School Days Should Start Later Essay Topics

School Should Start Later! A Persuasive Essay (Could Also Be Used As A Speech) About Why High School Should Start Later

Don't you hate waking up early in the morning? Almost every weekday, high school students are waking up around six o'clock in the morning to get ready for school, some even earlier. It's not practical for high school classes to start at 7:44. It's just too early for teenage minds to function properly. Our school should start at least an hour later than that. With the extra hour, our attendance would improve, as well as our grades and attitudes. The facts are all there, so why shouldn't the hours change?

For the 1997-1998 school year, the University of Minnesota conducted a study on Minneapolis high schools. Their starting times were changed from 7:15 to 8:40. The results of this change were obvious. Teachers reported that students were more alert during the first two periods of the day and that attendance improved by five percent. After such a revealing study, why aren't more schools catching on?

It's a proven fact that teenagers need between 8 ½ and nine hours of sleep each night. It's also a proven fact that only fifteen percent of teenagers get the sleep that they need. Can you believe that more than twenty-five percent of teenagers sleep less than seven hours a night? Are you one of those teenagers? Well, part of the reason why this is happening is because school starts so early in the morning. If school hours were changed, teenagers would be much healthier and feel better about themselves.

Furthermore, school officials are always complaining that so many of their students are constantly tardy to school. They even have a policy in our school that states, if you are tardy five times to a certain class you have to stay an hour after school sitting in detention. Out of the many reasons students receive an office detention for being tardy, it's usually due to their first period class. They don't get to school on time because they oversleep. With an extra hour, don't you think it would be much easier to get to school on time? According to the Michigan study, attendance for every grade in all of their Minneapolis high schools improved. So if these school officials don't like students being tardy, why don't they consider having school start...

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Yes

Mary Hamaker,Southborough parent, lawyer, and president of the Massachusetts Chapter of Start School Later, Inc.

Parents should take for granted that high school start time will be set to maximize the health, safety, and academic success of the students. The only discussion we should be having at this point is a collective conversation about the logistics to make that possible.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that teens average 8 to 9 hours of sleep per night. Unlike adults, teens cannot fall asleep until around 11 p.m. That is because their bodies do not produce melatonin, the natural chemical that instructs the body to sleep, until around 11 p.m. Pre-8:00 a.m. start time does not allow for enough sleep.

When teens don’t get enough sleep, they risk serious health problems. Grades are also negatively affected. The negative effect of early start time on disadvantaged students is even greater. Schools seeking to bring up grades for disadvantaged students have an obvious solution: give kids more sleep.

Moving start time later has huge benefits. Students sleep more during the school week when classes start later. Students also get better grades. Attendance increases and tardiness decreases. Athletes have fewer sports-related injuries. Car accident rates drop.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommended in August 2014 that middle and high schools should not commence before 8:30 a.m. According to the Brookings Institute, moving start time 1 hour later provides a 9 to 1 benefit to cost ratio and showed more improvement in grades than other efforts, like reducing classroom size.

Logistical issues can be overcome. Communities in Massachusetts have done it. They have adjusted bus and athletic competition schedules, and the timing for extracurricular activities. Families reset their personal logistics. There should not be a need to stay up later for homework. Well-rested students are able to complete homework more quickly.

College classes typically do not start before 8:30 a.m. The US Air Force Academy showed grades increased with a 50-minute later start time. Stanford University dumped a proposal to start classes at 8:30 a.m. Instead, in fall 2015, most classes at Stanford will not begin before 9:00 a.m. Why are we making our teens start class before 8 a.m.?

Early high school start time is a terrible idea. Let’s adjust the dialog to solving the logistics. Change is challenging, but the innovative citizens of Massachusetts are up to this task. We can solve this.

No

Julia Zaino,Natick resident and mother of two children

My daughter is in first grade this year and my son is due to enter Kindergarten next year. While I’m appreciative of the School Committee’s continued effort to gather all the necessary information to make a decision about whether to change of school start times, I’m opposed to the change and think it’s time we find a different avenue to help our teenagers navigate the stresses of balancing life with high school. One that doesn’t result in a greatly negative impact to parents of non-high school aged children.

Specifically, many families will be faced with the burden of incurring additional financial costs, whether it be needing to sign their child up for the Early Risers Program, the After School Program or having to pay for their child/children to take the bus to and from school. These additional costs, especially for those families with more than one child in the school system, can add up to hundreds of dollars. With the potential for increased use of these school programs, there’s also the issue of increased staffing needing to take place.

Although the research presented in favor of the time change shows the benefits of additional sleep, it’s important to note that many articles also show that sleep alone is not the answer. Children at the high-school level are too connected and too scheduled. Simply changing the hours of the day they are in school doesn’t address the complexity of what it is during their after school hours that keeps them up until late hours of the night. Of note, I found it ironic that this past fall a before school fitness class was created for high school students. This seems a bit contradictory given all the information being provided concerning the need for adequate sleep.

As a close friend of mine said, “We are not broken.” In fact, in the past five years Natick has built a new high-school, created two new schedules and implemented new evaluation systems. All of this seems to be working well as we are being recognized as one of the top 50 high schools in the state. I firmly believe that other methods can be used to assist our high school students that will not impact the community of Natick as a whole.

This question was posed by Globe correspondent Jennifer Fenn Lefferts. She can be reached at jflefferts@yahoo.com.

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