According to the National Sleep Foundation (NSF), students who have later start times get five more hours a week of sleep (Facts, n.d.). That is one more hour a day! A congressional resolution for reconsidering school start times was presented by Representative Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) called “ZZZ’s to A’s” or H.C. Res. 135 back in April 2, 1999 (Start Time and Sleep, n.d.). Lofgren argued that students are not getting enough sleep, which is resulting in more students being sleep deprived (Start Time and Sleep, n.d.). Lofgren tried making efforts to pass the H.R. 1306 (114th ): ZZZ’s to A’s Act again in 2015. She reintroduced the bill back on April 28, 2017, but according to the status of the bill on the www.govtrack.us website it “died in a previous congress”(GovTrack.us, 2019).
The goal of Lofgren’s congressional resolution was to “encourage individual schools and school districts all over the country to move school start times to no earlier than 8:30 A.M.” (Congresswoman, 2003). Even though Lofgren’s bill was not passed, there has been a large amount of feedback from school districts all across the nation who have been pushing back their start times (Congresswoman, 2003). Lofgren created the bill in 1999, however only four years later “34 school districts across 19 states have pushed school start times, and the research has led almost 100 additional school district changes” (Congresswoman, 2003). Lofgren encourages school’s to look at current research when deciding on altering their schools start times.
There are many outcomes of pushing back a schools start time, which include a decrease in students falling asleep in class, a greater improvement in reaction time, and a decrease in tardiness (Minges & Redeker, 2015). Minges and Redeker (2015) found existing evidence that a student’s overall health, academic performance, classroom engagement, sleep duration, a reduction in caffeine usage, and depression will improve as well. In order for teens to preform their very best, they need to get the correct amount of sleep. What is the correct amount? The NSF suggests that teens should get about 8 to 10 hours of sleep everyday (Facts, n.d.). Students who slept less are more prone to feeling nervous, unhappy, tense, and are worried about too many things (Facts, n.d.).
Fast forward to today, still not every school district has pushed back the start times as Lofgren had hoped. An advocacy group named “Start School Later” was created by students, sleep scientists, concerned citizens, educators, and healthcare professionals (About, n.d.). These individuals are dedicated to increase the public’s awareness on school start times, while also making sure they are compatible with an individuals “health, safety, education, and equity” (About, n.d.). This organization advocates for the push of school start times in legislation at local, national, and state levels (About, n.d.). Their webpage has a comprehensive list of various bills categorized by state that have or have not been successful. According to the State School Later webpage on legislation, at least 14 states have introduced a bill related to school hours. To take a look at these further, please do so here. https://www.startschoollater.net/legislation.html
Out of the 14 bills, only 4 have been state successes. One certification program in particular from the state of Maryland recognizes the school districts who implement the push in school start times with an Orange Ribbon for Healthy School Hours certification. This is how the school districts make sure that they are staying “consistent with the hours recommended by the Maryland Department of Education and specified organization” (Legislation, n.d.). This is a great way for parents, educators, and concerned citizens alike to make sure their school districts are following the correct protocols for the start time pushbacks.
Now that you’re more informed on the legislation for school start times in the U.S., what are you going to do about it? Are you going to join an advocacy group to help promote the bills toward legislation or are you going to let this topic sit on the back burner? The choice is yours.
About Us. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.startschoollater.net/about-us.html
Congresswoman Lofgren Urges Congress to ‘Wake-Up’ to the Problems of Adolescents Not Getting Enough. (2003). Retrieved from https://lofgren.house.gov/media/press-releases/congresswoman-lofgren-urges-congress-wake-problems-adolescents-not-getting
Facts. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.sleepfoundation.org/articles/teens-and-sleep
GovTrack.us. (2019). H.R. 1306 — 114th Congress: ZZZ’s to A’s Act. Retrieved from https://www.govtrack.us/congress/bills/114/hr1306
Legislation. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.startschoollater.net/legislation.html
Start time and Sleep. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.sleepfoundation.org/articles/school-start-time-and-sleep
Minges, K. E., & Redeker, N. S. (2015;2016;). Delayed school start times and adolescent sleep: A systematic review of the experimental evidence. Sleep Medicine Reviews, 28, 82-91. doi:10.1016/j.smrv.2015.06.002