When the LUSD School Board tried to investigate changing the start time of its schools, few parents attended meetings to give their input. Those that did were almost all opposed to the later start time that was being requested.
Students sleep in class. They walk blindly during passing period. They slump in their seats. It’s too early for this is a common refrain. Studies show that students’ brains aren’t quite ready to function yet at an early time; this is common knowledge. So why are high school students required to wake up too soon and come to school before they can focus?
Well, because it’s more convenient for their parents.
In any proposed establishment of a later start time for a school, parents have been the most vocal opponents; they realize that their work schedules would likely conflict with their parental duty to drive their children to school.
While it makes sense that an earlier start time is more convenient for parents, it is not what is best for their kids. The American Academy of Pediatrics, among other medical and scientific organizations, all agree that teenagers’ circadian rhythms affect melatonin levels in teenagers.
These melatonin levels can keep students’ focused and awake at appropriate times; ‘appropriate times’ are after schools expect students to be active and ready to learn.
If students can’t learn until a certain time, shouldn’t parents be willing to sacrifice so that they actually spend valuable time expanding their knowledge during school instead of just sleeping in class? This issue, however, is not limited to students; as a community, we need to come together to ensure that our high school students are healthy and focused so that they can learn to the best of their ability.
To facilitate this change, employers need to be flexible and understanding toward employees who drop of their children at school in the morning. For those parents who complain about their high-school age students not being able to watch their siblings or babysit other children, an after school program can be expanded, or a latchkey program can be developed at the earlier grades. It is not solely up to the students or their parents to look out for their education; a larger effort must go into the education of our youth, one step at a time, and a later start time and appropriate accommodations is a good start.
In light of SB-328, LUSD should revisit the change and work with both employers and parents to find a compromise that both works with their schedules and is not harmful for the students; we need a better solution than the system currently in place.