Patterico's Pontifications

10/16/2019

California Democrats Micromanage School Start Times

Filed under: General — JVW @ 2:06 pm



[guest post by JVW]

Barely more than one year ago today I put up a post congratulating lame-duck California Governor Jerry Brown for sensibly vetoing a bill which limited the ability of California schools to start classes prior to 8:30 am. Here was my comment back then:

Heaven forbid that local school districts make decisions based upon the needs of their own families, rather than the legislature imposing a one-size-fits-all solution. This is what it’s like living in California in 2018. Now that the problems of homelessness, pensions, unaffordable housing, poverty, and crumbling infrastructure have been solved, the legislature can start micromanaging morning start times for sleepy teenagers.

You might want to sit down before reading this, but the legislature came back with the same bill this year and new governor Gavin Newsom, who never met a problem that he didn’t think a government program or regulation could solve, has signed it:

Many middle and high schools will have to push back their morning bells after Gov. Gavin Newsom signed legislation Sunday that makes California the first state in the country to require later class start times.

SB328 sets the earliest start times at 8 a.m. for middle schools and 8:30 a.m. for high schools, beginning with the 2022-23 school year.

The change does not apply to rural school districts and excludes optional “zero periods,” when students show up before the regular school day for additional courses or activities.

The one interesting aspect of this bill, which was supported by pediatricians and law enforcement, is that legislative Democrats and the governor have apparently gone against the wishes of the teachers’ unions, one of their staunchest allies, in enacting this measure:

But it was vigorously opposed by associations for school boards, teachers and administrators, which objected to the state intervening in an area that has traditionally been left to local control. They argued that the change would make it more difficult to fit in extracurricular activities, to renegotiate employee contracts and give parents time to get their children to school on the way to work. An analysis by the state Department of Finance found it could cost school districts millions of dollars a year to hire additional bus drivers.

According to a 2015 report from the CDC, almost 80% of high schools in California begin the school day before 8:30 am, so the impact of this new law is going to be significant, even though it doesn’t take effect for another three years. Though I don’t usually ally myself with the dreaded education blob, I’m hoping they sponsor a ballot initiative to overturn this exercise in unwanted meddling. If they do, they will have a supporter in me.

– JVW

57 Responses to “California Democrats Micromanage School Start Times”

  1. My recollection is that my grade school ran from 9:00 am until 3:00 pm; my middle school was 8:30 am until 2:45 pm, and my high school was 8:00 am until 2:30 pm. I think these times were staggered because that allowed parents to drop off their 9th grader, followed by their 7th grader , followed by their 5th grader each morning, and then pick them up in that same order in the afternoon. Or, in some cases, it allowed the older child to pick up the younger child at their school in the afternoon. Under this new configuration, I don’t know that can happen any longer.

    JVW (54fd0b)

  2. And you can show me all of the data that you wish, but I have a really hard time believing that starting the high school day at 8:30 instead of 8:00 am has an appreciable effect on attendance. Maybe starting the day at noon would do the trick, but I doubt that extra half-hour makes any real difference.

    JVW (54fd0b)

  3. 1. I don’t like the idea of staggered start times, but I’m not a parent. When you get right down to it, compulsory government-sponsored education serves just two purposes: a jobs program for teachers and administrators, and free (not really; taxes pay for it, but I digress) babysitting so that latchkey children will only be home alone for a couple of hours instead of 9+.

    Gryph (08c844)

  4. @1. Don’t know, JVW; back in the day we had HS classes starting at 8 AM– and it was Physics, no less. In winter, after DST ended… just awful. Not an encouraging environment for learning. But there were still budgets for school buses– these days, less so- now parents drop the kids off at school on the way to work– so they’ll likely be the biggest squawkers. But, ugh– just remembering trying to learn physics at that early hour still brings a shudder.

    DCSCA (797bc0)

  5. Don’t know, JVW; back in the day we had HS classes starting at 8 AM– and it was Physics, no less. In winter, after DST ended… just awful.

