Image credited to Ella D.
Should School Start Later?
Your alarm rings. You stretch, turn over, and hit the snooze button. Five minutes later, your alarm starts blaring again. You groan and cover your head with your pillow. What you would give for another half hour of sleep? This is a typical morning for many students at Day Creek and throughout the state of California. As students arrive at school, they are exhausted and could easily fall asleep before their head hits the table. A later start time might solve that problem for some students.
“I think school should start a little bit later so kids don’t have to wake up at 6 in the morning. Some kids wake up at 6 a.m just to get to school and get ready,” said 7th grader, Ellie K.
According to the Nationwide Children’s Hospital, middle schoolers need about 9 hours of sleep. Yet, students often can’t go to sleep because they are stuck under piles of homework due the following day. Add in sports activities and youth group events, all regular teen activities, and 9 hours of sleep is nearly impossible with such an early school start time. Changing the bell schedule could fix that. But what time would be best?
‘’Between 8 to 8:30 is good. I feel later would be too late,” said 6th grader, Alisha G.
California is considering passing a bill where schools could start no earlier than 8:30 am. Senate Bill 328 was created by Senator Anthony Portantino in an effort to push back those morning alarms. Districts that have tried this have seen better GPAs, attendance, and test scores.
“The reason for a change [in school times] has now become clear. The science is sound and the results back up the science, so I think it is appropriate to make the change for California. [Sleep] is what started [the bill]. Teenagers’ brain chemistry is wired. They can’t typically fall asleep before 11 o’clock at night. Even if parents put their kids to bed at 9, they won’t fall asleep till 11. That’s why adjusting the school start times to the internal teenager clock makes sense,” said Senator Anthony Portantino.
With a politician behind the movement, a conversation is taking place among administration and students on campus.
“I would be for [the bill] if it didn’t extend the school time. Then, we wouldn’t have enough time to do homework,” said Gavin L., an 8th grader on campus.
However, some are against this idea. They are concerned that this could be an expensive change or not effective at all. Mr. Apodaca, Day Creek’s principal, believes that changing the start time begins isn’t the solution.
“I don’t see [the bill] making a big difference. If you start later, then you’ll end later. You have to think about the domino effect [the bill] has. I actually think there more negatives than positives. I don’t believe that this is the solution. There is a problem, but I don’t think that this is the solution,” said Mr. Apodaca.
The bill has succeeded in creating a conversation that reflects different sides of the issue. While most agree that there is a problem, different perspectives exist regarding a solution. Yet most agree that sleepy teenagers in class are a significant issue and something needs to be done.