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house Bill H.R. 1861

Should School Start Times for Middle & High Schoolers Be Delayed?

Argument in favor

U.S. middle and high schools start too early for the average adolescent’s sleep cycle, which tends to naturally fall towards sleeping later and waking up later. This has numerous consequences for students, which the Secretary of Education should investigate in order to develop appropriate rules on school start times.

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09/06/2019
The facts show that it’s better, but that’s science. Betsy may think it’s fake.
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Sarah's Opinion
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09/06/2019
Our son transferred to a school that ran 9-5. In mid-afternoon, the students had time to complete their homework. Volunteer tutors from local colleges helped students if needed. Our son’s interest in school and college blossomed. I strongly support late start for adolescent students.
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09/06/2019
As a freshman in high school myself, I hate to wake up at 6:30 AM for school. You people don’t realize how stupid the department of education is for not delaying those times and instead choose making every student sleep deprived which negatively affects their grades. The school system is flawed, and it needs changing ASAP.
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Argument opposed

Delaying school start times for middle and high school students would have vast ripple effects. Parents, elementary schools, and communities would all be negatively affected. Additionally, it’s not entirely clear, based on current research, whether delaying school start times would actually lead to adolescents getting more sleep.

jimK's Opinion
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09/06/2019
First, I believe this is not a once-size-fits-all question. Communities in different areas tend to work around schedules that are best for most people that live there. I have moved around the country a few times and I can assure you that where I live now, people tend to start and end their day earlier than people tended to where I lived last. It sucks, but I had to adapt. School times need to be set in accord with locality needs and preferences. Secondly, circadian rhythms were cited as a factor but there is one full hour difference in solar time for folks living at opposite ends of the same time zone. Again community locality within a time zone is the overriding factor for circadian rhythm concerns and not the actual ‘clock’ time. So, I do not believe the proposed studies would be of much value.
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Azrael's Opinion
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09/06/2019
And will we adjust work hours to fit school schedules? No one wants to get up at 4 am to drive an hour to work Shift work is bad for adults Will we abolish shift work? A routine and a little bit of self discipline prepares children for the real world
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Bryan's Opinion
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09/06/2019
This is a state and local school district issue. Let them decide what’s best for them. Adhere to the 10th Amendment Congress.
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bill Progress


  • Not enacted
    The President has not signed this bill
  • The senate has not voted
  • The house has not voted
      house Committees
      Committee on Education and Labor
    IntroducedMarch 25th, 2019

What is House Bill H.R. 1861?

This bill — the ZZZ’s to A’s Act — would direct the Secretary of Education to conduct a study to determine the relationship between school start times and adolescent health, well-being, and performance. The study would be conducted either directly by the Secretary of Education or through the award of a grant or contract, and Congress would receive the study’s findings along with any recommendations contained in the report. 

Specifically, the study would: 

  • Provide a comprehensive review of the scientific evidence relating to school start times and adolescent health, well-being, and performance;
  • Compare adolescent health, well-being, and performance among local educational agencies with different school start times; and
  • Evaluate factors that contribute to or affect school start times.

Currently, the Secretary of Education has not promulgated any rules on school start times. Thus, individual school districts and schools set their own start times.

Impact

Middle and high school students; schools; school districts; school start times; and the Secretary of Education.

Cost of House Bill H.R. 1861

A CBO cost estimate is unavailable.

More Information

In-DepthRep. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) reintroduced this bill from the 115th Congress to examine the relationship between school start times and adolescent health, well-being, and performance

"Students across the United States are not getting enough sleep at night – this affects not just their academic performance, but their health, safety, and well-being. We know that as kids become teens their biology keeps them from getting to sleep as early, which can make it harder for them to wake up early in the morning. This legislation will help local school districts recognize and use new information about the importance of sufficient sleep and the impact that school start times can have on adolescent health and performance."

The American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) expressed support for this bill in the 115th Congress. In a letter to Rep. Lofgren, its president, Ronald Chervin, MD, MS, wrote: 

“On behalf of the board of directors of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM), I am writing to express our strong support for the ‘ZZZ’s to A’s Act,’ which you have reintroduced in the U.S. House of Representatives… The AASM recommends that teenagers 13 to 18 years of age should sleep 8 to 10 hours on a regular basis to promote optimal health. However, CDC data show that 68.4 percent of high school students report sleeping 7 hours or less on school nights. Early middle school and high school start times work contrary to adolescent circadian physiology and truncate students’ sleep opportunity, resulting in chronic sleep loss. Studies show that short sleep in adolescents is associated with poor school performance, obesity, increased depressive symptoms, suicidal ideation and risk- taking behaviors. Insufficient sleep also is associated with an increased risk of motor vehicle accidents, which account for 35 percent of all deaths and 73 percent of deaths from unintentional injury in teenagers. Research suggests that later school start times are associated with longer weekday sleep durations, reduced vehicular accident rates, and reduced subjective daytime sleepiness. The AASM recently published a position statement encouraging primary academic institutions, school boards, parents, and policy makers to raise public awareness to promote a national standard of middle school and high school start times of 8:30 a.m. or later. Therefore, we support your bill to direct the Secretary of Education to conduct a study to determine the relationship between school start times and adolescent health, well-being, and performance.” 