    I don’t know. We had calculus first hour (8:00 am) and the reason for that allegedly was that the science (to use a favorite trope of progressives) said that it was better to learn complex subjects first thing in the morning. You don’t doubt the science, do you? I went through college believing that hard classes were best tackled in the early morning too.

    JVW (54fd0b)

  6. Pfft.

    It’s always a good time to study physics!

    Dave (98c500)

  7. I agree the State has no business meddling in local education.

    I agree starting 30 minutes later isn’t enough to matter.

    I agree this will be a burden on families (and teachers) who already find it hard to fit in work, school and extracurricular activities during the day.

    But:

    It strikes me that this is a solution to “problems” faced by two-parent homes where only one parent works. Under this plan, now the non-working spouse can sleep a little bit later or have a little more time to wake up kids and get them ready. There is no adverse impact on these households because they don’t have scheduling conflicts, except perhaps if the kids go to different schools but that is what carpools and nannies are for. As an added bonus, this makes the moms feel good because they are doing what pediatricians say is better for their children. This is important because some of them object to vaccines — something pediatricians strongly support — so it shows they are not anti-science.

    What amuses me is that this describes normal life when I grew up in the 50s and 60s. Most of us lived this way but changing views found this unfulfilling or anti-feminist. While I’m personally glad we have so many choices for adults, maybe the old ways worked better for children.

    DRJ (15874d)

  8. in my time, they also preached the importance of tackling the hard subjects early in the day. That’s how I ended up dissecting all sorts of slimy things right after breakfast in high school.

    DRJ (15874d)

  9. 7. If by “the old ways,” you mean schools unfettered by government interference, I agree. Public schooling as we understand it today is a 20th-century innovation.

    Gryph (08c844)

  10. As an added bonus, this makes the moms feel good because they are doing what pediatricians say is better for their children.

    That’s a very interesting and perceptive point, DRJ. I might be tempted to look up the votes on this bill to see if female legislators were more likely to vote for this bill than male legislators were. Though I think that like everything else in California, this was passed pretty much on a party-line vote. I do note that this topic came up in passing among one couple I know with a 14-year-old and a 13-year-old currently in school, and mom was all for the change because it’s what the pediatricians said ought to be done. But she’s not an anti-vaxxer or anything like that.

    JVW (54fd0b)

  11. Yes, Gryph. I am old and schools were very different then.

    DRJ (15874d)

  12. It strikes me as almost elitist, JVW. I think blue states are going to have to work harder and harder at keeping elites invested in liberal politics, and throwing them bones like this will become more important.

    DRJ (15874d)

  13. 11. I’m going to go out on a limb here and guess that you’re not *that* old. When I say they’re a 20th-century innovation, I do mean an early 20th-century innovation. Kind of like the IRS and the Federal Reserve. Entire generations of Americans have no idea how we functioned without those as well, but we did just fine. (…and once again, I digress…)

    Gryph (08c844)

  14. My kids start school at 7:30, which is ridiculous — but we’ve sort of adjusted. This not only makes them get up earlier but also go to bed earlier, which puts a crimp on evening activities for both parents and kids.

    That said, I think the state should butt out. Though, they butt in on so many other things it almost doesn’t matter anymore.

    Munroe (53beca)

  15. 14. You’ve heard the old saw about how you boil a frog, haven’t you Munroe? If not, I won’t bother typing it out here. Suffice it to say, it’s a perfect metaphor for what our federal government has been doing to us for the last 119 years.

    Gryph (08c844)

  16. if they are being taught constructivist, non knowledge based curriculum, doesn’t matter when they start school, they will just get ‘thought control’

    narciso (d1f714)

  17. Hard to believe that Gavin Newsom has made Jerry Brown look reasonable. This but one of many issues that Brown either vetoed or had dissuaded legislators from passing. Now that daddy has left, the leftist wish will only make things get worse. To see what that looks like, look at Los Angeles city or county government.

