What do you think about mandatory later school starts?

IMG_3650As a swim mom, we had early mornings with practice Tuesday and Thursdays at 5:30 a.m. My son, who didn’t swim morning practices, always had zero period where he had to be in his seat for an AP or Honors class by 7 a.m. I’m interested on how the new legislation signed into law by the California Governor will affect families. In case you haven’t heard, school start times will be mandated to begin no sooner than 8 a.m. for middle schools and 8:30 a.m. for high schools.

The discussion is both positive and negative with many families wondering how they will make this adjustment to their school/work commute schedules. Many people have to be at work by 8 a.m. Not, 8:45 or 9 a.m. which would happen if you had to drop your kids off at school at 8:30 a.m. Maybe businesses will make adjustments to schedules? I’m sure the swimmers will enjoy having a little breathing room and downtime between their morning practices and the start of the school day.

An article called California becomes first state in the country to push back school start times by Taryn Luna in the Los Angeles Times that explores the new school mandates in more detail. Here’s an excerpt:

SACRAMENTO —  California will become the first state in the nation to mandate later start times at most middle schools and high schools under legislation signed into law by Gov. Gavin Newsom on Sunday, a proposal designed to improve educational outcomes by giving students more sleep.

The new law, however, is not without controversy. It was opposed by some school officials and rejected twice before by lawmakers and Newsom’s predecessor.

“The science shows that teenage students who start their day later increase their academic performance, attendance, and overall health,” Newsom said in a statement. “Importantly, the law allows three years for schools and school districts to plan and implement these changes.”

The law will take effect over a phased-in period, ultimately requiring public middle schools to begin classes at 8 a.m. or later while high schools will start no earlier than 8:30 a.m. The law does not apply to optional early classes, known as “zero periods,” or to schools in some of the state’s rural districts.

Although school schedules vary, a legislative analysis in July said that roughly half the schools in the state would be required to delay their start times by 30 minutes or less to comply with the law. An analysis of the 2011-12 school year by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found the average start time for California schools attended by some 3 million middle school and high school students was 8:07 a.m. Some of the state’s students were required to be in class before 7:30 a.m.

The new start times will be implemented by the beginning of the 2022-23 school year or when a school’s three-year collective bargaining agreement with its employees comes to an end, whichever is later. Schools that have recently negotiated agreements or are in the midst of negotiating new agreements with teachers have the option of adjusting to the later times when their contracts end.

In advocating for SB 328, state Sen. Anthony Portantino (D-La Cañada Flintridge), author of the legislation, cited a 2014 opinion from the American Academy of Pediatrics that said middle and high schools in most districts should not start school until 8:30 a.m.

“Today, Gov. Newsom displayed a heartwarming and discerning understanding of the importance of objective research and exercised strong leadership as he put our children’s health and welfare ahead of institutional bureaucracy resistant to change,” Portantino said. “Generations of children will come to appreciate this historic day and our governor for taking bold action. Our children face a public health crisis. Shifting to a later start time will improve academic performance and save lives because it helps our children be healthier.”

The question of whether to push back school start times has lingered for years across the nation, hotly debated by academics and health professionals. The American Academy of Pediatrics, which backed the proposal along with groups such as the California Medical Assn. and the California State Parent Teacher Assn., pointed to studies that found links between more sleep from later start times and better school performance, and better health, among adolescents.

The pediatricians’ group says it “recognizes insufficient sleep in adolescents as a public health issue, endorses the scientific rationale for later school start times, and acknowledges the potential benefits to students with regard to physical and mental health, safety and academic achievement.”

“Teenagers in this country are sleep deprived,” said Assemblyman Todd Gloria (D-San Diego) before the Assembly approved the bill with a 44-17 vote last month. “It is a public health epidemic, and according to conclusive medical research, the primary cause of this epidemic is the early school start times that are not aligned with biological sleep needs of adolescent children.”

The American Academy of Pediatrics also called for more research to document the effects of later start times and advised that average commutes in a community and other local factors should also be considered — a key argument made by the California School Boards Assn., the California Teachers Assn. and other opponents of the bill.

Teachers unions and school districts generally argued that decisions about the appropriate time to begin classes should be determined at the local level, allowing districts and schools to determine schedules that best meet the needs of their communities.

There are pluses and minuses to this law. I will watch and see what the unattended consequences are. There usually are some when laws are passed with the best of intentions.IMG_1569-1

What are your thoughts about the new California law?

Have you ever had a gray day?

 

IMG_0037.JPG

My backyard is gray today.

 

I’m having a bit of a gray day today. Yesterday was my first full workday home in two weeks and I was filled with energy and enthusiasm. Today, not so much. Maybe it’s the weather. It’s decidedly gray out there. And raining!

We had two leaks on opposite sides of the house. One in our bedroom closet and the other in my daughter’s room. The repairs were done less than a month ago. This is our first rain since, and I’m not happy to report that I’m waiting for the roofer to return to fix the once again leak in my closet! We just had the closet replastered and painted, and now that will need to be done again. I have yet to get my stuff back in there. And I’m desperate to do so. The good news is that the roof repair in my daughter’s (empty) bedroom is holding.

Combine the gray, the rain, the leaks, and my not hearing back from the orthopedic surgeon to find out when he can see me—and I guess my gray day is one of frustration.

I’ve read in the news that five people have died from this rainstorm in Montecito. Montecito is a magical town adjacent to Santa Barbara. It’s where the gorgeous old Spanish mansions are with long winding driveways. It’s where celebrities live like Oprah and Ellen. But because of the Thomas fire, and now the deluge of rain, hills of mud are sliding through the town wiping out houses and causing deaths. You can read the Los Angeles Times report on the mudslides and flooding here. The freeway is closed, people are stranded, and hey, I don’t have it so bad, after all! Prayers to everyone affected by the fire and rains.IMG_0039

What do you do to lift your spirits during a gray day?

