Dear Future President,
Did you know that, according to Liz Szabo’s article from USA Today, “83% of schools [sic] start before 8:30”? This is crazy! Especially since, according to Sarah McKibben of Start School Later, “Shifts in the sleep-wake cycle at puberty mean that most adolescents get their best sleep between 11 p.m. and 8 a.m.” Although the public school system has been around for years, teens are waking way too early to get to school.
My name is Aidan Fite and I am in 8th grade. I currently live in Boise, Idaho, but, before that, I traveled around the country in an RV for two years and was homeschooled. Since settling back down, I have decided to go back to “normal” school. I am currently waking up at 5:30 to get to my 6:51 bus in order to get to school, which starts at 7:45. That is just insanity. I started wondering why I was waking up at 5:30 to go to school and realized, it makes absolutely no sense! I am waking up extremely early, to go to school and learn with my full attention, on what is scientifically proven, not enough sleep! Oh, and by the way, I forgot to mention that the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends the “earliest start time to be 8:30 for the sake of sleep, learning and health”. We wouldn’t want to send our kids to school at unhealthy times, would we?
If you were wondering about the earliest and latest school start times, I was too, so I found them. According to the Wall Street Journal, the earliest start time is 7:17, a full 43 minutes before teens should even wake up. Now the latest time, 9:30, is mainly because of bus schedules. Not because of the extra sleep it allows, no that wasn’t the reason. Because of bus schedules.
Delaying start times won’t only help with moods but also grades. Finley Edwards, in his article "Do Schools Start too Early?" mentions that: “Delaying school start times by one hour, from roughly 7:30 to 8:30, increases standardized test scores by at least 2 percentile points in math and 1 percentile point in reading.” This means that, if we change start times just a little bit later, grades will drastically change because they could stay focused more and for longer.
There are many reliable sources who agree about later start times. For example: the National Sleep Foundation says that “Teens are among those least likely to get enough sleep; while they need on average 9 1/4 hours of sleep per night for optimal performance, health and brain development, teens average fewer than 7 hours per school night by the end of high school…”. This means that teens are waking up earlier than they should to get to school. Something isn’t right in this picture.
These two reasons matter because, well, kids are waking up way too early to fully function in school. So I ask a complicated question. Normally I would say simple, but it isn’t. How can we fix this? Well, we need a total revamp of the public education system. The first topic is to change the start times. That will change the overall effectiveness, if you remember from earlier. So, please, make this change, and make it a good one too. America’s youth will thank you more than you can ever imagine.
With high aspirations,