    Rip Murdock (847895)

  18. @5. It’s obviously debatable; some are morning people, some not. Personally found the sciences; geology, chemistry, even trig- to be much more engaging in the light of day– except for astronomy, of course. My own niece- a college engineering student now– suffered some severe sleep issues in HS because of the early classes she had to endure on top of homework assignments and was literally falling asleep in her dinner. The nephew, a genetic engineer now and a totally, wholly ‘night person’, wasn’t bothered at all but slept catlike at odd hours to the point of irritation to his parents. I think this issues has a lot to do w/t drop off times and convenience for working parents.

    DCSCA (797bc0)

  19. My kids start school at 7:30, which is ridiculous — but we’ve sort of adjusted. This not only makes them get up earlier but also go to bed earlier, which puts a crimp on evening activities for both parents and kids.

    Yeah, I mean if your school district decided that the high school kids are best off not starting the school day until 8:30 or even 9:00 then by all means, that’s the sort of decision that we empower school boards to make in consultation with parents, teachers, and members of the community. But for a state of nearly 40 million people to impose a one-size-fits-all solution here is to me completely unwelcome.

    JVW (54fd0b)

  20. 9 to 3 was the routine stateside, from Labor Day to mid-June. Same in Britain when we were there– but then we were set up in Central London w/access to superb mass transit and I’d be literally commuting to and from school along w/t work force in rush hours. When school locations changed and I could walk to it in 20 minutes, it was much less of a hassle. Curiously, though, how the material was taught to us was significantly different there than in the U.S. Our textbooks were the same, but the teachers would ‘get through’ them to the end whereas in the states, they’d often only get half or at best, 2/3rds through. Was fortunate; my HS education was better than what the PS students were getting stateside. But then, we had much, much less ‘extracurricular activities’ as distractions. No Friday night football [no place to purchase equipment] no homecoming festivities and so forth– British schools didn’t have teams to play against, either– though we did try an afternoon of baseball and cricket activities in one of those cultural exchange outings. Chiefly it was just a little basketball and of course, always, soccer. And our holidays were usually filled with education-based travel opportunities set up by the school to Paris, Rome, the USSR and so forth– and very low cost. And of course, none of the students had a cars.

    DCSCA (797bc0)

  21. I think this issues has a lot to do w/t drop off times and convenience for working parents.

    I guess what really bothers me is that I don’t think this decision is really being made with the students in mind, it’s just a typical knee-jerk reaction to the “problem” that some medical professionals have invented — er — discovered, which is allegedly that students are too tired in the morning to drag themselves to school or be effective in the morning hours. If you read the article I linked you hear these doctors say that the average teenager stays up until 11:30 at night to do homework (or, more accurately, screw around on social media) and thus can’t rouse themselves in the morning to show up at 8:00 am. But once you roll that start time back to 8:30, what do you want to bet that the average teenager will just move his or her bedtime back to midnight, so no extra sleep will be gained despite the bill’s intentions? This kind of goes along with previous my California posts in that I can’t believe the degree to which progressives in our state think that complicated matters are easily solved with legislation. Sacramento is just wasting our time any more.

    I’m the antithesis of a morning person, and always have been according to my mother, yet when I was in high school I had to get up at 5:45 am because we had to be in the water for morning swim practice at 6:10 am sharp. And you know how I handled that? I simply learned that I needed to go to bed at 10:00 pm on the nights before morning practice, and I managed to get by with 7.75 hours of sleep even if the doctors insisted that I needed a minimum of 8.5 hours. I find it impossible to believe that today’s teenager can’t make the same adjustment. I don’t have that low an opinion of them (just yet).

