We get the sense that our leadership is looking for more proof, more data from other schools that changing start times "works". There is plenty of research that shows that it does work, in the way that we parents define it - it works if our kids are getting more sleep. And this isn’t the opinion of a few doctors and advocates. It is the consensus of the thousands of doctors of the AAP, AMA, CDC and other organizations. And, most importantly, it is the consensus of every pediatrician here in town, our own children’s doctors.
These doctors do not have agendas or ulterior motives. Why are we second-guessing their recommendations? And just to clarify those recommendations: They did not just say that teen sleep deprivation is a problem and changing school start times can help fix it. They showed that early school start times are a major cause of the dangerous levels of sleep deprivation in adolescents. That early school start times are a structural barrier to teens getting enough sleep. Yes, teens can get more sleep by improving their bedtime habits, but even with perfect sleep hygiene, until we change start times, they can never get ENOUGH sleep. And their research also showed that changing start times is a solution - When start times change, teens get more sleep. Problem, cause, solution.
But as parents, we don't really need the research to tell us that. We see it every morning when we wake up our kids at 6. We have no doubt that they would be much better off if they could sleep another hour. Like other 7th grade parents said, we remember what our kids were like in the 6th grade. Sleep was not an issue. Our kids weren't exhausted every morning, they didn't sleep through 2 alarms, we didn't have to go into their rooms 4 times to get them out of bed 15 minutes before the bus. They didn't sleep in their clothes or skip breakfast.
That all started on the first day of 7th grade when our school system began to systematically take an hour of sleep from them every school day. I don't know of any parent who would say that their kids' lives improved when that happened.
I think the reason that we elect a Board of Education is to ensure that our school district is doing what is best for our kids.
So, can any of you make the argument that the kids are better off sleeping an hour less every day this year and for the next five years than they did last year? Can you make the argument that they are no worse off sleeping, say, 8 hours instead of 9 hours or 7 hours instead of 8? If you can make that argument, if you have any ideas about how this might be better for the kids, then let's sit down and discuss it. If you can't do that, then we must follow the logic - we elect our BoE and hire the best administrators and teachers to do what is best for our kids - and taking an hour of sleep away is not good for them. It is harmful to them. So let's give that hour back.