Promote legislation to prevent public schools from starting before 8 a.m.

<p>Many high schools today begin in the 7 o'clock hour, a practice started several decades ago to save money by recycling school bus runs. Now considerable research confirms that these school start times are inconsistent with sleep needs of teenagers and young adults and are seriously undermining school performance as well as children's health and welfare. Because politics, money, and other logistical issues keep most school systems from changing start times, even when they want to do so, many of us who've been working for local change now for years (in some cases decades!) believe we need a minimum earliest start time for all public schools. The idea isn't to have the government set local school hours; it's simply to establish a rock-bottom limit (in the same way the federal government already mandates lunch hours!) to make it easier for local schools to do what's best for the safety, health, and learning of all children of every age when they set individual schedules. Sleep science has reached the point that it's time to stop talking about this problem, and start doing something about it--unless we want to subject yet another generation of teenagers to what we now know is a counterproductive and arguably inhumane situation.</p>

<p>Just what the local schools need - another unfunded federal mandate. Or does your petition also ask Congress to appropriate the money needed to buy each district an extra set of buses and hire an extra set of drivers?</p>

<p>Believe me, I'm generally a big proponent of local control of education (and very well aware of the last unfunded mandate fiasco). So I understand your reaction. However, I don't think that argument applies here. First, there are ways to start school after 7 a.m. without huge expenditures of money. Just how, of course, depends on the locality. To see some solutions, here's a great discussion: Frequently</a> Asked Questions - SLEEP: Start Later for Excellence in Education Proposal. In addition, there are certain things that are necessities of life that schools simply must find ways to pay for, no matter what. Schools have to pay for heat when the temperature falls below a certain level, for example. They have to pay teachers to teach in them, and pay for food that meets certain safety and nutritional standards. Paying what it takes to provide school hours that are consistent with children's health, safety, and learning falls into this same category. 8 a.m. is hardly a radical time. Asking kids to get up at 5 a.m. and go to school in dark, and sending them home unsupervised at 2 p.m., seems much more radical to me. Finally, it's easy to throw out criticisms of a proposal for reform, but what do you propose to do instead? If you have a better idea, please share it. So far decades of advocacy by thousands of parents, teachers, and communities have led to no change, and left a lot of sleep-deprived kids plagued with so many physical, psychological, and academic woes I can't fit them in this space. But you can read all about the research at schoolstarttime.org.</p>

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what do you propose to do instead?

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<p>Make your kids go to bed earlier?</p>

<p>I'm with you earthmother. Sleep deprivation is dangerous and there are lots of sleep deprived teens - probably most. They think they don't need as much sleep and they are wrong. One other complication though are after school jobs. Many like to get out really early so they can get to their after school job earlier.</p>

<p>Quit feeding the troll....</p>

<p>I believe in local control of individual districts. Our districts had hearings regarding start times several years ago, in response to new research on teens and sleep. As a result, our district begins elementary at 8am, jr high at 8:30am and high school at 9am. While it's great that the teenagers have to sleep in, they don't get out until 4:15 which makes afterschool activities and jobs very difficult. It's all a trade-off, IMO.</p>

<p>Thank you, hops_scout. I realize, though, that this topic strikes a surprising number of people as at best trivial and, at worst, as a sign of some kind of moral weakness (early to bed, early to rise?). That's precisely why it will never be resolved at a local level. Every time a proposal comes up to change school hours, the kneejerk ridicule begins, quickly followed by a slew of largely unfounded fears about costs, inconvenience, sports, extracurriculars, daycare, teacher training, and basically how life as we know it won't be possible if high school starts an hour or two later. However, cartera45 is right on track in citing the dangers of sleep deprivation (clearly school hours aren't the only cause of this, but they play a major role). If you don't live with this situation personally, it's worth taking the time to read the extensive research on it. The vast majority of sleep scientists, psychologists, educators, pediatricians, public health officials, and parents of teenagers now agree that starting high school before the sun rises is a serious threat to the health and well-being of teenagers. I'm happy to have a serious discussion with anyone about how to resolve the problem. But I do think it needs to be resolved. And this petition is a great way to bring the topic into the national spotlight.</p>

<p>megpmom, your district is one of the lucky ones. It's true that some school systems have managed to change--and, at least according to the published research, the results have been well worth it. However, if you take a look at the vast majority of schools in this country, decades of blood, sweat, and tears have done nothing. In Fairfax County, VA, one of the largest school systems in the country, high school starts at 7:20 a.m., and a very active, organized parent coalition working since 2004 has not been able to change anything. I just talked to a young woman there who said she got up at 4:45 am every day to have time to get dressed, eat breakfast, and endure a long commute to school. The same is true of many kids in Anne Arundel County, MD, where schools start at 7:17 a.m., and have since the 1980s (when no one, by the way, asked the public whether starting so early would be acceptable). If you Google later school start times, you'll see groups struggling to make changes all over the country (even a group of students currently working to do so in California). But you'll also discover that most of these efforts go nowhere. The reason has to do with the nature of education politics. I used to agree with you about local control completely, but after spending ten years on this personally, and watching my own children grow up and leave home while nothing changed, I'm not willing to sit around watching another generation suffer. Setting a minimum standard for public health and safety is hardly the same as usurping "local control." I realize that asking the federal government to do anything at all these days sets off fireworks in many people, but occasionally there is a place for federal intervention (think about desegregation, for example), particularly when localities are unable to function well enough to provide basic human protections.</p>

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That's precisely why it will never be resolved at a local level.