    JVW (54fd0b)

  22. JVW (54fd0b) — 10/16/2019 @ 4:47 pm

    JVW, years ago I actually wrote an email to the superintendent about it. At least in our district, it had nothing to do with “empowered school boards”. According to the response I got, it is totally driven by the availability of bus drivers. For whatever reason, they’re always in short supply so the start times have to be staggered and one school (ours) draws the short stick. (BTW, our kids walk to school.). Anyway, a truly empowered school board might increase the compensation so as to attract more bus drivers, but we just approved a big bond so lack of funds can’t be the reason. Maybe they really do need a shove.

    Munroe (53beca)

  23. IRC, our HS started at 830 AM. The Elementary school started at 9 AM. I don’t remember the “early” start time bothering me in the least. MY daughters secondary school started at 8 AM. Usually the “early’ Start time was needed because Kids had Football/BB/Track etc. after classes ended and they still needed time to be home in time for supper.

    Its the elementary school time that gave me problems. LOL. i was a real sleepy head when young, and we biked to school. Getting up at 8 AM was tough. Now at my old age, staying in bed past 6 AM is difficult.

    rcocean (1a839e)

  24. DRJ and perhaps JVW can relate to this as well, but both stateside and for me in the UK as well, always felt ‘safe’ at school. Kids wore their Cub Scout uniforms complete w/an official knife clipped to the belt and nobody felt threatened– and I’m talkin’ New Jersey. No magnetometers; no cops or security guards on patrol. No lockdown drills– though do recall those thermonuclear war duck-and-cover drills– but by 1965 they’d pretty much ended. From the perspective of safety, it remain a serene memory. I really feel bad for the kids today having to endure the added stress of that concern.

    DCSCA (797bc0)

  25. I think passing it as a state law was silly.

    So here’s how the science works. Both of the things talked about above are true. Students do tend to learn more with later start times because they are less tired AND heavily academic subjects are best learned toward the beginning of your school day because brains get tired and attention spans shorter as the day goes on.

    Nic (896fdf)

  26. BTW, we drove our kids to school in the AM on the way to work. Did my parents drive me to school? LOL. No, I had to take the bus AND walk to the bus stop. When we lived in the sticks, that meant a 15 minute walk to the bus stop AND a 30 minute bus ride. In fact, I can’t think of ANY parents who drove their kids to school. Different times.

    rcocean (1a839e)

  27. According to the response I got, it is totally driven by the availability of bus drivers.

    Very interesting, Munroe. One of the problems with this new law is apparently that urban school districts are going to have a tougher time paying bus drivers, presumably in part because they will be driving in the heart of rush hour and will therefore almost certainly be on the road longer.

    JVW (54fd0b)

  28. Who cares if its a state law or a local law? When the D’s take permanent control of the Federal Government due to immigration and a changed US Demographics, it will be a Federal law.

    rcocean (1a839e)

  29. @17 – I had a college roommate who did his best work at night after 12 midnight. He’d study from midnight till four AM, take a nap from then till 10 Am and be ready to go. The guy was dynamo, getting by on 6 hours of sleep. Obviously, he skipped Breakfast and had six pac abs. Despite not being an athlete.

    rcocean (1a839e)

  30. DCSCA: yeah, I remember bringing a small Swiss Army knife to school to use for various small tasks without anyone raising a stink.

    rcocean: I always lived too close to school to take the bus, so I am one of the last generations who walked to and from elementary school (it was probably a 15 minute walk) and then to middle school (20 minutes), at least until we moved further away at which point I got a ride from my parents or from a neighborhood parent. Occasionally I found myself having to walk home. My town had true neighborhood elementary schools, so my recollection is that just about all of us walked. Busing didn’t start until middle school, and it was only for the kids who lived on the other side of the highway.

    By the time I was in high school, my sister had her driver’s license so either she or a neighborhood friend who was a year older would give me a ride.

    JVW (54fd0b)

  31. @21. The bus issue was the thing for my niece and nephew as well– their mother had to drop them off on her way to work and at times, they’d be left out in front of a school still not open in dawn’s early light. No scheduled school buses any longer- no budget or drivers to maintain a fleet.

