In 2018, California lawmakers voted to prohibit public middle and high schools from starting any earlier than 8:30 am. Drs. Seon Kyoung Rhie and Kyu Young Chae in a study analyzing over 13,000 students and 10 schools report that the bill could be used across the rest of the United States, as with an even a modest increase in start times, like from 8:00 am to 8:30, students average sleep duration was increased anywhere from 30 to 77 minutes, students were more alert, in a better mood, and safer on the road on the way to school.

When planning my evening as a student in the Independence School District, the most nagging concern in the back of my mind at all times is how much I can fit in before my looming bedtime. However not all of my peers are the same. Many teens succumb to the vehemently early start times that most high schools provide, and rather than stressing over how to perfectly parse their time, they relax, and stay up into the late hours of night doing homework at their leisure rather than hitting the sack at a reasonable time. Being a debater and an athlete, the opportunity to socialize is totally eliminated with school starting at 7:20, but it doesn't have to be this way.

Sleep is not a privilege; it’s a necessity.

Johns Hopkins Medical Center, the Nationwide Children's Hospital, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Mayo Clinic all agree that generation Z needs more sleep than any other, 9 to 9 hours a night, but they’re not getting it. Adolescents sleep best from 10 p.m. to 8 a.m., and to be fully awake and prepared to tackle a school day, current tardy bells just aren’t cutting it. On average teens fall two hours short of their optimal rest, only getting 7 hours, and although a two-hour disparity sounds like a mere drop in the bucket to most, it’s much more than that. Sleep deprivation is one of the most overlooked health issues in the United States, and it acts in a deadly synergy with maturation in teens, often causing spurts of evolving depression, an increased risk of obesity and early signs of developed ADD.

Sleep is not a privilege; it’s a necessity.

The Independence School District starts an hour and ten minutes earlier than recommended and is in the earliest 6th percentile for start times nationally. The ISD in the earliest bracket for school start times and virtually no public schools start earlier than they do. The ISD’s opening policy is obsolete, backward and overdue for change. Sleep is not a privilege; it’s a necessity.

The one argument any school district has against extending start times is its cost effectiveness. That later start times cause a shift in business strategies that bankrupt public schools, but it’s all wrong. There’s been one major study investigating the relationship between cost and benefit of later start times, and the result was so decisively beneficial that it seemed there was no reason to continue the research, latening start times is a cost-effective, student benefitting, and exceedingly important move for progress in any public school district.

Sleep is not a privilege; it’s a necessity.

Students across the nation are damaged, disadvantaged and endangered because of the blatant disregard for students rest and relief in the United States, and the ISD is absolutely no exception. The district is a well oiled education machine, but the glaring oversight in regard to when the first bell rings is road bump that can't be ignored.

John Crump is a 10th grade student at Truman High School who participates in cross country, track, and speech and debate.