News

Palo Alto superintendent: No academic classes during zero period

Early morning classes at Gunn, Paly to be limited

Palo Alto Superintendent Max McGee has decided that the district's two high schools should not offer academic classes during early morning zero period starting in the next school year, according to a message McGee sent Friday to students, staff and parents.

Zero period, which begins at 7:10 a.m. at Palo Alto High and 7:20 a.m. at Gunn High, has come under fire in recent weeks as the link between sleep and teen mental health has risen to the top of community concerns, with scores of medical professionals and one board member in particular urging Gunn and Paly to start school no earlier than 8:30 a.m., in alignment with a recent American Academy of Pediatrics policy recommendation on school start times.

Gunn's regular school day begins at 8:25 a.m. and Paly's at 8:15 a.m. Both schools shifted to these later start times several years ago. Zero period is optional.

Numerous students and parents have defended zero period, however, for the freedom it allows students to adjust their schedules to accommodate after-school activities as well as the motivation it provides students to get to sleep earlier. Other community members have suggested that it is misguided to focus on an optional earlier class that a subset of students opt into instead of the question of a mandatory start time for an entire school.

One student, Gunn sophomore class president Chloe Sorensen, conducted an online survey on zero period and 370 students responded. Of the responding students who have been enrolled in zero period (196 students), 90 percent do not want the early morning option to be removed. The same percentage of all survey respondents agreed. In numerous pages of comments, many students wrote enthusiastically in support of zero period and said they appreciate it for the time it allows them in the afternoon to do homework or miss less classtime if they are athletes.

School board member Ken Dauber, however, told the Weekly "reducing homework loads and ... implementing a system of hand-scheduling athlete schedules, as they do at Paly," should be used to achieve those aims instead of retaining zero period. He also pointed out that 45 of the responding students who have previously taken a zero period class answered the question, "If you are enrolled in a zero period class, how has it affected your life?" with descriptions of some negative sleep impacts.

McGee wrote in a memo to the school board Thursday that he wants to "underscore that this decision represents a compromise that is best for the most students most of the time according to scientific research. I want to assure them that we have listened to them and heard them, but we believe — as I sincerely do — that there are ways to reduce stress through creative scheduling and even the use of blended classes. While I am not one for restricting student choice, especially when several students have told us that taking zero-period classes reduces their stress, the science behind the decision is solid."

McGee has communicated his decision to Paly and Gunn's principals and intends to host "brown bag" lunches with students and staff for further discussion.

About 300 Gunn students are currently enrolled in zero period classes, which include both physical education and academic courses like advanced English, AB calculus, chemistry, blended AP economics and broadcast news.

Paly only offers PE during zero period, with 102 students currently enrolled. When asked by Dauber at the March 10 board meeting why her school only offers physical education during zero period, Paly Principal Kim Diorio said, "Philosophically, because of the research on sleep."

At that same meeting, Dauber suggested that the board create an official policy that prohibits academic classes during zero period. McGee wrote in his memo that if the board is interested in doing that, it should direct its policy review committee to draft one for discussion at a future board meeting.

On March 19, a group of local and regional health professionals, many of them with children in the district, wrote to the school board and McGee to endorse the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommendation. The letter began with 35 signatures and grew to 93 over the next few weeks.

Calling it a "necessary public health measure," these pediatricians, psychiatrists, therapists and professors from private practices, the Stanford School of Medicine, Lucile Packard Children's Hospital Stanford, University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) and elsewhere called on the board to implement later start times, which are described by the AAP as "an effective countermeasure to chronic sleep loss" that "has a wide range of potential benefits to students with regard to physical and mental health, safety, and academic achievement."

"The Academy notes in an accompanying technical report a nearly threefold increase in the risk of suicide attempts among adolescents who sleep less than 8 hours per night, even when controlling for confounding factors," the letter reads. "The policy statement concludes that 'both the urgency and the magnitude of the problem of sleep loss in adolescents and the availability of an intervention that has the potential to have broad and immediate effects are highly compelling.'"