    DCSCA (797bc0)

  32. @23 I was in a NATO DODDS school Europe in the late 80s. Things were a bit tense when the wall fell and to get on base on the school buses in the morning they did a visual bomb check with mirrors under the bus and we all had to show our official bus passes and those of us old enough had to show all our other accompanying IDs, so for me and others around my age that was not only the bus pass, but also US military ID, NATO ID and national identity card. Every day. There were also several bomb threats during my time there that required full site evacuations, MPs, and bomb sniffing dogs. When people talk about kids being traumatized by the thought of school shootings, I am able to assure them from personal experience that they will be OK.

    Nic (896fdf)

  33. Years ago, the Chowchilla school bus was a big thing for those kids.

    Colonel Haiku (2601c0)

  34. @29. Yeah, can you believe that?? And nobody gave it a second thought and nobody would even think any malice would occur. Today a fork can get a kid in trouble. I talked to the kids about once and they didn’t seem all that bothered about lockdowns and such– but it was routine for them. Just sad that school has to be a ‘fortress’ now.

    DCSCA (797bc0)

  35. Hours available are finite. 8-3 is 7 hours. Slide that block of hours to the right
    with later start times. So what? Now instead of getting out of class at 3, its 3:30
    or 4:00 That pushes start time for extra curricular activities later in the day,
    thus finish later in the day. Get home later in the day, home work gets done later,
    bed time is later.

    How has this accomplished anything?

    I think our kids were out the door by 6:15. Marching band, Jazz band, chorus, Show
    choir small group contests, speech. In the evenings they had things like Drama practice
    along with what ever sports they were in.

    We won’t go into my childhood because it is not relevant today. 1.5 to 2.0 hours of chores before class. figure out the arise time to make that equation work…every. single. day. But I still got plenty of sleep. The key is going to bed. Again finite hours in the day.

    iowan2 (9c8856)

  36. The bus point makes sense, Munroe. I know that’s a problem where I live because it is hard to find drivers in our economy, but also because the drivers have to work in the AM and PM with a mid-day gap. They get paid by the hour so their compensation is low compared to jobs that start in the morning and end in the evening, and it is hard to find jobs that cover the gap period.

    So I can see why school districts might want to spread out the day so they need fewer bus drivers who are working longer continuous hours.

    DRJ (15874d)

  37. I think there is anecdotal evidence that supports the idea that young people do better starting the school day later, although an extra 30 minutes isn’t enough to make a difference. (I also think telling us that we think better in the morning was designed to help prepare us for the business world that wanted a workforce to get up early and be on time … but that is a different topic.)

    The anecdotal evidence is the LSAT test. The LSAT, GRE, SAT, ACT, PSAT and similar tests are usually administered in the morning and end around Noon or early afternoon. But there is one LSAT a year given in the Summer that starts at 12:30 PM. (This year it was on July 15.) I researched this for a family member several years ago, and it seemed the Summer scores were consistently higher than other sittings. Maybe the people taking the afternoon LSAT are more serious in preparing for the test but the online college websites/counselors seemed to think the start time helped, too.

    DRJ (15874d)

  38. Very interesting bit on the LSAT, DRJ. I wonder if there is an afternoon option for the SAT, and if a similar determination about relative results has ever been made. I think I have something to research for the next few moments.

    JVW (54fd0b)

  39. I don’t know everything about all the test times but I think most are AM tests. It is one reason why the special testing accommodations can include … afternoon testing, which can be a real advantage.

    DRJ (15874d)

  40. Totally OT but worth a mention, what with the comeback year of the 2019 ‘Miracle Nats’—

    No, kids, it’s not a fictional fragment from the plot of Men In Black III— it really happened: 50 years ago this day- October 16, 1969, a miracle in Queens: the Amazin’ New York Mets defeated the Baltimore Orioles in Game 5, 5 to 3, at the now gone Shea Stadium– and won the 1969 World Series. Man, I feel old.

