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Brown Vetoes Bills Involving Later School Start Time, Suspension Ban and Standardized Testing

October 3, 2018

In a flurry of activity during late September and early October, Governor Jerry Brown signed scores of bills. But he also vetoed a number of bills as well, including three that are of interest to K-12 educators:

Brown Vetoes Later Start Time for Middle School, High School Students

Gov. Jerry Brown vetoed a bill on September 20 requiring that California middle and high schools start no earlier than 8:30 a.m., saying the decision of when to start classes should be up to schools not the state.

Supporters of the bill cited research that says delaying school start times could result in better grades, attendance and graduation rates.

A study by the American Academy of Pediatrics said insufficient sleep for teens was “an important public health issue that significantly affects the health and safety” of adolescents.

State Assemblyman Anthony Portantino, who carried SB328, cited that study and one by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that both suggested schools start at 8:30 a.m. or later to help students get the optimal amount of sleep of at least eight hours a night.

Middle and high schools in California start their school day on average at 8:07 a.m., according to the CDC study.

“The combination of delayed bedtimes and early school start times results in inadequate sleep for a large portion of the adolescent population,” said the CDC study. It found that approximately 70 percent of high-schoolers do not get sufficient sleep.

Opponents of the bill don’t dispute the research but said school boards should decide how to run their schools, which Brown agreed with.

“This is a one-size-fits-all approach that is opposed by teachers and school boards,” Brown said in a statement Thursday, noting that several schools have already moved to later start times while others prefer to start the school day earlier. “These are the types of decisions best handled in the local community.”

Brown’s veto of the Later Start bill earned a scalding rebuke in the form of an editorial by the San Diego Union-Tribune, which said, “This is shameful. The same governor who rails against critics of his climate-change policies for ignoring massive scientific evidence is now himself ignoring massive scientific evidence. For one of decades of examples, in 2014, an American Academy of Pediatrics study documented that 59 percent of middle school students and 87 percent of high school students slept less than the 8.5 to 9.5 hours recommended by doctors on school nights. A lack of sleep correlates with a long list of negatives — starting with poor academic performance and higher rates of drug use, obesity, depression and automobile accidents. When high schools in Connecticut, Kentucky and Virginia adopted later start times, they saw test scores go higher and attendance improve.”

Brown Vetoes Bill Banning Suspensions for “Willful Defiance”

Brown also vetoed a bill banning suspension or possible expulsion of students as young as third grade for behavior deemed to be “willful defiance.”

“Teachers and principals are on the front lines educating our children and are in the best position to make decisions about order and discipline in the classroom,” Brown wrote in a message on September 30.

SB 607, authored by state Sen. Nancy Skinner, D-Berkeley, had originally called for expanding the suspension ban to include all grades, K-12. But Skinner agreed to take the high school grades out in order to gain the support of the Association of California School Administrators and the California School Boards Association.

Brown Vetoes Bill Allowing Substitution of SAT or ACT for CAASPP in 11th Grade

Brown vetoed legislation on September 28 that would give school districts the option of replacing the state’s 11th-grade standardized test with the college admissions tests, the SAT or the ACT.

Assemblyman Patrick O’Donnell, D-Long Beach, who chairs the Assembly Education Committee, said he would reintroduce Assembly Bill 1951, which he authored, next year, under a new governor.

Many of the districts already offer either the SAT or ACT, or both, at district expense, to all juniors as a way to encourage more students to pursue college. They say having 11th grade students do the six-hour Smarter Balanced CAASPP tests is duplicative and students largely view them as personally irrelevant.

In his three-paragraph veto message, Brown suggested that the University of California and California State University use the Smarter Balanced test as an admissions test instead of the ACT or SAT.


Source: Los Angeles Times, San Diego Union-Tribune, Governor’s Press Office, EdBrief staff

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