To: President Joe Biden, The United States House of Representatives, and The United States Senate
Promote legislation to prevent public schools from starting before 8 a.m.
Considerable research confirms the relationship between school start times, sleep deprivation, and student performance, truancy, and absenteeism, as well as depression, mood swings, impulse control, tobacco and alcohol use, impaired cognitive function and decision-making, obesity, stimulant abuse, automobile accidents, and suicide. Mounting evidence about the biology of adolescent sleep, and about the impact of later start times, shows that starting school before 8 a.m. not only undermines academic achievement but endangers health and safety. Because logistical and financial issues prevent local school systems from establishing safe and educationally defensible hours, however, legislation mandating start times consistent with student health and educational well-being is essential.
Why is this important?
Many high schools today start school in the 7 o'clock hour, a practice started several decades ago to save money by recycling school bus runs. Now considerable research confirms that these school start times are inconsistent with sleep needs of teenagers and young adults and are seriously undermining school performance as well as children's health and welfare. Because politics, money, and other logistical issues inevitably keep most school systems from changing start times, we need a national minimum start time for all public schools to make it easier for communities to do what's best for the safety, health, and learning of all children of every age when they set local schedules.