A group of about 20 Barrington families have launched a petition against changing school start times. Click here to see the petition.
Eizabeth Henderson, the mother of a second-grader at Primrose Hill School and a kindergarten pupil next fall, wrote and posted the petition on GoPetition.com two days ago on behalf of the 20 families. She is asking other families who oppose the change in school start times to sign it.
Barrington is considering changing start times to help boost the achievement of high school and middle school teens. Later starting times are believed to benefit teens dealing with sleep deprivation, which research indicates has a negative impact on academic and athletic performance.
Henderson believes "there are other ways" to get teens more sleep -- ways that may be even more effective without having an impact on every student in the Barrington schools. Parents are the key, she said.
"Parents need to take more responsibility," she said. "It's not the schools' job to get kids more sleep."
Henderson also questions whether changing the start time for teens might just be shifting sleep-deprivation to younger children.
"Is there any research on kids ages 6 to 11? "she said. "I think we need to see more research on younger kids."
Henderson said she got the idea for the petition after attending the recent community forum on school start times in the high school.
"I got concerned that it was just a dog-and-pony show," she said, "that the decision is already made."
The petition lists five specific reasons why the parents believe changing the school start times will actually have a negative impact on students.
It also lists other ways to handle sleep deprivation, such as managing children's activities, setting up consistent bed and wake times, keeping them away from caffeine and energy drinks, engaging them in stimulating activities during the early afternoon slump time, and creating downtimes before bedtime so teens can fall asleep easier.
Teens also need to be taught to cope with a world that is 24/7, according to the petition. Having consistent routines and managing extracurricular activities is a better way to help teens cope, grow and succeed, the petition states.
You can sign the petition until the end of April, Henderson said. It does require you to give your name and email address. You can make comments as well.
Henderson plans to download the results of the petition and present it to the School Committee in May.