Those who oppose later school start times frequently cite parents’ work schedules, transportation logistics, and effects on extracurricular activities as reasons for their opposition. They point out that when school starts at 7:30am, most parents can see their teenagers off to school before going to work at 8:30am or 9:00am themselves; if schools change start times to 8:30am or later, parents won’t be able to drive their kids to school and still get to work on time. It might also mean that teens will have to get themselves up, prepare breakfast themselves, and head to school on their own. 

From a logistics perspective, many school districts use the same buses for elementary school students as they do for high school students. Thus, if middle and high school start times were delayed, school districts would need to either also delay elementary schools’ start times or invest in hiring additional bus drivers to transport their students. 

Finally, for students who participate in sports, music groups, service learning clubs, or other organizations, a later start time for their school day would push their extracurriculars to later in the day. This would make it difficult for students to participate in such activities and still have enough time to study, complete homework assignments, participate in social activities, and sleep at a reasonable hour.

A 2017 joint study between Harvard Medical School and the University of Surrey in the U.K. also cast doubts on whether later school start times would actually help teenagers get more sleep. The study, pushed in Scientific Reports, used a mathematical model factoring in whether people are naturally more of a morning or evening person, natural and artificial light’s effects on the body clock, and the typical time of an alarm clock, to predict the effects of delaying school start times. The model showed that delaying school start times wouldn’t help reduce sleep deprivation in the U.K.; however, it did lend some support to delaying school start in the U.S., where school start earlier than in the U.K. 

Most importantly, however, the model suggested that an alternative to moving school start times in the U.K. is exposure to bright light during the day and turning the lights down in the evening and off at night. For very early start times, such as in some U.S. regions, the model indicated that any benefit gained from delaying school start times could be lost unless coupled with strict limits on the amount of evening artificial light consumption.

This legislation doesn’t have any cosponsors in the 116th Congress. Last Congress, it had 19 bipartisan cosponsors, including 18 Democrats and one Republican, and didn’t receive a committee vote.

Rep. Lofgren has been a longtime supporter of a later school start time. She first introduced the ZZZ’s to A’s Act in 1998, and has introduced subsequent versions consistently ever since.


Of NoteThere is evidence that delayed school days help reduce tardiness, improve attendance and performance, and boost driving safety. Research has shown that many adolescents’ natural biological sleep pattern is to go to sleep and wake up at later times. 

However, many high schools in the U.S. start before 7:30a.m. This seems to have some serious consequences for adolescents. For example, in 2014, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) published a position statement recognizing “insufficient sleep in adolescents as a public health issue.” In that paper, the AAP recommended that middle and high schools aim for start times no earlier than 8:30a.m.

Similarly, in 2016, the American Medical Association (AMA) noted that while delayed school start times can be emotional and potentially stressful for school districts, families, and community members, “the health benefits for adolescents far outweigh any potential negative consequences."

Additionally, in the April 2017 issue of the Journal of Sleep Medicine, the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) also expressed support for the no-earlier-than-8:30am standard. It explained, “early school start times make it difficult for adolescents to get sufficient sleep on school nights, and chronic sleep loss among teens is associated with [a] host of problems, including poor school performance, increased depressive symptoms, and motor vehicle accidents."

There’s also evidence that later school start times would benefit the economy. In August 2017, the RAND Corporation released an economic study showing that delaying schools’ start times, which would subsequently improve students’ academic performance and reduce car crash rates, would contribute $83 billion to the U.S. economy over 10 years.


Media:

Summary by Lorelei Yang

(Photo Credit: iStockphoto.com / South_agency)

AKA

To direct the Secretary of Education to conduct a study to determine the relationship between school start times and adolescent health, well-being, and performance.

Official Title

To direct the Secretary of Education to conduct a study to determine the relationship between school start times and adolescent health, well-being, and performance.

