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California Law Requires an 8:30am or later Start Time for High Schools this Fall

As research increasingly suggests the multiple benefits of delaying school start times for teens, California's landmark legislation is encouraging other states to do the same.
California Law Requires an 8:30am or later Start Time for High Schools this Fall

A landmark California law requiring high schools to start at 8:30am or later is jump-starting similar efforts nationwide after years of intense debate over schools' starting bells, reports Axios.

Most teens don't get enough sleep — yet school start times are a hot-button political issue that divide communities, pitting teachers, parents, bus drivers, and administrators against one another.

California's law is "game-changing and empowering," and getting it signed was "no mean feat," said Terra Ziporyn Snider, co-founder and executive director of Start School Later, a non-profit organization dedicated to healthy, safe, equitable school hours

California's crack-of-dawn school ban could set a national trend (Axios)

Excerpt from Axios: Pediatricians say teens need 8.5 to 9.5 hours of sleep a night, and that starting school before 8:30am is a public health issue. Opponents say school schedules should be decided locally — not by the state — and that a web of considerations, from transportation to after-school sports schedules, favor earlier starts. California's law also helped spawn similar legislation in New York and New Jersey. Advocates for later school start times point to a growing body of scientific research showing the benefits of delaying school until 8:30 or later: Better academic performance, higher graduation rates, happier and healthier students, lower substance abuse rates, less tardiness/absenteeism, and less drowsy driving
Wake Up Calls (Fast Facts) from Start School Later, Inc.
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According to the Associated Press, beginning this fall high schools in the nation’s most populous state can’t start before 8:30 a.m. and middle schools can’t start before 8 a.m. under a 2019 first-in-the-nation law forbidding earlier start times.

"We know that teenagers are the most sleep-deprived age group, and the cause is our own public policy," said Joy Wake, who helped lead the efforts of the "Start School Later" group in California.

California late start law aims to make school less of a yawn (Associated Press)

Excerpt from the Associated Press:  Advocates say teens do better on school work when they’re more alert, and predict even broader effects: a reduction in suicides and teen car accidents and improved physical and mental health. That’s too early for adolescents whose bodies are wired to stay up later than at other ages because of a later release of the sleep hormone melatonin, scientists say. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that middle and high schools start at 8:30 a.m. or later. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends eight–10 hours of sleep per night for 13- to 18-year-olds.
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Sleep loss is such a common problem that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has declared it a public health epidemic. It can be the result of insomnia, when you can’t fall asleep despite having the chance to do so, or sleep deprivation, when your schedule robs you of the opportunity, writes Vox.

We’re battling a sleep loss epidemic. California has a plan to fight it. (Vox)

Excerpt from Vox: Columbia University researchers say teenagers in particular are in the midst of a "Great Sleep Recession." The share of American adolescents who get sufficient sleep has plummeted over the years. Adults aren’t doing much better: We need at least seven hours of sleep a night, but only 35 percent of Americans report sleeping between seven and nine hours on average, according to Gallup’s State of Sleep in America 2022 Report. Sleep loss is a huge problem because it may increase our risk for diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity, and even early death. It can also cause a lot of emotional suffering, from loneliness to anxiety. Plus, low-income people and racial minorities get less sleep than others, which makes this an equality issue as well as a health issue.
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