This Tuesday, 10:30 a.m., a group of parents will appear before the Montgomery County Board of Education, in Rockville. Mandi Mader, MSW, LCSW-C, Psychotherapist, represents almost 10,000 concerned citizen petition signers and has witnessed firsthand the harm caused by chronic sleep deprivation to her patients. Mrs. Mader is part of Start School Later, the national coalition headquartered in Annapolis.
The Anne Arundel County chapter of Start School Later plans to present our petition to the school board early in the new year.
Students are living this schedule every single day, and their voices are reflected in the comments they type into the petition from Rockville and Garrett Park to Annapolis and Severna Park. Here are a few, and some suggestions on how to make your voice heard:
Almost every morning I end up skipping breakfast and nearly missing my bus because I literally get woken up by my alarm and immediately pass back out. I have several hours of homework each night, but I can never think clearly enough to do it. I always have to choose between rushing through the work and getting an okay grade, understanding part of the material, or sleeping enough for class the following day. In school, it is a common sight for a large chunk of a class to get in trouble for having cups of coffee on their desks, and being told that they don't need to be drinking coffee at their ages. If you ask a lot of these students why they have coffee, they will answer that they actually do need the caffeine in the morning. I already take medication to focus, but it doesn't matter when I'm tired and hungry. Even when I do manage to get my work done early, I just can't close my eyes until 11:30.
My doctor told me to take melatonin if I was having that much trouble falling asleep earlier. I'm not alone in this, as my friends have been told and have tried to do the same. It doesn't really help. School has stopped being fun and has instead become one the biggest stressors in my life. The less I understand in class, the harder it is to do my homework. The harder it is to do my homework, the less of it I'm willing and able to get done. The less homework I get done, the lower my grades get. The lower my grades get, the worse my mood gets. The worse my mood gets, the harder it is to do my work or sleep. The harder it is to sleep, the harder it is to understand material in class. My 10-year-old brother normally wakes up on his own a half hour after my bus leaves, as my parents have told me. End the vicious cycle of stress. Push the starting hours back and consider letting the younger kids that are actually awake in the morning have class first!
- Margaret, Annapolis
Please make school start later. I don't remember the last time I got 8 hours of sleep on a school night - Kayla, Silver Spring
Honestly, I'm sometimes so tired when I get home from school I fall asleep on the couch. I have no time for homework and I'm doing really poor in school. I know I could do better, if I would have time for homework. I have an afterschool job too. - Isa, Severna Park
I know many people who suffer from anxiety and depression, stress plays a big part in all that. Not enough sleep causes stress. - Nora, Silver Spring
Being an IB student that is involved with multiple extra-curricular activities, it takes a toll knowing that once you arrive late at home (7:30pm being the earliest this marking period) you need to do hours of homework and still get up in time to get to school - Skye, Annapolis
I believe this would greatly help, it is very hard to concentrate on hw with so little sleep! also, with coming to school early, it is hard learning in school especially with math when i have it in the morning! i think this will greatly benefit the students here in Montgomery Co., and help the students, academically. - Victoria, Silver Spring
As a previous high school student, I know that waking up so early for classes is really bad. I'd only get 6 hours of sleep a night and it was pretty detrimental to my health. - Joe, Annapolis
This is ridiculous. I wake up knowing I can't sleep for hours and hours. I just need at LEAST 1 more hour of sleep. I wake up at 6 - Marc, Chevy Chase
I am one of the high school students negatively impacted by the early school times. - Kamran, Bethesda
I'm very tired at school. - Jeri, Bethesda
At the time that school starts now, I often find myself skipping homework for sleep, and even with that, I can't concentrate or remember most of my classes. I've also been late due to oversleeping. - Alexandra, Silver Spring
If you are a student and you'd like to get involved with this movement, sign the petition for your school district, contact us at Start School Later, and think about checking out Stuvoice.org, a grassroots organization that seeks to unite and elevate the student voice.