It's hard to imagine while 4th of July activities are in full swing.  Yet, the first day of school is rapidly approaching. It is just about six weeks away here in San Angelo.  I don't know about you, but for me, the one thing I disliked most about going to school was that it started so early.

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In California, they've passed a law to do something about it.

Beginning this fall high schools in California can't start before 8:30am. Middle Schools can't start before 8am.  Similar proposals are being considered in Massachusetts and New Jersey as well.

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Studies have shown that teens do better on school work when they're most alert. Other studies have shown broader effects including a reduction in teen suicides, teen car accidents and better physical and mental health.

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This is mostly likely because adolescent bodies are wired to stay up later than other ages because of a later release time for the sleep hormone melatonin, according to scientists with the American Academy of Pediatrics.  They recommend that middle and high schools start at 8:30am or later. The Centers for Disease Control and prevention say 13-18 year olds need eight hours of sleep per night.

Despite all this, the National Center for Education Statistics says 42% of the nation's high schools start before 8am. 10% begin before 7:30am.

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Not everyone thinks this is a good idea.  There are always people resistent to change for any reason. In addition, some say later start times negatively impact single parent households, working class kids and poorer households where families may not have the option of starting their daily schedules later.

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There is also the fear that some afterschool activities can be negatively impacted. For me though, a later start time would have been just fine. The health risks to kids not getting enough sleep make this a topic that is definitely worth discussion.  How would you feel about a later start time for schools?

 

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