The debate over high school start times

For many years now, early start times have been the norm at U.S. high schools. There has been a push against this trend lately. There has been movement in schools in many different parts of the country towards later start times. In recent years, at least 45 states have seen some schools in them make such a move. However, early start times remain prevalent, with more than 85 percent of the public high schools here in the U.S. having a start time before 8:30 a.m. as of the 2015-2016 school year.

Here in California, the issue of school start times recently came up within the state’s legislature. A bill was proposed which would have prohibited schools in the state from starting any earlier than 8:30 a.m. The bill ultimately got shelved.

So, in California, and in other parts of the county, school start times have become a significant source of debate.

Why are we discussing this debate on a personal injury blog? Well, the arguments that have been leveled in the push for later school start times include arguments that touch on traffic safety.

Proponents of later start times argue that early starts can be bad for students’ sleep needs. They argue that, because of this, moving such times back could have many benefits for students, including health and safety benefits.

A teenager’s sleep health can impact many things, including how safe they are out on the roads. When teenagers aren’t getting sufficient sleep, they could be at risk of getting drowsy behind the wheel. Drowsy driving is very dangerous, with the potential for causing tragic accidents.

Critics of moving back start times argue that there are many practical barriers to moving away from early start times. They argue that there are other, less disruptive, ways of addressing the sleep, health and safety concerns connected to early start times.

This debate has gotten very complex and has many aspects. Some have suggested that things such as the way people feel about maintaining status quo are playing a role in it.

What are your thoughts on this debate? Which side do you think will win out here in California and in other parts of the country? What impacts do you think what happens with this debate will have on traffic safety around high schools?

Source: Los Angeles Times, “Why Are Parents Afraid of Later School Start Times?,” Nov. 12, 2017


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