Weekly late start good for teachers, now do something for students
March 27, 2017
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Each of us has been plagued with waking up at ungodly early hours for school. Whether it be for a club, track practice or just to make the bus, many of us leave the house at 6:30 a.m.
According to the National Sleep Foundation, many teenagers are unable to fall asleep before 11 p.m. due to hormone shifts during puberty. The National Sleep Foundation also recommends that students get 8 to 10 hours of sleep each night. This means, if students go to bed at 11 p.m., they should be waking up between 7 and 9 a.m. With our current school schedule, this is impossible.
So when the Central Times Editorial Board heard that the school board voted on March 6 to have a late arrival day every week, we were pleased.
The reasoning, however, left us with mixed feelings.
According to the public meeting notes, called BoardDocs, that are located on the District 203 website, the proposal reads: “We recommend that our Board of Education approve weekly collaboration time for [Professional Learning Community] PLC implementation beginning in the 2017-2018 school year.”
Essentially, PLC is a fancy name for a group of teachers who all teach the same subject. Currently, they meet once a month on late arrival days, but next year they will meet every week. The hopeful outcomes of this collaboration are “high achievement” of students, “collective responsibility” of students by teachers, “accountable” practice in the classroom and “build teacher knowledge through shared practice and supportive co-worker community.”
The school board’s decision will effectively help students by creating a consistent classroom experience for all students enrolled in a certain course and allowing us the happy accident of one day of extra sleep a week.
But this is not enough. It’s a good step. But it’s not enough.
According to administrators, this decision was made without regard for the district-wide survey about late start times because this plan to increase the frequency of late starts has been in progress for eight years. However, we’d like to point out that in the presentation to the school board on March 6, results from the survey were used—but the ones that show the community desire for moving start times back every day were conveniently omitted.
Regardless, the CT staff is urging the school board not to forget the results of the late start survey. While teacher collaboration and a once-a-week late start is great, student health should be seen as equally important to teacher collaboration and should not be forgotten.
When we discussed this with administrators, they said that a later start every day is a hassle. It would be a scheduling nightmare and, as a result, they are ignoring the results of the late start survey.
Well, we think they should spend a little more time in Ranch View Elementary School. Walk into any classroom, kindergarten through fifth grade, and you’ll hear a few common things: “Got grit?” “The Power of Yet” and “Flexible Thinking.”
Each of these statements encapsulates things that District 203 administrators could learn a thing or two from.
Grit tells students to have “resilience in the face of failure and [demonstrate] a deep commitment to long term goals,” according to a letter from Ranch View principal Sue Salness.
“The Power of Yet” tells us to never give up and to say, “I can’t solve that problem yet.”
“Flexible thinking” urges us to think outside of the box, forming creative solutions to seemingly impossible problems.
By simply glancing over the science that proves students need more sleep, and by ignoring our voices in the district-wide survey because it is a “scheduling nightmare,” District 203 is showing that it does not value student health, which is hypocritical. To ask the community for feedback, then find out that the community is concerned about student health, but then not take timely action on that concern is disrespectful and wrong.
Students are expected to be complex thinkers and quality workers. District administrators, it’s time to take your own medicine. Don’t you give up, even if scheduling is difficult. What you’ve done is good. But you haven’t solved what, for so many of us, is the real problem… yet.