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School Start Times: Lights out, heads down

For years, high school students and their parents have complained about how early school starting times are. So when Superintendent Joshua Starr proposed plans to push back high school start times from 7:25 to 8:15, many felt relieved.

“This is a public health and safety issue,” Dr. Starr said in a press release. “Adolescents are simply not getting enough sleep.”

Mandi Mader, the director of the Montgomery Chapter of Start Schools Later, an organization that advocates for later school start times, responded with a nod to both Dr. Starr and the more than 10,000 signatures on a 2012 petition advocating for later school times. The current recommendation includes pushing back the start and end times of high school from 7:25am to 8:15am and from 2:10pm to 3:00pm, and making middle school start times ten minutes earlier.

Despite considerable public support for the measure, however, there is also an overwhelming chorus of disagreement among students. Hind Saleh, a senior on the Walter Johnson High School varsity soccer team, argues that moving school hours back would be more of a hindrance than a help. “Sports wouldn’t end until way later. Games would either have to start later or practice time would be cut from other sports,” Saleh said. She also added that the effectiveness of starting and ending school later for everybody is limited by the fact that “ending school later means that students will just stay up later to finish all the work.”

William Cai, a graduate of Montgomery Blair High School, agrees. Referring to his college experience, he said, “moving back wake up time just means people stay up later.”

Dr. Starr admitted that there is not enough evidence to clearly conclude that changing start times would help students learn; however, “there is a clear link between student health and well-being and sleep.” He hopes that pushing back start times would allow students to get the sleep they need to focus better in school.

The earliest any change could be implemented is the 2015-2016 school year.

Article by Hannah He, the MoCo Student staff writer

Clock image courtesy of Adam Bensimhon, Rockville Rampage Photography Director

One Response to School Start Times: Lights out, heads down

  1. E. Reply

    November 13, 2013 at 6:06 pm

    Although there is of course a link between well being and amount of sleep, there is absolutely no guarantee that students will get more sleep if school starts later. School will end later, so sports and other extracurricular such as drama will end later, so students will get home later and finish their homework later. Busy students may just have to shift their schedule one hour, rather than add another hour to their day (If Dr. Starr suggested making a 25 hour day, that would be another story). Additionally, many upperclassmen work after school. For instance, I have to be at work at 2:30, meaning I have to leave immediately after school. Taking away that extra hour (and starting at 3:30) would subtract over 100 dollars per month from my savings. Or I just may have to work later, therefore get home and start homework later, and have to stay up later. Although this idea may sound appealing at first, I would argue that it would not change anything for many students, and even hinder others.

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