Why school should start later in the day
Each fall, groggy teenagers resign themselves to another year of fighting their body clocks so they can get to class on time. It’s well known that teens who don’t get at least eight hours of sleep a night face a slew of problems. That’s why both the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Centers for Disease Control recommend shifting middle- and high-school start times to 8:30 a.m. or later. Yet during the 2011-12 school year — the most recent statistics available — only 17.7 % of the nation’s public middle, high and combined schools met the 8:30 a.m. guideline, and nearly 40% started before 8 a.m. In California, the average start time was 8:07 a.m.
Many districts are reluctant to change their schedules because they see the shift as too expensive and disruptive. But that’s short-sighted. In the long run, a later start could actually save schools money — and benefit society at large.