[Editor's Note: The story has been updated to reflect the number of signatures needed to take the petition to the White House.]
The crusade for to provide adolescent students with more time for sleep is making its way across the nation.
A petition to promote legislation that would prohibit public schools from starting the school day before 8 a.m. has garnered 1,437 of the 5,000 signatures it needs before it can be brought before Congress, the Senate, and President Barack Obama.
Start School Later, a group of parents, medical professionals, and caregivers, is circulating the petition and recently contacted the Fairfield school district about the push for later starts for middle and high schools, which commence before the recommended 8:30 a.m. start time.
The case of more sleep for teenaged students
According to the Sleep Foundation, only 14 percent of teenagers get the recommended nine hours of sleep on a school night.
A study conducted by the University of Minnesota found that adolescents have trouble falling asleep before 11 at night and so having to wake up and get to school only a little more than seven hours later prohibits teens from getting enough sleep.
Dennis Nolan, an advocate for the Start School Later petition, provided several studies and information supporting a later start for middle and high schools.
- “To safeguard the welfare and intellectual potential of these students, sleep experts urge a delay in morning classes until 8:30 a.m., or later,” Nolan said of the start time suggested by the sleep experts (refer to the PDF included in the photo gallery).
- New York Magazine reported the findings of sleep expert Dr. Avi Sadeh of Tel Aviv University, who said, “A loss of one hour of sleep is equivalent to [the loss of] two years of cognitive maturation and development.”
- Teens who get more sleep are more alert in the morning and therefore less likely to be involved in car accidents, the leading cause of death among adolescents, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
, former Board of Education member Bruce Monte said that starting high schools later because “more sleep had a positive effect on academic performance, athletic performance, obesity and depression, among other things.”
Fairfield high schools begin each school day at 7:30 a.m.
The start time was implemented for the 2011-2012 school year with the Board of Education’s passing of Superintendent of Schools David Title’s recommended budget in January.
and High Schools previously started classes at staggered times for several years before the Board agreed on the 7:30 a.m. start time. Warde High School commenced at 7:50 a.m.; Ludlowe students started at 7:40 a.m.
Ludlowe’s start time meant that parents and buses dropping students off for the high school and the adjacent would severely congest the parking lot its shared entrance.
that making the start times earlier for the high schools also resulted in a projected savings of $500,000 annually.
Fairfield middle schools begin each day at 8:10 a.m. -- 20 minutes too early, according to Nolan.
The Start School Later petition can be viewed and electronically signed here.