Schools Need to Consider Late Start

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For the second year in a row, California Lawmakers will begin pushing a bill through the Houses requiring schools to implement a later start for the school day. Last year, Governor Jerry Brown vetoed the bill calling it a “one size fits all” approach. Brown claimed local school districts should handle these decisions on school start times. (sacbee.com)

However, Brown is no longer in office, and it is now up to current Governor Gavin Newsom to weed through the rhetoric and pull the trigger on the proposed bill.

There are many benefits to starting school later. First, a later start may help students improve their functioning by getting enough sleep; improving their health, academic performance, and overall quality of life. As students, we have adapted and adjusted to not getting enough quality rest, and it has become common to be tired amongst all of us. There are several health risks and problems associated with not getting enough sleep. Several health risks include being overweight, drinking alcohol, smoking tobacco, as well as performing poorly in academics. The American Academy of Pediatrics has recommended that middle schools and high schools start after 8:30 to guarantee the youth is getting their recommended 8-10 hour sleep days (aap.org). However, more than 80% of middle schools and high schools in the United States start before 8:30, with the average being 7 am.

The arguments against the later start are also numerous. First, many people who might debate that after 8:30, school days give students an unrealistic view of the average workday for adults and that we should start preparing adolescences for early workdays. Second, school schedules seem to be made for the convenience of parents and their work hours rather than what is better for the students.

So who is right?

States such as North Dakota and Alaska, who start their classes after 8:30, have reported students are more focused during the day, more alert, and less likely to be late or absent. Allowing students to wake up later clearly promoted student success, which should be the priority of all schools. Besides academic progression, students receiving more sleep is an issue outside of school because we know that generally, high schoolers drive themselves around. It can be safely inferred that those who get more sleep are typically trusted behind the wheel. With teens accounting for half all the traffic accidents (cdc.gov), it is essential we keep them rejuvenated and awake.

Now that we know the benefits of students start school later and getting more rest, we need to analyze what we can do to ensure students are offered the best opportunity to achieve success in school and promote to students the importance a well-rested student is a successful student.