The Palo Alto Medical Foundation (PAMF) pediatrics department also took an unprecedented public step into the community debate on teen well-being with a March 20 guest opinion piece that suggests several factors that should be addressed to improve students' mental health, the first one being sleep. PAMF Pediatrician Amy Heneghan, also a founding member of mental health professional coalition the HEARD Alliance, told the Weekly that Palo Alto was ahead of a national shift toward later school-start times when both schools moved their days to start at these times — Paly in 2010 and Gunn the following year — and should continue to uphold the American Academy of Pediatrics' policy.

Gunn is also in the midst of developing a new bell schedule, with a committee set to present recommendations to the board in May. McGee wrote that the committee is eyeing four models that, while not yet finalized, will not include a zero period for any academic class, if zero period exists at all.

"The Committee still has a lot of work to do on the models and feedback to gather, but I think we can all be assured that start times will be consistent with and take into account adolescents' sleep needs and patterns," McGee wrote.

Gunn's bell schedule committee is hosting a town hall on April 20, 7-9 p.m. Zero period will also be on the board's agenda on April 21.

Comments

21 people like this
Posted by Skeptic
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Apr 10, 2015 at 8:06 am

Thank goodness he came to his senses. About time. Coincidentally my ballot arrived. Connected?


48 people like this
Posted by Pat Burt
a resident of Community Center
on Apr 10, 2015 at 8:26 am

Thanks to Dr McGee for listening to the voice of the medical community and for continuing to make changes that are moving us toward healthier school climates. There is no panacea, but each positive reform matters. With everyone's full commitment, leaders, parents, medical professionals, students, teachers and the community, we can solve this problem.


18 people like this
Posted by another skeptic
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 10, 2015 at 8:47 am

I am relieved to know this. There was only one way to go with this issue and everything else has been a distraction. It is most probably related to the parcel tax. The Board and district are indefensible with their politics with the Union.

But this is not enough. What about Schoology and holding teachers accountable for homework policy? What is the Board going to do about Schoology?

And I would like to see that any new funding is ONLY for mental health and well being, not the back entrance for spending for nonsense. NO to the research olympiad position McGuee has proposed. Get parent volunteers for that or do not do it all. That 140,000 can go for a new health position at the district instead. We need a health czar.


26 people like this
Posted by At the airport
a resident of another community
on Apr 10, 2015 at 8:51 am

@another skeptic - you need to start asking the teachers and their union what they are going to do about schoology - the ball is in their court. Kelley tried, McGee has tried, and the union is blocking it. The district can't do much more until the next collective bargaining agreement.


10 people like this
Posted by Anonymous
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 10, 2015 at 9:07 am

If Measure A goes down it'll be PAEA to blame.


32 people like this
Posted by Hopeful & Thankful
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Apr 10, 2015 at 9:07 am

Thank you, Dr. McGee, for another big step in the right direction! I am feeling encouraged that a much-needed culture change is underway in our schools & community. But it takes our whole village to truly accomplish, including the parent community, teachers, students, local newspapers, school board members, etc. I am hopeful that we will unite as we recover & move forward with the common goal of our youth thriving in every way.


28 people like this
Posted by Skeptic
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Apr 10, 2015 at 9:11 am

I agree with Anonymous. The union grievance was terrible and terrible timing, sandwiched between three suicides and a tax campaign. Obviously PAEA's Baldwin and her band of cronies at Gunn care more about showing Herrmann who is boss than they do about our students. [Portion removed.]


3 people like this
Posted by The New Skelly
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 10, 2015 at 9:15 am

Yes.


14 people like this
Posted by Relieved
a resident of Community Center
on Apr 10, 2015 at 9:35 am

What a relief! Now can we please all play nice & work together as the caring community I believe that we are? There's more work to be done & we need to work together in respectful ways to accomplish what we are all aiming for: healthy, happy, & resilient children & teens who understand that there are many different paths to success.


5 people like this
Posted by Mom
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Apr 10, 2015 at 9:47 am

It's OK. They will come back without us knowing like homework policy.


