Petition for later start times for Durham Public Schools’ Middle Schools
The signers of this petition are concerned about the excessively early start time of DPS middle schools (7:30 to 2:30). While this early start time is likely not an insignificant factor when it comes to families choosing middle school charters over DPS traditional middle schools, it is also noteworthy that DSA (Durham School of the Arts) starts significantly later (school hours are 8:45 to 3:45), making Durham residents prefer DSA even more than they would otherwise. Why does DSA get this special treatment? One simple way to make DPS middle schools more appealing is to start them at the same time as DSA and Charter middle schools. It is a scientific/statistical fact that kids perform more poorly in the early morning hours: "A brief delay in school start time of only 30 minutes was associated with significant improvements in adolescent alertness, mood, and health. These findings were published in the July issue of the Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine...Inadequate nightly sleep in adolescents, defined as fewer than nine hours, is a known problem and a major public health concern. For years, pediatric sleep experts have encouraged delayed school start times to address this concern. In fact, the start time in this study was delayed only from 8am to 8:30am." This quote was taken from the following website: http://www.hermangroup.com/alert/archive_7-14-2010.html , which contains more detailed information regarding the detrimental effects of early starts to school days. It is ridiculous to ask our kids to be at school and ready to learn at 7:30/8 AM. I have heard the argument that parents need their middle school students to be home in order to baby-sit their elementary school kids or in order to ensure their elementary kids aren’t home well before they get off work. First of all, it is not DPS's responsibility to ensure after-school care for their students' families. More importantly, encouraging the use of middle school students as free family babysitters only makes their day longer and leaves less time for after school activities (including much needed downtime) and homework, pushing their day even later and making it even MORE important that they get the sleep they need. So DPS’s early school start is creating a vicious cycle. DPS is encouraging these middle school students to burn the candle at both ends -- get home in time to take care of their younger siblings, thereby prolonging their own 'work-day', but wake up and start school earlier, costing them more sleep. While this may help take care of younger kids, it is at the expense of the well being of these middle-school kids. We implore the Durham School Board and DPS administration to change the middle school start time to 9 AM as soon as possible, for the betterment of education for our middle-school students. Thank you for your sincere and thorough consideration of this important matter.