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Do something about that early school start time, please

Do something about that early school start time, please
Students head to Thomas Starr King Middle School in East Hollywood on a December morning last year. (Los Angeles Times)

Ah, complaints about the clock. Heard that before? The Times published an opinion piece this week entitled "Why school should start later in the day," which noted that even though medical guides "recommend shifting middle- and high-school start times to 8:30 a.m. or later … in California, the average start time was 8:07 a.m."

Readers promptly schooled writer Lisa Lewis with their own parental guidance. Here are some of the responses.

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—Sara Lessley, Letters to the Editor department

Gary Rybold in Mission Viejo advises:

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Administrators and parents should both fight for later schools start times. But students can begin to protect themselves with one simple action step: deactivate all screens and go to bed at 10pm.

Technology presents a double whammy for teens. So-called "blue light" from their devices may affect levels of the sleep-inducing hormone melatonin and social media stimulates the brain. Reading a book (not an eBook) under low light allows teens to drift off.

It may take a while for schools to change, but teens can start tonight to make a drastic move in their own wellness.

Paula Del in Los Angeles adds:

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I have been saying for years that kids, especially high school students, should not be expected to be in their seats trying to learn anything in the early morning hours.

Unfortunately, sports at many schools dictate the schedule. That's why I believe that there should be a two-track school schedule. Eight o'clock until three and ten o'clock until five. Or have the sports teams practice in the morning and have the school day start after that.

Of course, the teachers union would have to be placated , but I'm sure there are some teachers who would like options.

Now, if we could just get rid of mandatory algebra and bring back plain old math. But, that's a fight for another (hopefully later) day!

Elliot Fein in Trabuco Canyon observes:

The inordinate amount of time teens devote after school, on weekends, and during the summer to extra-curricular activities ... results in a lot of outside-the-classroom endeavors. In addition to starting classes later in the day, perhaps Lisa Lewis should consider this factor when suggesting ways to help teens to focus better on the classroom.

With the vantage point of (long) time, Herbert C. Haber in Northridge concludes:

I attended high school in the 1930s when the depressed economy required that I walk 3 miles to school. I regularly arose before 6 AM in order to have the time needed to shower, shave, prepare and eat my breakfast.

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Worry about low test grades for early risers? Bah, humbug. If the need for good school grades is important, the student should be ready and willing to arise at such time as may be required.

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