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Should Sleep-Deprived Teens Get Later CPS Start Time? Hearings Sought

By Ted Cox | September 10, 2014 5:37pm | Updated on September 11, 2014 9:33am
 Ald. Margaret Laurino wants to take up the issue of teenage students and sleep.
Ald. Margaret Laurino wants to take up the issue of teenage students and sleep.
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Sean Gallup/Getty Images

CITY HALL — In a hot-button, snooze-button issue, an alderman is seeking hearings on whether sleep-deprived teenagers would benefit from a later start time in Chicago Public Schools.

Ald. Margaret Laurino (39th) submitted the resolution at Wednesday's City Council meeting, asking the Health Committee to conduct hearings "providing information on sleep deprivation in teenagers" and to "explore [the] possibility of [a] later school start time across" CPS.

The issue was raised last month by the American Academy of Pediatrics, which put out a study showing that natural sleep cycles for adolescents make it hard for them to get to sleep early, as well as to wake up early for classes.

The study said teens were in danger of physical and mental health problems, auto accidents and poor academic performance. It recommended an 8:30 a.m. start time "or later" for high schools and middle schools, stating it would "align school schedules to the biological sleep rhythms of adolescents, whose sleep-wake cycles begin to shift up to two hours later at the start of puberty."

Mayor Rahm Emanuel and CPS Chief Executive Officer Barbara Byrd-Bennett pooh-poohed the study last month.

"I don't think the research is conclusive on that," Byrd-Bennett said.

The mayor called it "too preliminary."

Yet CPS officials Wednesday night indicated they'd be there for any hearings.

"While we have noted that studies on start times are often contradictory and changes in school start times can impact other aspects of the school day, Chicago Public Schools is happy to participate in a City Council hearing on this matter," spokesman Bill McCaffrey said.

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