Follow the science Baltimore! Start school later!
Baltimore City School Board
We implore the Baltimore City School Board to protect the physiological and psychological safety of its students by revising the 2022/2023 bell schedule so that no middle or high school student starts school before 8:30 am and no elementary school student before 8:00 am. The science is unequivocal: starting school too early results in increased adolescent depression, anxiety, suicidal ideation, obesity, alcohol/drug use, traffic accidents, athletic injury, dropout rate, juvenile crime, absenteeism, loss of learning, and diminished test scores. The Maryland State Department of Education Orange Ribbon program advises that teens start school no earlier than 8:30 am and elementary students no earlier than 8:00 am.
The new 2022/2023 bell schedule reflects a 300% increase in the number of middle and high schools that begin at 7:30 am, 60 minutes too early, and a 200% increase in the number of elementary schools that begin 30 minutes too early. The school board announced this new bell schedule without warning and without adequate and transparent input from parents/guardians, health organizations, or the Maryland Transportation Agency. They completely disregarded recommendations by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, the American Medical Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Psychological Association, the U.S Surgeon General, National Parent Teacher Association, National Education Association, the Maryland Department of Education, Maryland Department of Health, Maryland Department of Juvenile Services, Maryland General Assembly, and many other health and education organizations.
For students who rely on public transportation, this new bell schedule means that their commute can begin before 6:00 am, during civil dawn while visibility is low, making them more vulnerable to pedestrian accidents. It is an outrage that students with the least support will be impacted by this new schedule the most. In 2011, a study by the Hamilton Project, an initiative within the Brookings Institution, showed that that the test score increases associated with later school start times benefitted disadvantaged students about twice as much as other students. Baltimore needs to ensure educational equity to all its students by revising the school bell times as soon as possible.
Excessively early school start times even harm youth financially and the economy as a whole: a 2017 study by the Rand Corporation showed that later start times increased high school graduation rates; resulting in increased lifetime earnings. They projected that later public school start times could add billions to the economy within a few years.
And not only are Baltimore City students at a disadvantage compared to students at private schools, which almost always start at healthy times, even within Baltimore City public schools, some students are benefitting from an extra hour of sleep, while other students are being asked to function at their best on insufficient sleep. These students are all applying to the same colleges, job opportunities, etc., but are not being given the same access to education at age-appropriate school start times.
We urge the city school board to protect the health and safety of Baltimore City kids by revising the 2022/2023 bell schedule so that no middle or high school student starts school before 8:30 am and no elementary school student before 8:00 am.
For further reading about the research supporting later school start times, click here: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2352721821002230
Baltimore City School Board
From: [Your Name]
Please protect the physiological and psychological safety of Baltimore students by revising the 2022/2023 bell schedule so that no middle or high school student starts school before 8:30 am and no elementary school student before 8:00 am.