This is . Not coincidently, a petition is making the rounds on the Internet in support of prohibiting all public schools from starting classes before 8 a.m.
Coronado public schools start around 8 am. The high school starts at 7:55 a.m.
The middle school starts at 7:58 a.m. Both Village and Strand elementary schools start at 8:15 a.m.
However, many schools in San Diego County and across the country start earlier than 8 a.m., with some starting classes as early as 7 a.m.
The National Sleep Foundation states teenagers need at least nine hours of sleep each night. For today's overscheduled and technology-addicted youth, natural sleep cycles already are disrupted: They aren't usually able to fall asleep early even if they log off Facebook and turn off the lights by 10 a.m.
One expert likens the factors contributing to poor sleep patterns in teens as “the perfect storm.”
"We can think in general of two major factors: behavior, by which I mean all the psychological, parental, societal, cultural features of a teen’s life, and biological, by which I mean the brain processes that regulate the amount and timing of sleep," writes Mary A. Carskadon, Ph.D., a professor of Psychiatry and Human Behavior at Brown Medical School in Providence, R.I.
"The (daily biological clock) seems to slow down and lag behind as young people progress through the middle school years. At the same time, the sleep pressure system appears to change in a way that makes it easier to stay awake longer, though without changing the amount of sleep that is needed."
A coalition of parents and medical professionals is committed to changing crack-of-dawn school start times in the best interests of kids. Those behind the growing Start School Later campaign are working to raise awareness about the negative effects sleep deprivation and early school hours have on students, especially teenagers.
On the other hand, there are some who think changing school start
times is akin to coddling kids, and that early start times are no big deal.
Proponents of starting school early say getting up in the early hours for
school is helping kids get ready to deal with real world responsibilities.
Tonia Accetta – There are obvious advantages of starting school at a later time in the day, kids getting more sleep! Or do they? If only it was that simple. I am from the UK where the school bell rings at 9 a.m. and I would feel just as grumpy heading for school at 9 a.m. as my son does today staring at 8 a.m. I believe that start times for schools have been guided by safety, depending on the daylight hours in your community and rural verses urban areas. Parents and the kids themselves have the ultimate control over their spare time and while some may choose to sleep, others will be filling their schedules with more and more extracurricular activities. Changing the start time may not be a magic pill to success.
Tam Dorow – Growing up in Michigan and solidly steeped in the work ethic of midwestern farmers prevalent in the area, I don't understand sleeping in. However, all the recent studies and research on sleep patterns of teenagers indicate many teenagers need to sleep in the morning. There are no other pragmatic reasons to start school at or earlier than 7 a.m. We don't need the kids home early in the afternoon to help out at the farm anymore. If it's what they need physiologically and psychologically and there are no other compelling reasons to do otherwise, let them sleep in and get the rest they need to function. In other parts of the country teenagers get to school before 7 a.m., pre-dawn a lot of the year, and they are driving while they are very sleepy. It's akin to sending an impaired person on the road, oh, during rush hour traffic. It does not make sense. This is an opportunity for us to signal to kids that we listen to their needs, we make changes when it makes sense, we are capable of evolving and we care about their well-being.
I still cannot believe I'm advocating (for) sleeping in.
Suzette Valle – I recall driving to high school in the dark. School started at 7 a.m. in Mexico and there was no recourse for us to change this at all then. We also didn't have the distractions tech gadgets create, nor demanding AP (Advanced Placement) courses with burdensome homework, onerous sports schedules or a slew of extracurricular activities today's teens must bear to become appealing college applicants.
Yes, sleep is a scarce commodity around here. Having said this, we've gone through the entire public school system in Coronado with our children, and we think there is a good balance of start times and choices for students to work with during their high school years.
Changing school start times across the board might help those who start too early and may be exposed to dangerous situations trying to get to school driving in the dark. Nevertheless, the real problem seems to lie with the ridiculous work load and commitments impinging on adolescents' sleep time in order to survive today's competitive college admissions environment.
Tonia Accetta is stay-at-home mom of a teenage boy and a preteen girl. She moved to Coronado in 2002 with her husband of 15 years.
Tam Dorow emigrated from Vietnam when she was 10. She worked at all of the Big 3 U.S. car companies and has been a stay-at-home mom of two for the last 10 years.
Suzette Valle is a 20-year Coronado resident who was recognized by Time Warner as one of the local “50 Best Moms” in 2006. She has appeared on the Dr. Phil Show and blogs at MamarazziKnowsBest.com.