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