13 people like this
Posted by Gunn Parent
a resident of Gunn High School
on Apr 10, 2015 at 9:48 am

The implementation timetable and plan is not clear in this article. When will this change take place? Sept 2015? Does it require Board action? Is this part of the larger Gunn Bell Schedule plan? When will this be implemented at Paly and what is the impact on sports practice?

Just because McGee said it, does not make it so. If this is subject to Board action, this directive can be subject to delay or modification.


22 people like this
Posted by ellie
a resident of College Terrace
on Apr 10, 2015 at 9:58 am

Thank you Max for doing the rational thing to support the welfare of our students. Given all the professional input about sleep and depression, the role of stress, etc. there was no other responsible decision. You continue to lead well in your role as Superintendent. Well done.


89 people like this
Posted by Zero period student
a resident of Crescent Park
on Apr 10, 2015 at 10:02 am

Zero period has significantly reduced the amount of stress in my life. As an athlete I miss a lot of class, and with the extra prep I have the opportunity to get homework done or sit in on a class. My life would have been much worse had I not had the opportunity to take zero period these past two years. I think it is also important to recognize that even though a majority of teens adhere to a lager sleep cycle, there are also studies pertaining to teens who are prone to waking up earlier (aka we do exist). For instance my regular sleep schedule is 11-6:30 on the weekends-without zero period. If I did not take zero, I would still be up then but would not have the opportunity to work during the day at school and have to stay up later. I respect the research that compelled this decision but I do not understand why we cannot have the individual choice, especially for those who do not adhere to the majority sleep schedule.


8 people like this
Posted by Trust
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 10, 2015 at 10:03 am

"What a relief! Now can we please all play nice & work together as the caring community I believe that we are?"

I believe we are, too, but until there is a genuine effort to create a culture of trust, and restore trust, even such commendable responses won't be received in that spirit. McGee really has to deal with the bigger issue of trust. And for that, he is going to have to dig deeper and not just trust those closest to him in the office who have been most responsible for hurting trust in the parent community. Unless he does this, he's going to have to deal with more and more "distractions" he just doesn't understand.


10 people like this
Posted by Do your job
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Apr 10, 2015 at 10:08 am

"with scores of medical professionals and one board member in particular urging Gunn and Paly to start school no earlier than 8:30 a.m."

Thank you to "scores of medical professionals and one board member in particular."

Why did it take "scores of medical professionals" and a board member to push McGee to do this totally obvious thing? That is worrisome, he has bad judgment.

He also for a guy who loves science enough to go halfway around the world (thanks taxpayers!) to "do" it, has no idea about science.

1. There is no evidence that being an "early riser" is a normally distributed trait as McGee declares that it is. Without evidence of the shape of the distribution the rest of what he writes is meaningless gibberish. It is scientistic but not scientific. Based on the research, I suspect the distribution is bimodal, that is that there is some small group of teens with a circadian abnormality that enables them to fall asleep early and a much larger group that cannot. It might be that the number is zero. There's no evidence that it is 16%, which is made up but stated as fact. In any event, this is a question with an answer and rather than spew junk, he could just ask one of the 93 experts who wrote him: is this trait normally distributed?

2. McGee furthermore ignores science in his quest to sound scientific. He asserts that these "16%" (made up number, see 1 above) could take classes early safely. Also unproven.

3. Most glaringly, McGee forgets to mention that there is no way to ever identify who these 16% are, and what to do if they guess wrong and end up dead.

He concludes that "the science behind the decision is sound" though he does not seem to understand what it is.

[Portion removed.]


28 people like this
Posted by gunn father
a resident of Gunn High School
on Apr 10, 2015 at 10:11 am

a SMALL step in the right direction ; the problem is , whether it is for PE or an AP class, getting up that early is a problem, period. The science is sound on this ... zero period should be abolished, period. Bigger fish yet to fry ( Bell Schdl , bad apple teachers, homework policy, etc ) ... pace is too glacial --- get going !


30 people like this
Posted by Red
a resident of Downtown North
on Apr 10, 2015 at 10:24 am

Red is a registered user.

