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Later school start is worth consideration

When State Senator Sandra Williams, D-Cleveland, proposed legislation that would mean a later start to the school day for Buckeye State students, the reaction was mixed. But even if the idea may have been inspired by similar legislation in California, it should not be dismissed entirely. It warrants discussion.

The American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Medical Association and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention all agree school should not start until at least 8:30 a.m. Especially kids in middle and high school are generally wired to stay up later … and wake up later. (They’re also supposed to be getting as much as 9 1/2 hours of sleep per night.) According to professionals — not just the kids speaking, here — an early start to the school day can be bad for their health and their grades.

But change is hard. There is a lot to consider in reworking the traditional school day. Bus routes, drop-off and pick-up times, child care arrangements for the younger ones … it’s a lot for parents to consider. And for kids who have after-school jobs or participate in extra-curricular activities, the change could be an even bigger problem.

There is one more obstacle, of course. Anyone prone to telling stories of having walked to school 10 miles in the snow, up hill, both ways and in the dark — or grumping about not having had air conditioning when THEY were in school — is going to be tempted to ignore the idea as unnecessary, without hearing the facts.

Williams’ idea should be researched. Lawmakers should have a thorough understanding of the pros and cons, and make a decision about what is best for Ohio children as a whole.

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