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SCS Parents Push For Later Start Times For High School Students

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(Memphis) Hundreds of parents are demanding Shelby County Schools push back class start times.

Classes currently start at 7 a.m. for high school students, which means teens often need to be at the bus stop before dawn.

Close to 500 students and parents signed an online petition asking the district to push back the first bell at high schools.

Shelby County Schools administrators said they saw the petition, but have yet to comment.

They did say later times for middle and high schools were brought up in recent work sessions.

"Sleep is the thing they are not getting, and that hurts them in a lot of ways," said parent Amy Howell.

Her son goes to Houston High. She is one of hundreds of parents wanting SCS to make a change.

"The elementary kids start at 9 a.m., and that may be fine, but maybe we could switch that around. The high school kids are the ones that need the sleep," she said.

Close to 500 parents signed an online petition on MoveOn.org asking the district to push back the first bell for high schools.

New research by the University of Minnesota shows high schools with later start times have high standardized test scores and grades, and students were happier and more motived.

Students were also less likely to get in fights and make impulsive or risky decisions.

"We have new information. We have technology. We have got to find better processes and systems for our kids," said Howell.

Not all parents are convinced saying it will affect after-school activities, and students wouldn't be able to have part-time jobs.

If you would like to sign the petition, click here.


  • To shady

    Really sad they are afraid their kids won’t have part time jobs. What is sad is this– you have kids in sports that with the start times they have now and they get finished and home it is 11 before they hit the first book to study.. let them clean up, hit the hay get up a bit early do that homework and head out to school. They need the rest. I fully agree that this 7:00 start time is for the birds. The little ones need to be at school at 7 for they are in bed by 8-8:30 in the evening, and than that way you do NOT have wee ones getting off a bus in the fall and winter time in the dark either.. wake up SCS system.

  • Thomas H. Evans

    What next for our poor little babies? Maybe if these parents would have their kids turn off the TV and Games, go to bed at a reasonable time like even 10:00pm, then maybe their little babies wouldn’t be so tired. Maybe 8:00am would be a better time, but the next year they would need it to be 9:00am. We all need our sleep, so go to bed and turn off TV; better yet, get in the house before 1:00am.

  • Aha!

    I have 2 who have finished HS and are in college. Unless it was something out of their (or my) control, bed time was at 10 on as school night. And, they had jobs and made good grades. My Mid School kid goes to bed around 9. Maybe parents should prioritize their lives (and their kids) better than they are.

  • TS

    The teen’s biological clock often makes it difficult for him/her to go to sleep at an early time. When the student has to get up at 5:30 they are NOT getting enough sleep. Sleep, at theat age, is jsut as important as exercise and good nutrition. An 8-3 day would be ideal but 7 is much too early!

  • Tracy

    There is 30 years of scientific research supporting later start times for teens. So, the “early to bed early to rise” and “my kids did it so yours can, too” commenters really have no leg to stand on. It helps more than just grades and test scores. How many more kids have to die in car accidents, get suspended, or simply miss school for us to actually do what is best for the kids? Nobody is suggesting a noon start time – that is just poorly utilized stupid hyperbole. How about when the private Middle Schools and High Schools start? They all start much later than 7:00 am. I would be fine with anything from 7:30 to 8:30. That still gives time for after school activities and work. My daughter has sleep deprivation triggered epilepsy and this is literally a matter of life and death. She has to TRY to sleep at 9:00 pm, which is completely against all the natural rhythms of a teen’s body. I have kept her home this year more than usual because of concerns she may have a seizure at school. Also, my husband often works until 7:00 pm or later and this is really hurting our family life. 30 years of studies have shown that each 30 minutes earlier does the same damage as a bad teacher in the classroom, so a dollar saved on busing is really just flushed away.

  • pseudosun (@pseudosun)

    I’m wondering how it would go over if I said “I can’t get up early” when I was attending school? Funny. Imagine that, all this time thousands of students through the decades were unaware of “sleep wake shift”. Waking up early creates discipline. Kids can sleep later on weekends, holidays and all summer. Wake up, and get ready for the real world.

  • tasha

    Stop whining and make your kids go to bed at a decent time. I’m well in my 30’s and havea bedtime so I can function at work at 6a.m. what’s next petition the jobs for later work day’s

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