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Petition Drive to Open Schools Later in the Day

A national petition drive has been started to advocate for a later time of day to start school for teenagers.

The crusade for to provide adolescent students with more time for sleep is making its way across the nation.

A petition to promote legislation that would prohibit public schools from starting the school day before 8 a.m. has garnered 1,437 of the 5,000 signatures it needs before it can be brought before Congress, the Senate, and President Barack Obama.

Start School Later, a group of parents, medical professionals, and caregivers, is circulating the petition and recently contacted the Fairfield school district about the push for later starts for middle and , which commence before the recommended 8:30 a.m. start time.

The case of more sleep for teenaged students

According to the Sleep Foundation, only 14 percent of teenagers get the recommended nine hours of sleep on a school night.

A study conducted by the University of Minnesota found that adolescents have trouble falling asleep before 11 at night and so having to wake up and get to school only a little more than seven hours later prohibits teens from getting enough sleep.

Dennis Nolan, an advocate for the Start School Later petition, provided several studies and information supporting a later start for middle and high schools.

  • “To safeguard the welfare and intellectual potential of these students, sleep experts urge a delay in morning classes until 8:30 a.m., or later,” Nolan said of the start time suggested by the sleep experts (refer to the PDF included in the photo gallery).
  • New York Magazine reported the findings of sleep expert Dr. Avi Sadeh of Tel Aviv University, who said, “A loss of one hour of sleep is equivalent to [the loss of] two years of cognitive maturation and development.”
  • Teens who get more sleep are more alert in the morning and therefore less likely to be involved in car accidents, the leading cause of death among adolescents, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The Start School Later petition can be viewed and electronically signed here.

Editor's note: Here are some other articles about starting school later:

Terra Ziporyn Snider, Ph.D. January 05, 2012 at 02:10 AM
Correction: the link to Dennis Nolan's website is schoolstarttime.org.
bart shea January 06, 2012 at 03:55 AM
Citizen, Your close time clock has no connection to reality. Nothing ever works out as you would hope and think. Reality is, all schedules at all schools are dictated by the bus schedules and the availability of a single bus to serve HS, MS and ES. Simple logistics. A single bus has to pick up and deliver for/to three schools. Love to know how the above studies proposed funding a three tiered school bus program. Easy to suggest what is optimal. Very hard to make optimal a reality.
Citizen January 09, 2012 at 03:03 PM
Bart, I think you missed my point all together. I was creating a best case example intentionally to point out the inherent strains on the schedules of children. I wasn't trying to replicate reality nor was I saying that my hypothetical was JBHS's schedule. I was using simple numbers to illustrate my point. If we are talking about JBHS then, what of the argument that it has to open earliest so its students can pursue part time work after school? That's how it's been explained to me.
Terra Ziporyn Snider, Ph.D. January 14, 2012 at 03:49 AM
Happy to report that we're now over halfway to our goal of 5,000 names, with much of the recent progress attributable to petitioners from Southern CT. Thanks so much for your support of this complicated but critical effort, and please keep signing and sharing the link to the petition ( http://bit.ly/tWa4dS ) if you support this effort.
Terra Ziporyn Snider, Ph.D. February 28, 2012 at 03:00 PM
Update: We're delivering this petition (http://bit.ly/tWa4dS) to members of Congress, including those representing Southern CT, on March 7 if we get to goal of 5000 names by then. Right now we're at 4100, so please keep signing and sharing the link if you're tired of waiting for schools to "wake up" to the idea that it's time to put health and learning first. Meanwhile, thanks for all your support!

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