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Rep. Wants Schools To Start Later

June 25, 1998

WASHINGTON (AP) _ Wesley Hottot often found himself dozing through his first-period English class, which he loves, and his second-period trigonometry course, which he doesn’t.

He said his level of interest in the subject seldom makes a difference whether he stays awake during class.

Drumming up support for legislation that would make it easier for schools to start later in the day, the Herndon, Va., 17-year-old said postponing the start of his classes by even half an hour would help ``put us in school when we’re most ready to learn.″

Under legislation introduced Wednesday by Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-Calif., schools would be encouraged to start classes after 9 a.m. with grants of up to $25,000 to help cover operating costs related to the change.

Lofgren, mother of two teen-agers, said pupils who get to sleep in are more likely to make better grades and stop committing crimes after school. She said she came up with her proposals after reading about how adolescents’ biological clocks change as they age, increasing their need for sleep, particularly in mornings.

She said many American high schools begin classes by 7:30 a.m., which forces pupils with long commutes or who must meet school buses to stumble out of bed by 5 a.m. to get to campus on time.

Allowing students to start school later would provide the extra sleep they need to improve concentration, Lofgren said. It also would help keep them off the streets from 3-6 p.m., peak hours for juvenile crime. Other lawmakers backed her up.

``It’s invariably young people with no supervision, no place to go, because of this stupid, insane school policy, that makes them start two hours before they should have to start,″ said Rep. James Moran, D-Va. ``It doesn’t make sense, and it’s done to accommodate the convenience of people whose first priority is obviously not the education of our children.″

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