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Proposed Bill Mandating School Start “No Earlier than 8:30” for Middle Schools, High Schools Endorsed by Pediatricians

April 10, 2017

A professional organization representing California pediatricians has endorsed Senate Bill 328, proposed legislation that was introduced at the beginning of this year by California State Senator Anthony Portantino (D - La Cañada/Flintridge). The American Academy of Pediatrics, California (AAPCA), representing over 5,000 California pediatricians, announced in a March 14 letter that they strongly support SB 328, which will require that the school day for middle and high schools start no earlier than 8:30 a.m.

“I am extremely thankful to have garnered the support of such a respected organization of health professionals whose livelihood and mission are to care for our children’s wellbeing. Science and medicine are on our side and I’m hoping that my colleagues embrace an exciting and results-based proposal to help our children better succeed in school and have good health doing it,” commented Senator Portantino.

Dr. Nancy Graff, writing on behalf of the American Academy of Pediatrics, California, said in the letter endorsing Portantino’s bill:

The American Academy of Pediatrics, California (AAP-CA), representing over 5,000 California pediatricians, strongly supports your proposed legislation SB 328 (Portantino). This bill would require that the school day for middle and high schools start no earlier than 8:30 a.m.

According to the National Sleep Foundation, nearly 3 in 5 middle schoolers, and almost 9 in 10 high school students, do not get enough sleep every night. While many factors contribute to this, “the evidence strongly suggests that a too-early start to the school day is a critical contributor to chronic sleep deprivation among American adolescents,” according to the AAP press release “Let Them Sleep: AAP Recommends Delaying Start Times of Middle and High Schools to Combat Teen Sleep Deprivation.”

Due to hormonal changes, most teenagers naturally fall asleep later than younger children and older adults, and rise later as well – unless their sleep is interrupted by a 6 a.m. alarm, in which case they will go to school poorly rested. This has serious health effects: chronic sleep deprivation has been linked to conditions such as depression, weight gain, irritability, inattentiveness, academic difficulties, and more. Many older teens who drive themselves to school also wind up “driving drowsy,” which can be as dangerous as driving under the influence of alcohol.

This is a public health issue that deserves a serious, immediate response. Luckily, unlike many public health issues, it has a simple and obvious fix: start school later. Studies have shown that when school starts later, teens generally use the extra time to sleep. This is why AAP policy holds that “middle and high schools should aim for a starting time of no earlier than 8:30 AM,” which is exactly what SB 328 (Portantino) requires.

Pediatricians strongly support SB 328 (Portantino). We thank you for your public service and for your leadership on behalf of the health and well-being of children, youth, and families in California.

Sources:  Office of Sen. Anthony Portantino; American Academy of Pediatrics, California



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