    DCSCA (797bc0)

  41. 50 years ago this day- October 16, 1969, a miracle in Queens: the Amazin’ New York Mets defeated the Baltimore Orioles in Game 5, 5 to 3, at the now gone Shea Stadium– and won the 1969 World Series.

    In the first year that each league was divided up into two divisions and thus required a league championship playoff series. Now we have a wildcard game, divisional series, championship series, and World Series. Progress, I guess?

    JVW (54fd0b)

  42. 40… Mo’ money in their coffers…

    Colonel Haiku (2601c0)

  43. Krauthammer is watching the Nats from his box seats in heaven…

    Colonel Haiku (2601c0)

  44. Well the driving to school bit arose at the same time as the missing children on milk carton phenomenon which also occurred at the same time as the Tylenol murders/chilling effect on the ’82 Halloween trick or treat season. Trick or treat hours were always on the actual 31sr and usually at night vs. the afternoon window proscribed on the Sat or Sun before (village or municipality will service those times).

    urbanleftbehind (1f17e2)

  45. And I know a young man who would’ve gotten a better grade in high school Biology if he hadn’t had the misfortune of sitting directly behind fat boy Gary Goh and his plumber’s crack.

    Colonel Haiku (2601c0)

  46. That was around the tragic adam walsh tragic incident.

    narciso (d1f714)

  47. I’m enjoying the playoffs.

    DRJ (15874d)

  48. @40. Progress- well, it’s been good for the bottom lines- and this year, some very fine baseball. Free agency, ticket prices, salaries– juicing and so on aside– such is progress but the play-by-play and camera work by television these days is truly spectacular. It’s just been a lot of fun to watch.

    @46. Absolutely; me, too. It has been some stellar baseball as playoffs go this year.

    DCSCA (797bc0)

  49. I don’t even who’s playing. I’m going to check if it’s large markets. Then I’ll know it’s fixed.

    Washington DC vs. New York or Houston. It’s fixed.

    nk (dbc370)

  50. Astros vs yankees?

    narciso (d1f714)

  51. @48. If it’s Giuliani’s beloved Yankees vs., the Nationals– a NYC team versus a Washington, D.C. team– expect President you-know-who to show up ‘dragging’ date Rudy along to throw out one of the first pitches.

    DCSCA (797bc0)

  52. That’s why I prefer “vote your conscience” and eyepatch be sated. It was nice to see a day playoff game from Yankee Stadium yesterday, those are wont to be placed at the 8.00pm et slot as befitting the large market.

    urbanleftbehind (1f17e2)

  53. to throw out one of the first pitches.

    Ivana, Marla, or Melania?

    nk (dbc370)

  54. Ooops, sorry, you wrote pitches.

    nk (dbc370)

  55. It was nice to see a day playoff game from Yankee Stadium yesterday, those are wont to be placed at the 8.00pm et slot as befitting the large market.

    I want to live long enough to once again see a World Series game played in the afternoon sunlight, especially if it is on a weekday. But I know that’s highly unlikely.

    JVW (54fd0b)

  56. @52.@53 ROFLMAO

    @54. Ahhh yes, that would be a relaxing pleasure to watch, wouldn’t it. If/only…

    DCSCA (797bc0)

  57. staring a half hour later is a compromise that maybe doesn;t accomplish too much as far as being able to get up.

    DCSCA @4

    @1. Don’t know, JVW; back in the day we had HS classes starting at 8 AM– and it was Physics, no less. In winter, after DST ended… just awful

    When DST ends, you get up a hour later Do you mean at the time when DST was about to end? Or do you mean when Standard Time ended? That used to end at the end of April, later, in the United States, at the beginning of April, I think in the UK at the end of MArch and now in the USA in the middle or early part of March (second Sunday)

    In 1974 we went to year round Daylight Savings Time on Jan 28 I think and on Feb 28 t he next year (1975) then back to he last Sunday in April till circa 1987

    Sammy Finkelman (3ce3e5)


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