Saturday, January 21, 2012

Start Later to Ensure Educational Progress

My high school begins at 7:10 a.m.

Yes, that is incredibly early.

When I was in high school, we started at 8:00 and let out about 3:15. When I first started teaching, the school started at 7:50. My second teaching job was at a school which began at 7:35. I thought that was as early as it could - or should - get. Then I moved to Colorado and discovered the school day began at 7:20. I was shocked, but I got used to it. Then several years ago, the recession led to serious budget crunches, and in a move to cut funds, but keep cuts out of the classroom, the district manipulated bus schedules to save cash ... and shifted the start time to 7:10. And, that, in my opinion, is just crazy. And nothing good comes from it. We let out at 2:50 everyday.

Nothing in education research supports earlier start times - especially for high school students. And, yet we persist. I would prefer and have even promoted an 8 - 4 schedule. In fact, I'd like to see an 8 or 9 to 4:30 or 5:00. And while people protest about the impact on sports and activities, I'd argue that we could and should move many practices to before school. Let the football team practice from 7:00 - 9:00, and then start school. That way, after kids are done at 4:30 or 5:00, they are literally "done." It would promote a return to home life and I truly believe ease a lot of pressure on kids.

In response to my rants about this at school, one of my seniors in Intro to College Comp, wrote a research paper on school start times, and then responded to my suggestions by creating a Facebook page devoted to later start times. So far, in a school over 3500 students, roughly 40 have actually joined the discussion. This is despite the overwhelming support among most students for later start times. It's tough to change the system.

I am so tired of school schedules being "driven" by bus schedules, sports, and child care concerns. Later start times make sense on every level. And there is little support for the alarms of high school kids going off at 5:00 in the morning.


Terra Ziporyn Snider said...

It's wonderful to see a teacher speaking out about this subject! As a medical writer and parent of 3 who has been working for later start times for over a decade, I have finally come to understand that collective action on a national scale is required to move this issue forward. My petition asking for a minimum school start time ( seems to have sparked a national coalition of health professionals, sleep scientists, educators, parents, students, and other concerned citizens, and I hope you'll join us. For more info, see

mmazenko said...

Terra, thanks for the comment and the additional info. You may be right in the need for a larger, even national, movement.

OddlyAdding said...

I love this post! Thank you for speaking out on an issue that has been ignored for far too long - the health, safety and equity of students.

Please join us at for more information on our petition, the latest research, news and more. With the representation of 48 states and DC, early school start times is a nationwide problem.

To volunteer and join in our efforts to educate the public and seek legislation to safeguard students, join us here:

Maribel Ibrahim

mmazenko said...

Maribel, thanks for the feedback, and I appreciate the information about StartSchoolLater.

Darren said...

You might have read my recent post about my school's experience considering a later start time:

mmazenko said...

I hadn't seen that post - but I love the 10-5. That would certainly allow for sports/club meetings before school. It just makes so much sense. I know few people in the business world - other than service industry - who start before 8.