Dr."Max" McGee, School Board Member Ken Dauber and caring health professionals-- a BIG THANK YOU! Our kids are our treasure to be protected and valued. Red


51 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 10, 2015 at 10:34 am

"Of the responding students who have been enrolled in zero period (196 students), 90 percent do not want the early morning option to be removed."

System 1, Kids 0


33 people like this
Posted by Wondering
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Apr 10, 2015 at 10:50 am

For those few morning larks that want zero period since it frees up prep time in the afternoon, can they just not independently use that zero period time at home to do their prep work?


9 people like this
Posted by Progress
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Apr 10, 2015 at 10:54 am

One small step for student health, one giant leap for Measure A.


It feels like they are doing the easiest, absolute minimum tat the very last minute to squeak by on Measure A. While this may pick up a few votes, I don't think it solves the biggest problems: in the classrooms there are inconsistent teachers, teachers who pressure, intimidate and retaliate if any kid or parent speaks out.


You think zero period makes you lose sleep? Try a year in the Pound. Or with Paly math dept. sure there are some great teachers, but many remain terribly equipped to engage (or disengage) students.

Until you remove the worst and retrain the rest, I am still voting No on Measure A


18 people like this
Posted by Another dad
a resident of Barron Park
on Apr 10, 2015 at 10:54 am

Great, but meaningless without significant homework limitations...that are enforced.

I'd like to point out that the 90% of students who want zero period want it because they are overloaded. Homework overload is the root cause of all this. Fix the disease not the symptoms.


29 people like this
Posted by Gunn student
a resident of Midtown
on Apr 10, 2015 at 10:54 am

I happen to agree with the people who have praised this decision. Waking up so early is detrimental to student performance. The science is clear on that. What I would say to students who like their zero period is that I know just as many people who stay up too late with homework and wake up too early. I would also push back against claims by some students that "we aren't being listened to." We are being listened to, but being in the conversation is different than losing the argument.


73 people like this
Posted by Gunn Student
a resident of Gunn High School
on Apr 10, 2015 at 11:24 am

Most students at Gunn do not want Zero Period to be removed so please stop making changes to Gunn without talking to the students first. WE DON'T WANT A BLOCK SCHEDULE OR THE REMOVAL OF ZERO PERIOD!!!!!!! The school board should not be assuming that these things are affecting our mental stability without first talking to the students about it. Actions and desires of the few do not reflect the desires of the entire community and all the students at Gunn. Please stop trying to fix things without our input. The whole reason we had a student panel was to get our voices heard and you apparently you aren't listening.


15 people like this
Posted by Student
a resident of Gunn High School
on Apr 10, 2015 at 11:32 am

[Post removed due to same poster using multiple names]


14 people like this
Posted by Palo Verde Parent
a resident of Palo Verde
on Apr 10, 2015 at 11:33 am

I am not sure what this accomplishes. I keep hearing "why does PAUSD have all the suicides an so much stress and not other surrounding districts", but Los Altos High, Mountain View High, Menlo Atherton and Woodside High School all have zero period. This was just an option for kids to manage their day.

I find it interesting that they can still offer non academic classes. If start time was the issue does it matter if you are in PE or Math? I hope that the Gunn administration will work with the kids and maybe move a Music class to Zero period since most of the kids who were in zero period were also taking multiple music classes.

I also wonder about sports practices. Will they still be allowed to happen before school? From what I read here, the answer would be yes. So, the decision has been made that students need to start their day later so zero period will end BUT only for some kids. This doesn't make a lot of sense to me.


18 people like this
Posted by Student
a resident of Gunn High School
on Apr 10, 2015 at 11:36 am

[Post removed due to same poster using multiple names]


32 people like this
Posted by Skeptic
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Apr 10, 2015 at 11:44 am

Here's a thought. For you supposed early risers who work better in the morning, why don't you get up early and do your homework, study for upcoming tests, or work on papers that you have due in the upcoming week? Just call it "study hall @home" You can have your very own zero period at your dining room table. No one took your choice to get up early and work. They took your choice to do it inside a school building.