    The facts show that it’s better, but that’s science. Betsy may think it’s fake.
    Like (83)
    Follow
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    First, I believe this is not a once-size-fits-all question. Communities in different areas tend to work around schedules that are best for most people that live there. I have moved around the country a few times and I can assure you that where I live now, people tend to start and end their day earlier than people tended to where I lived last. It sucks, but I had to adapt. School times need to be set in accord with locality needs and preferences. Secondly, circadian rhythms were cited as a factor but there is one full hour difference in solar time for folks living at opposite ends of the same time zone. Again community locality within a time zone is the overriding factor for circadian rhythm concerns and not the actual ‘clock’ time. So, I do not believe the proposed studies would be of much value.
    Like (69)
    Follow
    Share
    Our son transferred to a school that ran 9-5. In mid-afternoon, the students had time to complete their homework. Volunteer tutors from local colleges helped students if needed. Our son’s interest in school and college blossomed. I strongly support late start for adolescent students.
    Like (71)
    Follow
    Share
    As a freshman in high school myself, I hate to wake up at 6:30 AM for school. You people don’t realize how stupid the department of education is for not delaying those times and instead choose making every student sleep deprived which negatively affects their grades. The school system is flawed, and it needs changing ASAP.
    Like (64)
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    Lots of studies show the need for this. Kids need more sleep.
    Like (42)
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    Absolutely. Teenagers aren't getting enough sleep and are overwhelmed as it is with excessive homework and extracurricular activities. The system implies that you must work your life away in order to be successful and happy. Americans are overworked, stressed, obese, and unhealthy. It starts with our children, and the whole system needs a serious reform. There is more to life than work all day.
    Like (26)
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    And will we adjust work hours to fit school schedules? No one wants to get up at 4 am to drive an hour to work Shift work is bad for adults Will we abolish shift work? A routine and a little bit of self discipline prepares children for the real world
    Like (24)
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    This is a state and local school district issue. Let them decide what’s best for them. Adhere to the 10th Amendment Congress.
    Like (22)
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    Bottom line teens who start school earlier are 7x more likely to be sleep deprived. Continual sleep deprivation has a strong connection to a low hate rate variability. Which in turn, has a strong connection to depression, low esteem, and less resiliency. 🎯So... let the darn kids sleep in a little later and there is a good chance our society will have have fewer depressed/suicidal teens. Note of interest: Since the legislator, Zoe Lofgren, proposing the bill has a strong track record in promoting/protecting the well-being of kids, you can pretty much trust her accuracy. She is also the same legislator who after pushing for a ban on assault rifles, was the target of the recent mass shootings (garlic festival). https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/heart-rate-variability-new-way-track-well-2017112212789 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3104443/ https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/media-spotlight/201807/when-children-have-nightmares
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    That’s what the scientific evidence suggests. Staggering start times also helps school district save money by reducing the number of buses needed. Also reduces school traffic in districts where several schools are close together.
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    Fuck yeah. School should not be defined by torture that’s what the military is for.
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    It’s about time we chose some common sense teaching instructions in our children’s lives. It’s been proven to show that this is very beneficial to them and helps with their scores.
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    I live in a district with later middle and high school start times. All this did was shift extra curricular activities to before school instead of after. Band, cheer, dance, and sports all meet before school, as early as 6am.
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    When you join the real world and have to work, nobody is going to give a damm what you want, you perform as required when your told. Grow up and get used to not getting your way.
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    I’m a high school student right now, and I don’t want to start the day later. If we move school back, I guarantee you that us students will just stay up later. Also, if students stay at school later, football, basketball, etc games will have to start later to allow everyone to get there on time from school. Not just the sports players, but the marching band, dance team, cheerleaders, and parents will have to stay later at the game. Parents will end up staying at games later and having to get up at their regular time to go to work in the morning.
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    From what I have read and seen it was a better thing and it gets rid of the morning sluggishness
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    Agree once more with jimK. First, I believe this is not a once-size-fits-all question. Communities in different areas tend to work around schedules that are best for most people that live there. I have moved around the country a few times and I can assure you that where I live now, people tend to start and end their day earlier than people tended to where I lived last. It sucks, but I had to adapt. School times need to be set in accord with locality needs and preferences. Secondly, circadian rhythms were cited as a factor but there is one full hour difference in solar time for folks living at opposite ends of the same time zone. Again community locality within a time zone is the overriding factor for circadian rhythm concerns and not the actual ‘clock’ time. So, I do not believe the proposed studies would be of much value.
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    So what has changed in the last 50-75 years? Liberals and leftists have taken over our schools. Shorten the education time in classes and shorten the school year, teach them absolutely junk. Dumb them down and indoctrination begins and is ridiculously easier when this formulation is applied. The absolute destruction of our schools and our colleges. The destruction of America from within.
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    Get the Federal government out of education. #MAGA
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    It’s penal servitude and not meant to be enjoyable. Your there for one thing and one thing only, to learn. It’s not supposed to be a vacation in the Hampton’s. When I was in high school my friends and I seem to have gotten through it without any alteration to our daily schedules? Plus most like myself worked afternoons and/or nights the entire time we attended high school.
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