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EDITORIAL: Starting school later may not help students as much as we think



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The RAND Corporation, a nonpartisan public policy organization, is arguing that later school start times could lead to a large financial payoff. But it may not be worth the extra consequences.

RAND argues that kids will be better rested and better functioning in the classroom and have better attendance records. However, late start also cuts into a lot of time for extracurricular activities and jobs since late start also means late release.

Another aspect of our education system that late start affects is the lunch program. For many public schools who are participating in the free and reduced lunch plan, a late start could mean a child dependent on this program could eat only one meal a day for free or at a reduced price instead of two. 

Coupled with a later release time, this change would likely disproportionately affect students from less fortunate families who may rely on two free or reduced meals or who need to make it to work right after school.

Late start days also are not synonymous with more sleep. In an article from the National Sleep Foundation, proponents for a later start to school claim extracurriculars and work should be scheduled before school starts in order to compensate for the later release. But if you have to get up early to complete tasks before school, are you really getting these kids more sleep? 

Another issue with changing start times is specific to schools that have no bus transportations, such as some charter and public schools. If the parents work in the morning and there is no provided transportation, parents will be hard-pressed to get their children to school. 

We don’t disagree more sleep creates better students. A good night’s sleep is important for mental and physical health. Everyone, especially adolescents and teens, would benefit from more sleep before the seven-hour school day. 

But instead of pushing start times back, the Editorial Board believes assigning less homework could provide for more sleep.

All in all, it is no secret that having more time for sleep produces greater results in school, work and otherwise. A study published in Science Direct shows that when kids have more time to sleep, attendance and college enrollment increases as well. 

However, if a late start makes it harder to get to school as well as balance a job, it might cause more harm than good in the long run.

Changing school start times seems like a good idea, but it hurts kids who have to hold a job after school to support themselves and help out their families. 

It also does not serve the kids with after-school activities that will not be home for dinner until 8 p.m. If we want teens to get more sleep, reducing the homework load will allow for an earlier end to the night instead of pushing school back an hour or two.  

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