Parent Groups Join Forces to Push for Later High School Start Time

The Parents Advocacy Network (PAN) has teamed up with Anne Arundel County-based Start School Later to request later, healthier hours for AACPS.

You may have heard all the hubbub about the push to start Montgomery County High Schools later - culminating in the delivery of a petition with over 10,000 names on it today to the Montgomery County Board of Education. Well, Montgomery County with its 7:25 a.m. school start times has nothing on us here in Anne Arundel.

Besides being the proud owners of the very earliest high school start time in Maryland (7:17 a.m.!) and home of the national Start School Later coalition, Anne Arundel County has its own chapter of Start School Later, and its own petition. It also has a new partnership with the Parents Advocacy Network, an independent citizens group formed last year to improve Anne Arundel County public schools.

Readers who have been following the later start time issue might be interesting in the following press release, just issued by Joanna Conti, PAN's chair and founder:

Anne Arundel County’s high school start time of 7:17 a.m. is the earliest in Maryland and one of the earliest in the country.  The Parents Advocacy Network has teamed up with the national organization Start School Later to request that our public schools start classes no earlier than 8:00 a.m.  Almost 2,000 Anne Arundel County residents have already signed a petition supporting this change.

A tremendous amount of research in recent years has compellingly shown that very early start times are hurting our children’s health and educational achievement”, said Joanna Conti, Chair of the Parents Advocacy Network.  “I was particularly struck by the number of comments made by teachers who signed the petition about how barely alert many Anne Arundel students are in their first period classes.”
Terra Snider, Co-Chair of Start School Later, adds:   "The concerns opponents typically raise about costs, sports, jobs, daycare, etc. turn out to be largely myths. School hours that allow our children to get adequate sleep and maximize their health, safety, and academic success should be considered as fundamental - and non-negotiable - as heating the schools. Communities that have put children's health and well-being first have been able to find creative solutions, and so can AACPS if it has the will to do so."
If you agree that high schools should start later, please sign the petition at www.AACStartTime.com.  To learn more or to help advocate for change, visit www.ParentsAdvocacyNetwork.org/starttime.

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DC December 14, 2012 at 05:41 AM
I laugh. I cry. There is ZERO data... that supports the theory of "doing just fine with live ammo" after 2 hours of sleep is the optimal level of performance. Every appliance we operate, every extension cord to sump pump to air traffic control radar has a duty cycle and a life cycle and operating instructions, cautions and warnings! I suspect your training officer knew at what point sleep deprivation would make you a little jumpy. Heck, sleep deprivation is a torture tool. When something is operated on overdrive -beyond thresholds- it no longer produces OPTIMAL performance. In schools "just fine" or "it worked for me" is simply settling and a cop out. To some degree it seems to suggest "As I was abused, so shall you be". We are AMERICANS. We DO NOT and SHOULD NOT settle! . Schools aren’t collecting teens in the dark because the teens operate optimally. They collect them in the dark, induce sleep deprivation in a week’s course and then shrug at the idea of better student life if it threatens a transportation budget. Members of the public deserve to hear the teen sleep science instead of a bunch of Marines thinking that teenagers should desire to learn under in theater conditions. Your anecdotal arguments are tiresome and symbolize all that is wrong with community activism. Being a community blockade does not equal same.
Jeff Andrade December 14, 2012 at 04:51 PM
I guess DC must stand for "Dramatic Comments".
Hamilton Tyler December 15, 2012 at 12:46 AM
Private schools may start whenver they choose. Do any start at 7:15 am or 7:30 am? No. They tend to be 8:00 am or later. As the parent of two high school teens, they are still half asleep in the morning. This is why the private schools (and I think the public schools) rotate the schedules so that students don't have the same class first every day.
Jeff Andrade December 15, 2012 at 07:15 AM
Actually, private schools are constrained by practicalities similar to public schools and the start times can vary significantly. You have day schools like the Severn School and St. Mary's, but you also have boarding schools and some that have both boarding and day students. Some have upper and lower schools, some don't. Some provide transportation, some don't. Many day schools typically have students that live further away and have longer commutes than in public schools. The other thing you see is what is considered "starting school" can vary. For example, a lot of boarding schools start the organized day before 8 with physical activity or sports practices, and they also must serve breakfast. I have seen day schools with clubs or study halls first thing in the AM. I know a private military high school in NY where they get up at 6 AM, get washed, dressed and straighten up the barracks, do their morning formation before 7 am, and have breakfast, tutorials and office hours all before their 8 AM class -- and those kids start getting ready for bed at 9:30 and lights out at 10, and they keep that same sleep/wake schedule on the weekend. Scheduling varies too, Severn School for example is on a rotating schedule with 60 minute classes, while St. Mary's has a set block schedule with 85 minute classes. Teachers and students at either school will likely say they their way works best. So schools adapt to their constraints and students in turn adapt to the schedule.
R.E. Young December 28, 2012 at 08:38 PM
I guess I am trying to understanding why this is such a hot topic. I realize that I am late seeing this article, but I did want to just add a comment. Anne Arundel County has apparently had early start times for decades. You see, I graduated from Arundel High School almost 30 years ago. I remember catching the bus at around 6:40am. I remember school starting around 7:15am. I remember participating in the band and other extra-curricular activities. I don't remember my parents petitioning for later start times. I have a daughter who survived the same and one who will begin the same schedule next year. No, I am not a health care professional, but I am a darn good parent who simply believes that it is ok to get my kids out of bed at 5:30am to get their day started. I'm not trying to provoke an argument. I just want to understand why this is being considered so detrimental.


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