To: Dr. Christopher Koch, State Superintendent of the Illinois Board of Education, Dr. Gery J. Chico, Chairman of the Illinois Board of Education, and All Members of the Illinois Board of Education
Set 8am as the earliest opening class time for Illinois Public Schools
We respectfully request that the Illinois Board of Education 1) Establish a policy that no child of any age be required to be in class before 8am or on a bus before 7am, and 2) take immediate steps to implement this policy in the next school year.
Why is this important?
Considerable research confirms the relationship between school start times and sleep deprivation, 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 also 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.
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.
The most recent research in 2014 - by Wahlstrom, K. et al. titled “Examining the Impact of Later School Start Times on the Health and Academic Performance of High School Students: A Multi-Site Study,” from the Center for Applied Research and Educational Improvement. St. Paul, MN: University of Minnesota, - suggests that optimum student performance and safety would be achieved by starting school at 830am or later. We applaud those schools that are able to make such a change.