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Should Dearborn High Schools Have Flexible Start Times?

The Dearborn Board of Education approved a plan this week that will allow students to start school one hour late if they choose.

A plan to allow students at all three Dearborn high schools the option to start one hour later beginning in September was approved Monday night by the Dearborn Public Schools Board of Education, but not without debate.

The program will allow 10th through 12th grade students at , and to start classes at 8:25 a.m. and leave school at 3:20 p.m., as opposed to beginning classes at 7:20 a.m. and leaving school at 2:15 p.m.

Students must commit to the schedule for an entire school year, and must have no outstanding credits or classes to make up, said Gail Shenkman, the assistant superintendent of secondary education at Dearborn Schools.

“The program is voluntary,” she added.

Students must also be able to provide their own transportation to and from school, because bus schedules will not change to accomodate the shift. Also, it will prevent them from taking part in extra-curricular activities that begin before 3:20 p.m.

The late-start debate began several years ago, but was . The need, board members say, is based on research that shows high school students are going to school sleep-deprived–which is not a condition conducive to learning, Shenkman said.

Lisa Goddard, a parent who has two children who have graduated from Dearborn High and three others slated to attend high school, urged the board to accept the program.

“I think the early start time present a lot of challenges to students,” she said. “I have three more (children) that will attend the high school, and I would like to see it changed. My others told me they didn’t feel like they woke up until second hour.”

Another parent, Ernest Oz, said the program doesn’t go far enough to meet the needs of students.

“The plan is not adequate,” he said. “It’s designed to accommodate adults.”

Oz also said he favored a plan . Trustee Aimee Blackburn said she supports the late start option, but that it’s not a viable plan to shift the earlier start times to middle school students, or upend long-standing start times for parents.

“A lot of parents believe starting at seven (o’clock) is best for students to learn ... it’s not a zero-sum game,” she said.

Not all teachers will participate in the program. District officials worked out a plan with the Dearborn Federation of Teachers that made teacher participation voluntary.

Students will be matched with participating teachers based on their course selection and needs, and if the number of students electing the late option is greater than the number of students participating teachers can handle, students will be chosen by a lottery.

The program will be piloted in the 2012-13 school year and reexamined to determine if it will continue.

City of Dearborn (Editor) March 01, 2012 at 10:08 PM
Readers - do you think the schools are babying kids too much? Or is it really better for learning to start later?
Lee Jacobsen March 02, 2012 at 06:29 AM
Many folk have a 9 to 5 job, and teaching kids using those hours will allow the teachers to have a normal work day. Students will arrive home at a later hour, and will no longer have to be 'latch kids', waiting at home alone for their parents to come home from work. The next step would be to have students and teachers attend school 'year round', with scheduled breaks , just like the 15 other countries that are ahead of us with respect to test scores and student achievement. It would also utilize our resources much better, no more idle buildings in the summer. Of course, the farmers will have to look elsewhere for workers to help with the summer crops , but wait ! We all know that they have long ago switched to the modern way of growing crops with such conveyances as tractors, and pickup trucks to reduce the need for summer labor. Time for the hours and attendance to catch up with modern times. Of course, some will object, but that is to be expected. They must have missed the common sense and logic portion of classwork when they attended high school.
Dolores Skowronek March 02, 2012 at 09:16 PM
The research evidence is overwhelming. Early high school start times and sleep loss are very bad for a teen’s health and ability to learn. Polices that recognize this fact make sense. Taking care of our children’s well-being should be a priority for every parent, teacher, and district administrator. This is a wise policy decision. I wish more districts would follow. Please sign our national petition for safe and healthy school start times for all children: http://signon.org/sign/promote-legislation-to.fb1?source=s.fb&r_by=1521139
LHB September 05, 2012 at 05:08 PM
I sincerely believe that a later start time is better. I have never liked that students without extracurricular activities, or after-school jobs are arriving home 3 hrs before their parents. I also think that having to be awake and in 'brain-engaged' mode by 7:15 AM (with breakfast? Probably not) is not good policy. Hope this changes
cmg September 14, 2012 at 04:33 PM
I started high school at 7:00am. It was called zero hour back then. I survived. You know what it taught me? It taught me that I had to get out of bed and get to school on time. Someone commented on how most people work 9-5, no they don't. I start work at 8. Therefore my kids would have to walk to school or I would have to find someone to take them, and since I live 3 miles from school, I'd have to opt for the second. I've taught my kids to be independent and be able to take care of themselves. They get home from school, let the dog out, do their home work and make a snack. They LOVE IT! They are not "latch key" kids because I didn't go back to work until I felt they were old enough to be independent. They have proved me right and made me very proud. My oldest is in 8th grade, when I asked him about started high school at 7:20 and would he want to do that he said most definitely, he said he sees no reason to waste time, he can be out earlier, start his homework and/or sports and have more time in his day. Smart kid, because when he's an adult that's what he'll have to do.
Lee Jacobsen September 14, 2012 at 05:00 PM
Some folk are 'early risers' . Others are not. What did Ben Franklin say, "early to bed makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise"? Kids today need around 6 to 8 hours sleep, perhaps more. That means in bed by 10 PM. The only reason kids are tired is a lack of sleep by staying up too late. With today's technology of taping shows etc, there is no reason to stay up past a reaonable bedtime if one knows that the day begins at 6AM. Can't go to bed early? Why not?
cmg September 14, 2012 at 05:07 PM
That's a good question. I totally agree. I've told my kids that the only way to catch up on sleep is by going to bed earlier, sleeping in doesn't help. Both of them have always been early risers, so why change? It's my own opinion of course, and no one has to agree with me, but I see nothing wrong with teaching a child they don't need to sleep until 12:00pm. That's ridiculous. My youngest is 11, he gets exactly 8 hrs a sleep no matter what. He doesn't function well, and he's even said it. So if he gets it then he knows what he needs to do.

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