I do want to note a couple of items before attending to the subject of the thread.
Director McLaren was not in attendance at last night's meeting. Also, the student speaker, Mallory Richey of Roosevelt, told the Board and Superintendent that they are working more on school pride and have "Rider Pride" cards that they send home with students to their parents, letting the parents know a good thing - either kindness, leadership, etc. - that their student did that contributed to the life of the school. Great idea.
After attending part of last night's Board meeting, I feel somewhat differently about later start times for secondary students becoming a reality at some point in the near future. Here's why.
Most of the speakers for public testimony were speaking in support of later start times and boy, did the supporters find some good speakers.
One was Michael Vitiello who is a UW professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences. From his UW page:
Dr. Vitiello is an internationally recognized expert in sleep and sleep disorders in aging. Dr. Vitiello serves as chair of the Sleep Disorder's Research Advisory Board (SDRAB) of the NIH's National Center for Sleep Disorders Research (NCSDR) Established by an act of Congress the SDRAB is chartered to provide advice to the NIH Director, the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI) Director, and the NCSDR Director on matters related to planning execution, conduct, support and evaluation of research in sleep disorders.
Dr. Vitiello is founding Co-Editor and Editor-in-Chief for the Americas of Sleep Medicine Reviews (SMR). SMR articles review the clinical information published in peer-reviewed journals devoted to the many disciplines involved in sleep medicine and provide International coverage of sleep disorders, their etiology, diagnosis, treatment and implications for related conditions at an individual and public health level.
Another was Frederica Merrell, a parent and teacher. She made the valid point that most parents are working parents who are already up and getting their kids out the door, no matter what time school starts. She said she stands in the dark at the bus stop - along with other parents with young children, middle schoolers and teens - every day.
Another was Vishesh Kapur, a parent, a UW Board-certified professor of medicine, who told the Board "the science is clear." He even brought in Secretary Duncan's own words of support to back up his position. Apparently Duncan said that education leaders need to run schools not for buses but for children.
Dr. Kapur, UW Professor of Medicine, is
the founder of the UW Medicine Sleep Center. He directs the UW Medicine
Sleep Laboratory and the UW Sleep Medicine Fellowship. He is a fellow of
the American Academy of Sleep Medicine and has board certifications in
sleep medicine and pulmonary medicine.
One parent, David Folweiler, another supporter, said that one of his teen daughters said she was glad she had PE first period "because I don't have to think."
Another parent, Dianne Casper, cited a Brookings Institute study.
Since children’s time of day preference shifts towards eveningness as
they get older, their cognitive functioning is likely to be at its peak
more towards the afternoon than in the morning. Thus, if important basic
classes such as reading and mathematics are taught in the morning,
older school children will be learning this critical material at their
less-preferred or non optimal time of day, resulting in poorer school
performance than might be found were the courses in greater synchrony
with circadian arousal rhythms.”
Restricted sleep for students from lower socioeconomic backgrounds is
more likely to be associated with diminished cognitive outcomes.
In fact research calculates that:
“[e]arly school start times reduce performance among
disadvantaged students by an amount equivalent to having a highly
I spoke on student data privacy which actually was quite the topic early in the meeting when lead SPS counsel, Ron English, talked to the Board about his efforts around the now-defunct agreement between OSPI and the Seattle Times. (I have some very interesting answers from OSPI about the last agreement and I mean interesting in a troubling way.) Mr. English had some good and bad to say about the issue. Clover Codd followed up with what I would term "the ugly" because it was a lot of patting on the head and saying don't worry. (Sorry, but the district is NOT being transparent or forthcoming about what they are doing, there is NO real and visible data policy.)
This district really has a major disconnect between what they say and what the reality is at headquarters and at the website. Somehow in their heads many things exist but try to find them in a real-time plane of existence and you won't. That needs to change.
More - much more - on student data privacy to come.
There was also one very moving testimony from parent Cathy Moore who described, in vivid and frightening detail, what happened to her Garfield freshman son during the day of froshing. You could see the Directors getting visibly upset. And she ended saying that someday a child will die from this nonsense and she's right. But tradition, you know.
The Directors' Comments did touch on the issue of later start times. Director Carr was the most direct in recognizing that whether or not later start times for secondary schools come to SPS - the work on that discussion MUST start. No more, "next year." She, and several other Directors, want to see a timetable for this work. If Tracy Libros can get this work done, creating a timetable for the work, I think someone else can as well.