California Governor Jerry Brown has vetoed a bill that would have required the state’s middle and high schools to start classes no earlier than 8:30 a.m.
The veto dashed the hopes of scores of doctors, educators and parents who had hoped the state’s more than 3 million public school students would prove that a later school start improves attendance, performance and graduation rates.
Some school districts in several states across the country have adopted later start times, but the bill would have made California the first to mandate it statewide.
But Governor Brown sided with some school districts and local officials who argued that the issue should be left up to individual communities.
Supporters of the bill point to a study by the American Academy of Pediatrics that found insufficient sleep for teens was “an important public health issue” that significantly affects their health and safety.
Another study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention noted that as adolescents go through puberty their biological rhythms typically shift so they get sleepy later at night.
“The combination of delayed bedtimes and early school start times results in inadequate sleep for a large portion of the adolescent population,” the CDC study said. It found that about 70 percent of U.S. high school students do not get sufficient sleep.
Middle and high schools across California begin their day on average at 8:07 a.m., according to the CDC study.
Opponents of the bill say they do not dispute the findings of the studies, but argue that local school boards should have the ultimate power to decide what works for their community, taking into consideration other issues such as student transportation, staffing and costs.