Late start through rose-colored glasses

Late starts will make it more difficult for students and parents in the future

Sleep deprivation in students isn’t a new thing. Throughout the halls, it’s common to hear people talking about the three hours of sleep they got, the all-nighter they pulled, or how they missed a lecture in class after dozing off. 

California is making a move to address sleep deprivation. One of Governor Newsom’s latest bills will push back start times starting July 2022, with middle school start times no earlier than 8:00 am, and high school start times no earlier than 8:30. Though those who helped pass the bill mean well, it still won’t make much of a difference for students and families. 

As a student enrolled in three AP’s, journalism, and the marching band I completely understand what it is like to run off of three hours of sleep a night or less for days or weeks at a time. 

So, of course, hearing about Newsom’s new bill made my ears perk up. The idea of getting to wake up later sounds nice, but the more I thought about it, the less helpful it seemed because it sounds as though our days will simply be pushed back to end  later. 

Looking at current start times, the bill really doesn’t do much. Given that Adams starts at 8:05 a.m. and Parras starts at 8:00 p.m., the effects of the bill won’t mean any significant change for middle schoolers in our area. For Redondo students, our first period already starts at 7:55 a.m., and although a delay of 35 minutes is comforting in theory, again there’s no real change.  

In reality, it isn’t like we’ll be getting an extra 35 minutes of sleep. It’s not difficult to understand that pushing back the start time will also push back the end time. A 35 minute later start time will likely translate into a 35 minute later end time. If anything, the new bill ensures the delay of extracurriculars by 35 minutes and a later bedtime, rather than a good night’s rest.

Although the bill attempts to take students into account, it neglects the very people students depend on: Parents. In an attempt to give us more sleep, parents will lose theirs trying to effectively drop off and pick up their kids at later times. 

At the moment,my mother is unable to make any meeting earlier that 9:00 a.m. Unfortunately not unique to her experience, other parents alike may also be unable to make it to meetings earlier than 9:30 a.m. once the bill takes effect. 

Lucky enough for my mother, she sometimes has the ability to call into her meetings. For other parents who can’t simply call into work, however, this later start time can pose a real issue. 

With the average work day starting around 8:00 a.m., parents who are unable to start work any later will either end up dropping their kids off at the same time they do now, rendering the late start practically useless for those students, or send their kids on the bus which already over crowded with students and people trying to get to work. 

Not only will we be forced to wake up early, but the fact that we are forced to sit through eight hour or longer  school days, followed by many hours of homework and extracurriculars and only a few hours of sleep. 

While the bill attempts to address teens sleep-wake cycle, which is later than adults, and tries to get us back on track with our bodies natural cycles, it fails to address the little sleep teens are getting. 

Simply waking up about 30 minutes later is not going to magically help defeat sleep deprivation. In order to truly fix this issue, students need late start times accompanied by longer periods of sleep closer the the 9 ¼ hours experts say we need. 

It is hard to believe such a small change is worth the consequences. It’s also hard to believe that the system we currently have in place was so burdening on students that it needed to be changed.