CALmatters columnist Dan Walters minces no words in his latest column titled “Legislature muffs a chance to improve the lives of our children.”
Writes Walters: “California legislators had a rare opportunity this year to make a significant improvement in the lives of millions of children at little or no cost – and they muffed it.
Senate Bill 328, which would prohibit California’s middle and high schools from beginning classes before 8:30 a.m., passed the Senate but was overwhelmingly rejected by the Assembly just before it adjourned this month for the year.”
Walters additionally opines that “it was a win for the California School Boards Association and the California Teachers Association, which opposed the bill as an incursion on local control, but it was a big loss for kids.
“Every medical authority, including the Center for Pediatric Sleep Disorders, the American Academy of Pediatrics and Stanford’s Center for Sleep Sciences and Medicine, believes that starting classes too early conflicts with the natural circadian rhythms of adolescents.”
Rand Corporation Findings
In addition, the Rand Corporation reports that “numerous studies have shown that later school start times are associated with positive student outcomes, including improvements in academic performance, mental and physical health, and public safety.”
Here are Rand’s key findings:
- The study suggested that delaying school start times to 8:30 a.m. is a cost-effective, population-level strategy which could have a significant impact on public health and the U.S. economy.
- The study suggested that the benefits of later start times far out-weigh the immediate costs. Even after just two years, the study projects an economic gain of $8.6 billion to the U.S. economy. This would outweigh the costs per student from delaying school start times to 8:30 a.m.
- After a decade, the study showed that delaying schools start times would contribute $83 billion to the U.S. economy. The increase would swell to $140 billion after 15 years. During the 15 years examined by the study, the average annual gain to the U.S. economy would be $9.3 billion each year.
- Throughout the study’s cost-benefit projections, a conservative approach was undertaken. This approach did not include other effects from insufficient sleep, such as higher suicide rates, increased obesity and mental health issues. That’s because all of these effects are difficult to quantify precisely. Therefore, it is likely that the reported economic benefits from delaying school start times could be even higher across many U.S. states.
You can read the full Rand report here.