If your real goal is to get an extra class, you can even do that online. You can get up and do your "blended" learning. You can call it "Blended learning class @home".

You can even make a little card that says "Zero period at the top, with your name, and the schedule including "blended learning@home MWF 7:00am" and "study hall@home" TR 7:00am.
[Portion removed.]


11 people like this
Posted by Skeptic
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Apr 10, 2015 at 11:46 am

Also, good point about sports practices and PE. Thanks for bringing that up. Would you like those removed next?


27 people like this
Posted by Menlo Park Parent
a resident of Menlo Park
on Apr 10, 2015 at 11:48 am

Thank you to the superintendent for doing what is best for the students. Just because 90% of children want candy for dinner doesn't mean it is good for them.


17 people like this
Posted by Student
a resident of Gunn High School
on Apr 10, 2015 at 11:58 am

[Post removed due to same poster using multiple names]


11 people like this
Posted by Well there you go.
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Apr 10, 2015 at 11:59 am

Well there you go. So the problem is solved. No we can get back to teacher-bashing with full force, none of that pesky zero-period nonsense to distract us (who will listen to the children? Evidently not their parents. Unless the children tell them what they want to hear.) Let's all get back to work trashing the teacher community because we all know that's where the REAL problems are in this district, not at home.


62 people like this
Posted by Another Gunn Student
a resident of Gunn High School
on Apr 10, 2015 at 11:59 am

The parents above are being really rude and inconsiderate of the students opinions. This is why things aren't getting done, because they can't compromise and only want what they think is best. Sometimes adults do not know what is best. It's our school and it's our future. Let us decide what we want.


4 people like this
Posted by yeah
a resident of Greater Miranda
on Apr 10, 2015 at 12:07 pm


@Skeptic

This whole thing doesn't work if the kids are not sleeping. They HAVE to be a sleep at 7am. Stop putting ideas in their heads. We are ALL built the same and science proves that sleep at 7am is the ONLY thing these kids should be doing. Now it is up to us parents to enforce this. No longer do they have a choice. Make SURE your kids are sleeping at 7am no matter what.


34 people like this
Posted by A Gunn Parent
a resident of Los Altos Hills
on Apr 10, 2015 at 12:11 pm

I have had the privilege of three children having attended or currently attending Gunn HS. All of them have independently opted for 0 period. In addition to alleviating the issue of after school sports interfering with classes later in the day, they all enjoyed attending math class (yes- math) first thing in the morning.

Thank you Dr McGee for listening and making changes, but I don't agree with this one.


9 people like this
Posted by Teen
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Apr 10, 2015 at 12:12 pm

[Post removed due to same poster using multiple names]


16 people like this
Posted by Real parent
a resident of Professorville
on Apr 10, 2015 at 12:12 pm

Listening to doctors about sleep is an obvious choice for health. Thank you to Dr. Mcgee and Mr. Dauber for doing the right thing for our students. 7:20 in the morning is too early for students to be at school. They need a good night sleep.


15 people like this
Posted by A Parent, too
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 10, 2015 at 12:18 pm

Dr. McGee,

Thank you for leadership under difficult circumstances.


30 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 10, 2015 at 12:20 pm

I have sympathy for the students who feel that they aren't being heard. Yes I hear you. I am listening.

But there are good reasons why sometimes adults make decisions that affect those who are still too young to make all their decisions for themselves.

There are good reasons why 15 year olds can't decide things for themselves. They can't make medical decisions for themselves, a parent has to sign for them. They can't make financial decisions for themselves, a parent has to cosign a bank account or debit card. They can't get a passport for themselves, both parents need to sign for that.

Sometimes educational decisions can be made by a 15 year old. But anything that involves their health and welfare has to be made by adults. Sorry, but that is the way the world works.

And yes, I am listening to you. If you wish to get up and do a sport, or a p.e. class, that is something you can do without zero academic period. If you wish to get up early and do homework or study for a test, that is something you can do without zero period. If you want to do 8 periods of academic high stressful classes, you can also do that without Gunn providing zero period, you can find an online or out of school class to do it. But, there are times that the adults in charge make a policy decision that may not suit you, but it is done for the best reasons, like telling you not to text and drive, or to wear a helmet while riding your bike.


