By Heather Farrell
It’s the bill every student wants to be proposed. A legislative campaign to start school later.
Senator Richard Codey (D-Essex) proposed a bill on Thursday, October 9th that was aimed at the state Department of Health to look into the health benefits of a later start to the school day and the negative academic effects of not getting enough sleep. He asked education officials to consider a program for some schools to try later start times and then record the results.
The New Jersey senator said that elementary and preschools start too late while high schools and middle schools start too early. Codey’s information is based on the schools in his legislative district, containing parts of Essex and Morris counties, because the New Jersey School Boards Association does not keep the specifics of the start times for schools across the state.
From his research, Codey discovered that 10 out of the 12 high schools from the 12 districts (in his legislative district), started their days before 8:00 A.M along with 5 of 12 middle schools. Three private high schools in the districts begin at 8:00 A.M. or later.
The legislation for Codey’s bill follows a statement by the American Academy of Pediatrics recommending adolescent school days begin at 8:30 A.M. According to the Academy, 40% of high schools begin before 8:00 A.M. while 15% start after 8:30 A.M.
The Academy referenced a poll made by the National Sleep Foundation. The poll found 59% of middle schoolers and 87% of high schoolers received less than the recommended 8.5 to 9.5 hours of sleep.
“This is more than a matter of teenagers dozing at their desks, this is about their health and ability to learn, retain information and succeed,” Codey explained. “The smart thing to do is to start the school day at a time that is best for learning and best for the health and safety of students.”
Of course, IHA students have opinions of this bill.
“There are studies that show students’ brains don’t function earlier in the day,” freshman Maeve Kelly said. “Students’ brains will probably function better if they get more sleep.”
“Codey seems like he is a very educated man and I agree with the fact that we [students] will perform better if we don’t start until later,” freshman tennis player Eilis McLaughlin also remarked.
Students may feel positive about the bill, but not everyone does. Some people think the change of start time will leave students unprepared for the real world when they have to get up early for work. This has not stopped Codey from proposing the bill.
Early to rise may not make a student wise!