The Myth vs. The Reality

Governor Newsom’s Senate Bill 328 is about to go into effect for the 2022-23 school year, but will good intentions lead to irate students and parents?


Photo courtesy of Tiffany Thompson

The 2022-23 school year will open with a brand new bell schedule designed to get teenagers more rest, but will this actually happen?

Tiffany Thompson, Staff Writer

STOCKTON: Governor Newsom, along with 79 other state legislators, voted for Senate Bill 328 which would prohibit public middle and high schools from starting school no earlier than 8:30 AM. This bill became law on January 1, 2020, and it officially goes into effect on July 1, 2022. This controversial piece of legislation pushes back the opening of a school day to 8:30 AM. In truth, there is plenty of research data that shows teenager’s developing brains would benefit from averaging 8.5 to 9.5 hours of sleep per night. A teenagers circadian rhythm shift does make it harder for a teenager to fall asleep. (A normal teenager is not “sleepy” until 11:00 PM). Lack of sleep is the #1 risk factor in teenagers being more susceptible to depression, anxiety, obesity, and substance abuse. Our state law makers believe that starting school at 8:30 AM is the best way to solve these teenager issues by providing enough time to get said rest. However, did our legislature take the time to examine the exact ramifications of what could happen to a high school student’s day by starting school one hour later? If school starts at 8:30 AM (which is one hour later than normal), then only solid logic will tell you that the end of the day will occur one hour later as well. How many excited teenagers and parents will you have when the final bell for the day rings at 4:00 PM? What happens to all of the educational opportunities that are offered during a school’s “zero” period? (These are normally additional academic classes that are held one hour prior to the official opening of the school day). What happens to the music programs, the theater and drama productions, USB and club participation, and let’s not forget about high school athletics? Are we signing ourselves up to be on campus until 6:00 or 7:00 PM? Finally, what about members of our student body that are counted on to be child care providers for their siblings? Or, those Trojan students that need a part-time job to help with family expenditures? How much rest will you need to survive this long of a day? And, what guarantee does our state legislature have that every single teenager in California will be safely tucked in bed by 11:00 PM?

This complete upheaval of our learning day has dramatic consequences for our bus drivers, cafeteria workers, campus supervisors, school nurses and psychologists, counselors and librarians. There is not one single affiliated group of a high school’s personnel team that would not be affected by an 8:30 AM start time. And, the ultimate team member in this conversation that has not been represented are our parents. Did the California legislature make plans with all of California’s employers to let them know that our parents would be arriving to their jobs each day an hour later? Parents that have mandatory work start times of 7:30 AM, 8:00 AM, 8:30 AM, and 9:00 AM use our regular school bell schedule as a way to safely drop off their students at a school site that is open and fully staffed. The possibility exists that when school starts this August a student could be alone on campus for 30 to 60 minutes unsupervised. How can this possibly make any sense? The truth is it doesn’t. Back on September 18, 2018, Governor Jerry Brown vetoed State Senator Mr. Portantino’s bill (SB328) by saying, “This is a one-size-fits-all approach that is opposed by teachers and school boards. Several schools have already moved to later start times. Others prefer beginning the school day earlier. These are the types of decisions best handled in the local community.” Governor Brown displayed wisdom in his decision. Ironically, with Newsom’s children attending private school SB328 will not affect their school day because private schools are not required to comply.

I interviewed several Lincoln High School juniors, and I asked them how they believe the implementation of SB328 will affect them as an individual. Here are their comments:

“I think the new start time will affect me greatly because I have a parent who goes to work every day early in the morning, and sometimes I have to walk to school. Getting out later will also affect my time for homework, so no matter what I will be up later getting my work done. I also participate in a lot of extracurricular activities so I feel like it (SB328) would affect me in a negative way.”

Elizabeth Coss-Garcia (Class of 2023)

“I think it (SB328) will affect me in a negative way just because I do most of my extracurricular activities after school. Getting home later will interfere with all of the homework I already have to complete.”

Zek Whales (Class of 2023)

“I feel like I might start out fresher in the morning because I will have gotten a better night’s sleep so I can focus more during the school day, but ending the day later probably means I end the day more exhausted.”

Dexter Zindel (Class of 2023)

My prediction is complete disaster, if this legislation is actually put in place for our upcoming school year. I predict later arrival times in getting home from practice (band, sports, or drama), later start times for dinner, later start times for beginning homework, and finally later bedtimes. We will actually be creating a more exhausted high school student, not a more rested one.