More Thoughts About Freedom of Speech on College Campuses

images-1

My alma mater.

I worry about my kids and the world we are leaving them. I especially worry about how their ideals are so different than mine, when I was their age.

For example, I wanted to have a successful career. I was interested in getting a job. Eventually get married, buy a home and raise a family. Not that I wanted that at age 19 or even 22, but it was in the back of my mind.

images-2

Another view from the UW.

I was a journalism major. My internships were at local newspapers and I spent one quarter at the state capital as a legislative reporter. I valued the written word. As an avid reader and writer for most of my entire life, I value freedom of speech and believe we are one of the few fortunate country’s in the world to enjoy this right. We have friends who immigrated from Eastern Europe. They told us how books were illegal in their country. They would smuggle photographs of each page to read and share with friends.

.

imgres

Washington  State Capital Dome

I’m so surprised that our kids do not appreciate this right.

Did you hear that? Freedom of speech, which is our first amendment right, is not a favorable thing to a growing number of our college students. There was a recent Pew Research poll that tracked opinions about freedom of speech. Forty percent of students believe that our first amendment is outdated and that the government should have the right to censor our speech if it’s offensive to minorities.

“Amendment I

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.”

Read more here about the document called the Bill of Rights. 

images-3

I was a young child in the 60s when protestors were taking over college campuses, bombing buildings and burning flags. They were protesting the War. They believed in freedom of speech.

You don’t have to agree with the words being said. You don’t even have to like it. You can hate it and find it offensive. But, don’t censor or silence it. It seems that our college campuses have become microcosms of group think where no dissenting point of view is allowed. If someone speaks out with a contrary opinion, they are shouted down, silenced and excommunicated.

imgres-2

It’s very scary to me that the foundations of our country are not respected or valued by our youth. I’m hoping they outgrow this attitude as they enter the world, get jobs and raise their families.

There’s a book I read when my kids were in grade school called Red Scarf Girl by Ji-li Jiang. It’s a true story and eerily reminds me of what’s going on today with our college students.imgres-3

“In 1966, Ji-li Jiang was twelve years old. An outstanding student and leader in her school, she had everything: brains, ability, the admiration of her peers – and a shining future in Chairman Mao’s New China. But all that changed with the advent of the Cultural Revolution, when intelligence became a crime and a wealthy family background invited persecution or worse.”

It’s a well written book and the story is one we should think about today.

images-4

Here’s a story from 12/9/2015 that brings up some of the issues on campuses I’ve been reading about: Importance of Free Speech on Campus .

Here’s an opinion piece from the LA Times that addresses the issue of freedom of speech with numbers.

Here’s a couple blog posts I’ve written on the subject:

Is Freedom of Speech Dead On American Campuses

Are the Right to Party and the Right to Free Speech at Odds at UCSB?

“A Birthday Day for the Dogs” and Other Reasons to Celebrate Today

robertIt’s my son’s 22-year birthday. I’m having a hard time wrapping my brain around that fact. On the bright side, Spring Break allows him to come home to celebrate. This year he brought his girlfriend, too. This is all overwhelming and exciting at the same time.

I can’t help but get sentimental and nostalgic for when he was a young boy. He called me “sweetheart” because he thought it was my name. When we went to “Mommy and Me” at the Palm Springs Pavilion, there was a “good-bye” song at the end of each session. When his name was called, he’d toddle to the teacher and plant a kiss on her cheek. He was so sweet. Still is.

robert 1In honor of his birthday, I’m reposting a story I wrote when he invited 50 kids to his 2nd grade party. Originally published in the Los Angeles Times Kids’ Reading Room, it’s about Angus our yellow lab of 15 years, who shared my son’s birthday.

A Birthday for the Dogs

“MOM, I’m inviting 50 kids to my party.”

“What, Robert?” Mom said. “That’s too many. Do you know 50 kids?”

I sat in the back seat while Mom drove home after school. My eighth birthday was in two weeks. 

“There’s my class, plus Cub Scouts, and playgroup.”

“I can’t afford to take 50 kids skating or bowling. And I don’t want 50 kids in my house. What about the city pool? It’s heated, open year-round, and it’s only 50¢ a kid,” Mom said.

“A swim party, that’s cool!” I said.

“I’ll say yes to the party, but no to presents. Fifty presents is too much for one 8-year-old. It’s decadent.”

“What’s decadent?” I asked. Mom used words I didn’t know.

“Self-indulgent, corrupt.”

I sat silently and thought I’d be sad with no presents. Then I remembered Angus. Mom got him for me as an early birthday present. We were on a waiting list for two years with Guide Dogs of the Desert. He was being trained as a companion dog for people who couldn’t see. We got him because he had poor hips and couldn’t be a working dog. Angus was big, yellow, and I loved him. We shared the same birthday.

“I have a great idea!”

“What?” Mom asked, glancing at me in her rearview mirror.

“I’ll ask for money for Guide Dogs of the Desert.”

“Ah?” Mom made a weird swalloing noise.

“It’s Angus’s birthday, too.”

Angus5

In the rearview mirror I watched Mom dab at the corner of her eyes with a tissue, and nod her head in agreement.

Two weeks later, I had a great birthday. Fifty kids came with bathing suits, towels and money. Instead of opening presents after cake, we counted dollars they had stuffed into a large jar decorated with photos of Angus. 

Together, we raised more than $1,600 for Guide Dogs. Mom called me a “philanthropist” – whatever that is.

Angus8Happy birthday, son! We miss you, Angus!