In Defense of Later High School Start Times

(By Julie Zhu)
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Thursday, October 2, 2008

Here are more responses to the Sept. 4 column ["Early Bedtimes Work, Too, for Sleep-Deprived Teens"], which suggested that teens don't need later high school start times.

Dear Extra Credit:

Fairfax County public schools dedicate a lot of money and effort to addressing the minority achievement gap. The current bell schedule, however, affects low-income high school students more adversely, because they don't always have the options available to students from wealthier families.

Well-off families are more likely to have the option of driving their children to school and are more likely to be able to afford to provide them cars. Less than half of high school students get to school by bus. At least 10 percent fewer students take the bus to school in the morning than take it home in the afternoon; most of the 10 percent are students who are driven to school.

Many lower-income families and single-parent families don't have these options. Consequently, a higher proportion of low-income students are required to take the early buses to school. The current bell schedule does not support the county's efforts at addressing the minority achievement gap.

Walt Carlson

Fairfax County

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