As I think of the many points of view, I support the following:
- Start school later for high school and middle school students--the research shows that this has a positive effect on students.
- Work with other school systems to align sports and other activities to the later start times.
- Make sure that elementary school students or the "morning larks" as some researchers have described them start school at an earlier time, but probably not too early.
- Think about how the school system will support working families with these changes--will there be more after school scholarships and program spots for children who will be getting out of school earlier?
The positives for an earlier start for elementary school students is that young children typically awake early and are ready to go--we do our best teaching in the morning and this will lengthen the morning. Further if we increase after school programming and scholarships, there will be the opportunity to develop the already wonderful and enriching after school program offerings at school and elsewhere--this will be particularly important for students who do not have at-home support after school. Plus it's likely that young children will have more afternoon time for play and exploration and elementary school teachers will be able to coach at the Middle School and High School levels since they will be getting out of school in time to coach or run clubs which will spell more financial opportunity for those teachers.
As the town debates this issues, I think it's important to focus on the priorities of what is most important including the following:
- What contributes most to students' overall health and wellness?
- What translates into the best success and progress with a holistic learning/teaching program in mind?
Change of any kind is difficult, but to get better we must embrace change and we must embrace it by seriously considering all points of view and what's best for our primary clients--the students we teach and care for.