Written by Mike Martin
Facebook, Twitter, online petitions, news sites light up with angry comments
COLUMBIA, 1/14/13 (Beat Byte) -- From an online petition to Facebook comments, Columbia Public School (CPS) constituents of all ages are expressing outrage over a proposed 7:20 am start time for district high school students. School Board members have provided several reasons for the change, abandoning studies that show teens learn better with more sleep. The reason that appears repeatedly is a $1.3 million cost savings related to bus transportation.
"I am sooo glad my kids don't attend CPS," writes Pam Hollingsworth of Mokane, Missouri on the KOMU news site. "All of the studies that have recently come out state that the test scores for children that start later are higher than ones who start earlier. Seems like a step in the wrong direction to me."
"My kids are still asleep at 7:20 am!" wrote Jerry Hyde, who works at BJC HealthCare "I have a 17 year old that works from 5 to 10 pm. She then has to take a shower and try to get enough sleep so she can be at school by 7:45 am. This is going to make things better for everyone? Crazy stuff."
A Change.org petition with 129 signatures so far mirrors the same angst.
"Dr. Chris Belcher pointed out there is solid research that indicates high school students need more sleep than other student populations," writes James Tarr. "A decision to begin the high school start-time even earlier would run counter to compelling evidence that suggests this is simply a very bad idea."
Columbia parent Mary Mueller added her thoughts about the bait-and-switch survey. "If the committee had indicated 7:20 a.m. would be the start time for any students, I would have protested. 7:45 was given in the survey as the earliest start time throughout this process."
Typical of the debate: "Columbia should really do what's best for the kids! I saw a definite change in our teenagers after the start time was pushed back," writes K. Lefebvre. "Mornings actually became civil and they went off to school rested and ready to learn."
"To do what's in the best interest of children is too much to ask," notes Angela Rippstein, a Columbia Public School learning specialist.
Though 7:20 am opponents far outnumber supporters, some people support the change.
"These students are damn near adults, and they need to start learning how to act like it," writes Vickie Anne Sexton, who has two children in CPS. "Dozens of school districts have made the switch to a three tier system without a negative impact on extracurriculars. It may sound counter intuitive, but the three tier system will actually reduce the number of routes, saving the district money on fuel."