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<p>Yes, because all those ignorant, unwashed local School Board members are incapable of the refined level of understanding of issues that so characterizes the members of the United States Congress.</p>

<p>annasdad nailed it....if you think a 7:00 start doesn't give your kid enough sleep..have them go to bed 1 hour earlier.....simple.</p>

<p>First of all, just make your kids go to bed earlier. My high school started at 7:12. We all survived. Starting and going later would affect many things. What about athletic events? I played basketball my freshmen year and leaving at 2:30, we often wouldn't get back until after 8:00. Pushing that back would force students to go home much later at night. After school jobs would also be affected since high school students can't work after a certain time. When I worked on plays, we would often be there from 5 until 10 because we had to share a stage with the actors and they would practice until 5 and we would get it after. Again, starting later would force that to go much later. </p>

<p>If sleep deprivation is an issue, make your kids go to bed sooner. We had late start one day a week for a year due to "collaboration days" (I still have no idea what those were). Students didn't get more sleep, they just stayed up an extra hour since they knew they could sleep in that hour.</p>

<p>That seems logical, but research on circadian rhythms shows that the vast majority of people ages 12-25 simply can't fall asleep before about 11 p.m.--even if they're in bed. And they can't function optimally until at least 8:30 a.m. When you couple that with the many hours of homework most of these kids have, the long hours of sports or other practices, jobs, etc., plus new research showing that most teens need approximately 9 hours of sleep a night, the math doesn't add up. Look, we can all sit here and talk about how we survived, just as our forefathers "survived" walking to school barefoot in the snow for miles to school. But, as I said, the consensus of scientific opinion right now is that what we're seriously undermining health, safety, and academic performance. You are certainly entitled to your opinion, but I urge you to take a look at the research. The website schoolstarttime.org has done an excellent job of compiling it in one place. Please take a look.</p>

<p>I believe most high schools in the country have changed their starting times this week - to an hour later according to the sun - more time than the original poster has asked for!!!!!! It's called changing your clock due to daylight savings time! What is called a 7:20 am starting time this week is what passed for 8:20am last week!!!!!</p>

<p>As for petitioning the federal government, this is now and I believe should remain a local issue. If you want a change, I believe you should petition your local school board. Because of the different time zones in this country, cities near the time change lines already are an hour different clock time for a similar sun time, and should have the freedom to adjust their school starting times as they feel appropriate for their local schools.</p>

<p>earthmother, I moved my kid from a high school that starts at 7:30 to a high school that starts at 8:00 A.M. D1 fell asleep in class most of the time eventhough she did not stay up that late. D2 stays up really late but seems to be ok, i.e, not falling asleep in class. Big difference in grades.</p>

<p>It's not the start time, it's the time they have to get on the bus. We live in a large county, there are a lot of kids that get on the bus at 5:45. Of course most of those kids start driving as soon as they can so they can sleep in until 6:30 and still get to school by 7:30.</p>

<p>Sending them to bed earlier does not help if Mother Nature has wired the majority of teenage brains to resist sleep until later in the evening. That is the point of the studies. That said, the majority of CC students will perform just fine whenever you send them off to bed or school because they are self-motivated (like their parents probably were, so our particular personal experiances are not relevant to the problems that later start times seek to fix). </p>

<p>In high schools where 25 to 35% of kids drop out before they graduate, moving the start time later could be a big help in reducing tardiness and absenteeism. If the kids are in class and awake, they will do better. </p>

<p>Darkness is a poor excuse for national regulation, since the south doesn't have this issue. One reason there is a huge amount of resistance is the business community wants those cheap laborers in as early as possible in the afternoon. That has nothing to do with education politics. If early starts are to suceed it has to be done at the grass roots level. Going Federal will just create a backlash that will guarantee resistance.</p>

<p>Due to a change in the bus schedule this year, DS high school starts 45 minutes later, at 7:45. Tardies are down, and average grades for 1st period classes are up the first nine-weeks.
I dont rely on only one course as the anecdotal evidence, but I have seen my own teenager benefit from the extra sleep.</p>

<p>"That seems logical, but research on circadian rhythms shows that the vast majority of people ages 12-25 simply can't fall asleep before about 11 p.m.--even if they're in bed."</p>

<p>I would like to see that research. We always had our kids go to bed early on school nights from a young age. Staying up doing nothing but watching TV or playing video games didn't make much sense to us. Way too many kids in grade school were tired because their parents let them go to bed when they pleased.</p>

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Please show me some evidence that it's good for kids (or young teachers) to start school at 7 a.m.

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<p>Are you going to also petition that workers shouldn't be able to start work at (or before) 7AM? Please hurry up.. I have to be at work at 5:20AM tomorrow so if you could please hurry and get that changed!</p>