16 people like this
Posted by Palo Verde Parent
a resident of Palo Verde
on Apr 10, 2015 at 12:27 pm

@skeptic

I actually don't want them to remove PE or sports practices, I just want them to be consistent. I was pointing out the inconsistencies with this policy. I think zero period should be an OPTION for those who choose it.


6 people like this
Posted by Student
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Apr 10, 2015 at 12:29 pm

[Post removed due to same poster using multiple names]


28 people like this
Posted by C
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Apr 10, 2015 at 12:34 pm

[Portion removed.] It is astonishing the extent to which certain parents' whims have been overruling student opinions lately.

I think it's horrifying that the District isn't conducting a school-wide survey on opinions on zero period, and instead relying on students to do it themselves. I think the reason for this is the fact that the board is going to get raked over the coals by The Weekly and many of the commenters here for actually doing what they're supposed to do ("how dare they 'delay' the implementation of something I want to do due diligence!") and while I am sympathetic to the cause of listening to a vocal minority, the board shouldn't ignore everyone else's opinions or deny chances for the less-vocal to air their views. It's terrible how many people ignore the student-done survey indicating 90% of all students support zero period.


24 people like this
Posted by Lisa
a resident of Community Center
on Apr 10, 2015 at 12:39 pm

Eliminating zero period is not only for sleep reasons, but it will also help to tone down the academic competitivness that I think our school district so desparately needs. I think that the motive behind taking zero period advanced academic classes is about obtaining a competitive edge. The school environment in Palo Alto needs to drop down a few notches on the "high achievement scale" and help our children to see that there is a great life ahead of them no matter what college they attend or where their education leads them. Our goal should be to raise healthy, happy, and well adjusted children who understand that there are many different paths to success.


10 people like this
Posted by Marc Vincenti
a resident of Gunn High School
on Apr 10, 2015 at 12:49 pm

Remarkably, the "zero-period" issue is the first to come before the School Board that deals with a day-in-day-out, yearlong condition of school.

"Save the 2,008," the community initiative, addresses other such "everyday" issues—which lie at the core of our problem.

To read and sign the S2K8 "Open Letter to the School Board and the Superintendent"—scheduled to appear in the newspaper and now with some 120 signers—please visit:

www.savethe2008.com


7 people like this
Posted by C
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Apr 10, 2015 at 12:58 pm

We allows minors to be emancipated to give certain independent youths the ability to make their own decisions - and while the rights of emancipated minors vary state to state, most do allow them to enter into legally binding contracts, make their own medical decisions, etc. Anything that involves the health and welfare of children does NOT have to be made by adults - in fact, we allow certain medical decisions to be made WITHOUT the consent of adults simply because they would complicate things (most obvious example of this would be anything relating to sexual health). And there is also precedent for minors controlling their own medical decisions outside of this realm. Just like "there are good reasons why sometimes adults make decisions that affect those who are still too young to make all their decisions for themselves" there are good reasons why sometimes adults shouldn't have complete control over decisions made on behalf of children.

I also think it's important to point out that the evidence regarding the correlation between damage and not wearing a helmet is massively larger and stronger than the correlation between 0-period and suicide (which some commenters are concerned about).

Just one example that took me about 10 seconds to find on Google - Web Link which found that "The court has resolved this issue in favor of the minor E.G., holding that a mature minor has a common law right to consent to, or refuse, medical treatment"


5 people like this
Posted by Let's get real
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Apr 10, 2015 at 1:00 pm

@C

You are complaining about "certain parents' whims" and "a vocal minority". Are you referring to the American Academy of Pediatrics, the PAMF pediatricians, the HEARD Alliance, sleep experts from Stanford, 100 local doctors...? If so, why not identify them directly? If not, why not educate yourself about the issue [portion removed]?


3 people like this
Posted by Let's get real
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Apr 10, 2015 at 1:03 pm

@C

Sorry, I missed your last comment. I see that you have a libertarian worldview that rejects public health measures, combined with a conviction that the taxpayer should fund risky options without regard to their health consequences.

