Not The Onion, but FOX reports on the latest absurdity to come out of California public schools:
California lawmakers voted Friday to bar middle and high schools from starting before 8:30 a.m., one of dozens of proposals debated in the Legislature on the final day of its legislative session.
The bill, SB328, reportedly passed by narrow margin in both chambers of the state legislature which late into the night considered a variety of topics and proposals just before a midnight deadline; and if signed into law by Gov. Jerry Brown, it will go into effect in three years.
School health advocates claim that early start times cut down on the number of hours of sleep teens get each night. According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention figures cited by FOX, almost 80 percent of all California middle and high schools started earlier than 8:30 a.m. in 2012.
However, opponents of the bill say this is yet more nanny state action initiated by a far removed state assembly. "When it comes to education, the farther away the decisions are made from the classroom, the worse those decisions are," Assemblyman Jose Medina, D-Riverside, said of the bill.
Opponents say it's a matter that should be in the hands of local school boards and not the state legislature, as only the former can be sensitive to needs of the local community.
But proponents claim a later school start time will result in increased graduation rates throughout the state. Assemblyman Jay Obernolte was widely cited as saying, "This is the single most cost-effective thing we can do to improve high school graduation rates."
The only exemption to the new law should it take effect are rural schools; and schools would further still have control over scheduling electives or "extra periods" before the regular school day begins.
Of course, it should be obvious that if middle and high school students aren't getting enough sleep at night, letting students sleep-in is likely to have zero impact considering the more significant and likelier variables leading to loss of sleep.
First and foremost we can imagine that a later school start time will simply give teens more time to stay glued to their phones late into the night. Multiple studies of late have demonstrated correlation between unhealthy sleep patters and iPhone addiction.
According to one recent study published by The Guardian, for example:
Teenagers’ late-night mobile phone use is harming their sleep and potentially their mental health, say researchers who advised that “physical boundaries” be set over use of such devices in the bedroom.
The report noted that multiple prior sleep studies had established the negative impact that screen time was having on young people, and explained further:
Teenagers who reported “constantly texting into the night” said when surveyed a year later, the problem had worsened. “It’s escalating – they’re highly invested in it ... Some kids are staying up until 3am.”
But anyone simply looking around to observe teen habits hardly needs a formal research study to become aware of the problem.
But California says the answer is: just let'em sleep in longer.