The notion of later school start times — particularly for high school students — is gaining a lot of attention since U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said last week that letting teens sleep more could help with achievement.
Mike Flanagan, superintendent of the Michigan Department of Education, followed suit and said he's encouraged local school districts to adjust their teaching and learning schedules to accommodate the individual learning needs of the students for a years.
“I am encouraged that Secretary Duncan is advocating the change from what has been considered a traditional learning day for students,” Flanagan said in a news release. “The Secretary understands this and I am hopeful that schools in Michigan will begin to understand the value, and adopt more flexible instructional schedules for their students. It makes sense.”
Local SupportDr. Daniel Nerad, superintendent of the Birmingham Public Schools, has not weighed-in publicly yet on the topic. However, there seems to be support from parents, including one group that dedicated a Facebook Page to the cause.
"I favor it, all the research supports it and it helps narrow the achievement gap," wrote reader Julie Wagner on the Birmingham Patch Facebook page. "What we can do to make this a reality for our area teens?"
Bloomfield Hills Schools Superintendent Rob Glass said he supports the idea of later start times, but has seen similar initiatives fail in the past. The problem, he said, is getting universal cooperation from different districts.
"I'm all for it," he said recently when asked about Duncan's and Flanagan's comments. "But you have to have everyone on board because of all the implications."
Balancing sports schedules, practice times, and logistics for other extra curricular activities would be a significant challenge for schools involved in conferences and leagues, he said. Those factors were primary reasons Bloomfield Hills did not implement staggered start times for it's dual-campus Bloomfield Hills High School this year, despite benefits to traffic flow for both buildings on Lahser Road.
Do you think high schools in Birmingham and Michigan should start later? Tell us in the comments.