be placed on the working family, but on Aug. 24, the bill cleared the Senate with a vote of 23-13. Later that day, it cleared the Assembly with the 41 minimum votes needed.

Sleep advocates said that this bill would be a win, because it allows for even more space for students to grow and develop, while having the energy they need to learn. Many opposed the bill due in part to a possible resulting increase in local expenses for school districts, especially those that rely on staggering start times for their bus schedule. Additionally, they questioned how students with parents who work early morning shifts will get to school — especially younger, elementary schoolers.

Photo by: Kai Eigenhuis

Justin Weber, government and history teacher at Ventura High School, had this to say about the possible changes: “I approve [of] that bill. I’ve heard and read studies where they look at teenager and young kids, and their brains. Their brains actually function better if you were to start at a later time. Teenagers also tend to stay up later at night, so it’s hard to get up. I’m also not a morning person, but for all those reasons I think it’s better for the kids biologically.”

A study from Oxford University Press’ SLEEP found that with later school start times, contributors who tracked their nightly sleep schedule to be at least eight hours on weeknights increased from 6.9 to 16 percent. After nine months of thorough study and dedication, SLEEP found that the average total sleep time had increased by ten minutes.

Photo by: Kai Eigenhuis

When asked about the bill, VHS english teacher Jay Locher stated, “Some of the concerns I have with that is how do you handle transportation? I mean, considering buses getting kids to school and all of that. The interesting point that got me thinking, a socio-economic one, is if you start school later, but parents start work at 7:30 a.m., they’re still going to drop those kids off early. It’s interesting that the state is trying to solve this problem because students need more sleep, and I understand that there is research looking at melatonin releases in teens and that teens should sleep later in the morning… I think it’s one of those good intentions, but maybe not having been thinking through all the variables.”

However, Governor Brown leaves office in January of next year, and we don’t know who his successor will be, or where they will stand on the issue. So, those who support this bill won’t have to lose sleep… just yet.