Pediatricians Say Start School Later, Embrace SB 328

The American Academy of Pediatrics Formally Endorses School Start Time Bill
Thursday, March 16 2017

Sacramento, CA – Doctors we trust safeguarding our children’s health add their support to Senate Bill 328.  Introduced at the beginning of this year by Senator Portantino, SB 328 seeks to move high school and middle school start times later in the morning.   The American Academy of Pediatrics, California (AAP-CA), representing over 5,000 California pediatricians, strongly supports SB 328, which will require that the school day for middle and high schools start no earlier than 8:30 a.m.   In their letter of support, the AAP-CA confirms its belief that “this is a public health issue that deserves a serious, immediate response.”

“I am extremely thankful to have garnered the support of such a respected organization of health professionals whose livelihood and mission are to care for our children’s well-being.  Science and medicine are on our side and I’m hoping that my colleagues embrace an exciting and results-based proposal to help our children better succeed in school and have good health doing it,” commented Senator Portantino.

In recent years, researchers have released clear and convincing evidence on the merit of moving school start time back to 8:30 a.m.  These studies have shown that test scores, graduation rates and attendance go up while drug use, car accidents and obesity go down just by starting the school day a little later.

In addition to AAP-CA, the list of support for SB 328 includes the Children’s Orthopaedic Center at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles/University of Southern California, where the Center’s own previous research has examined a lack of sleep as a major contributor to injury and worsened mental capabilities in pediatric athletes. The study found that adolescent athletes who had less than eight hours of sleep had two-thirds times the increased risk of a sports injury. Additionally, research revealed that decreased sleep is associated with decreased neurocognitive performance, including worsened memory and cognition.

In their support letter, the Children’s Orthopaedic Center stated that “simply recommending earlier bed times for adolescents does not solve the problem because pediatric biologic changes prevent such compliance. Teens’ natural sleep-wake cycles begin shifting two hours later at the start of puberty, thus making it difficult for them to fall asleep before 11 p.m.”

“If we care about science-based indications as to what is in our children’s best interest, we have information available to us.  It’s now up to us to use it,” concluded Portantino.

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Sen. Portantino represents nearly 930,000 people in the 25th Senate District, which includes Altadena, Atwater Village, Bradbury, Burbank, Claremont, Duarte, Glendale, Glendora, La Cañada Flintridge, La Crescenta, La Verne, Monrovia, Montrose, Pasadena, San Dimas, San Marino, Shadow Hills, Sierra Madre, South Pasadena, Sunland-Tujunga, and Upland.