Caleb D. Michigan

Later School Start Times

This letter is a plea to have nation or state wide start times for high schools changed, or made more uniform.

Dear Future President,

High school should start at a later time to give students the best environment possible for learning. The average start time for high school in the US is around 8AM, with the recommended start time being after 8:30. Starting school after 8:30 is the best way to ensure teens get the right amount of sleep. Starting school just 30-60 minutes later can have a big difference on a student's performance. Sleep is the most important thing for teens, their bodies are going through so many changes, and with their minds working all day, the best time for those changes to happen is at night. If school starts at 7:25, a student will be going through a whole class before the recommended time even to start has happened. Starting early only causes the student to have to wake up earlier and achieve A’s before the recommended time for learning has even came about.

Much research has been done on school start times and sleep of teens in particular. Many studies suggest that teens get anywhere from 8-10 hours of sleep, and according to Smithsonian.com, starting school at 8:30 is the best way to obtain the right amount of sleep time. Becoming sleep deprived has always been a problem, but not until recently has it become a worldwide topic of conversation. Huffingtonpost.com says that in a 2014 servery, over 90% of teens are chronically sleep deprived up from 67% in 1990. Also 87% say they don’t get enough sleep today, up from 56% in 1990.

The main factor in low sleep and sleep deprivation is the schools. They set the time you have to wake up and when you get home each day. For most teens, the bus determines how there day will go. If students miss it, they are late or can’t get to school. If there bus comes early, they will have to wake up earlier to make the bus. The National Sleep Foundation says P. Tones, a junior, only gets about 4 hours of sleep on a good day. From being on the bus in the morning for 50 minutes to sports and activities his classes require, he claims he has to survive no sleep to survive High School. In addition to this, students who attend a full day of classes often have other commitments after school that attribute to their interrupted sleep schedule or lack thereof. According to Businessinsider.com, students who play at least one sport or participate in an extracurricular activity after school hours, can spend up to 40 hours a week practicing or playing. These weekly practices or games take students away from their homework load, forcing them to push it off until later in the evening. Ultimately, taking more time away from their sleep.

School start times affects everyone in the community. Manly students, parents, and teachers. I polled 30 students ages 14-16 and found that 86.6% feel tired through their first class, and claim they don’t enough sleep. The change in time will allow kids more deep sleep and allow for more participation in the classroom and throughout the day. I also found that 90% of teachers believe a later start time will be better for students and would ultimately improve attention spans during class time. With a change, parents would have to adjust their drop off and pick up times, and same with the bus drivers. A later start time will allow for everyone involved with the school to get more sleep.

Opponents of later start times may say that starting later means we will get out later. While this would stand true, people claim there won’t be enough time for sports or clubs in the evening hours. School officials might even say they save money by having buses drive in the earlier hours or by ending earlier. But why are they so concerned about the money? Shouldn’t the focus be on the students and teachers of the school? Lastly, sometimes it is a little difficult for families to start their day a later time, but not only are there many alternative ways to get to school, families could also benefit from a later start.

I propose that the next president set a nationwide standard for either a specific start time of schools, or minimum time schools can start. With state or country wide times, school districts will not be able to argue as much because everyone in the US will be starting around the same time. It would also be feasible if schools budget their finances to make way for new busing systems that could operate over a larger area, at a later time.

In conclusion, pushing back the start time within schools across the US could potentially help students in many ways. The benefits far outweigh the negatives, for example, studies show that a well rested student is academically more successful than those who typically get a maximum of 5-6 hours of sleep a night. If schools could redesign their busing systems, or reorganize their finances to create a plan that could better support the needs of students, we could potentially see a rise of students who are more alert, awake and overall more willing to participate in the classroom.

Sincerely, Caleb Danielson, MI