My view: feel free to ride your own motorcycle without a helmet. Just don't expect me to buy the bike for you.


6 people like this
Posted by Fred
a resident of Barron Park
on Apr 10, 2015 at 1:07 pm

Ballot time - the silly season - is upon us. Inconveniencing a couple hundred kids is a small price to pay to ensure that the skeptics - almost none of whom have kids taking zero period - vote to pass the parcel tax. McGee proves himself at least an adequate politician, something Skelly never was.


10 people like this
Posted by Hannah
a resident of University South
on Apr 10, 2015 at 1:11 pm

I attende assess up school--Monta Vista in Cupertino--which has had no suicides, higher scores, and loads of tiger parents ( about 80%).

The differences that the high achievers DO NOT do after school sports-- they do after school ACADEMICS a or tutoring or homework. Not having sports practice and games reduces a lot of stress and time constraints.


12 people like this
Posted by tbt to wasc
a resident of Stanford
on Apr 10, 2015 at 1:13 pm

Web Link

See #2. Big shoutouts to the board and angry pressure groups for putting so much stock in WASC's recommendations!


22 people like this
Posted by Bob
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 10, 2015 at 1:18 pm

We have all been subjected to a lot of hysteria about “zero-period”, yet we have not seen any actual data from the students who have opted for this early morning class demonstrating its ill effects. One would have thought that by now people would have spent some time digging through the records of all of the students in this time-slot and tried to see if the claims of the “literature” were replicated in this reasonably-sized test group.

So many questions and still so few answers:

How many students in this group (as far back as the records exist) have committed suicide?
How many students have openly expressed inclinations of committing suicide?
How many students have dropped out, claiming too much stress?
Has the overall academic performance of this group been lower, equal, higher than the rest of the students?
Have teachers objected to teaching one hour earlier?
Has there been any evidence of impact on activities outside of school?
How many students want zero-period removed from the schedule?

Since we as a community still have little insight into the nature of the problems facing those who committed suicide, how is it that we, as a community, are so certain that shutting down zero-period will actually stop the suicides, or affect in any way the problems of those who may actually be exhibiting mental illness?

If zero-period is terminated—so be it. But there really needs to be clearly demonstrable results to justify this decision [portion removed.]


6 people like this
Posted by a snapshot in time
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Apr 10, 2015 at 1:21 pm

One problem we face in these community discussions about our high schools is many are posting about their current or past experiences, which may reflect a brief window of experience - what I am calling a snapshot in time. Some of us have had longer experience/perspective, though, so I hope this may be informative:
As one who attended high school here and later returned and had children in the schools here AND has experience and perspective with other areas/schools, here is my input:
Citing that Los Altos High or one other area school has zero period and therefore PAUSD should keep zero period, is NOT a good argument. ALL these schools and districts have gone through tremendous changes in leadership, curriculum, policies over the years. They are not static. Generally speaking, we can say PAUSD is a very high achieving and respected district within California and sometimes at the national level over time. But, I can personally attest to the fact that the high school bell schedules have NOT been the same over the years, even in recent times there have been big swings. PALY less than ten years ago had a stressful daily bell schedule - not it does not. So, if you are new here or new to high school, you may not realize that. It makes a difference in our discussion. We have not operate on what is happening NOW. We also should follow advice from very respected local medical professionals who have worked in this community for years. Therefore, I recommend eliminating zero period as it has NOT "always existed" AND has been used in recent years for parents to have their kids gain an extra AP strictly for college admissions applications advantage over peers, which DOES stress out many peers for no good reason. The procedure for student athletes I admit I do not know and never have particularly known, but I trust we can all agree that SCHOOL comes before competitive high school sports and zero period may or may not be "necessary" or "appropriate" but should be examined.


3 people like this
Posted by a snapshot in time
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Apr 10, 2015 at 1:30 pm

Sorry, should be "We have TO operate on what is happening NOW."

I don't believe the district should cater to parents who tease out any possible competitive advantage for their teens such as zero period to squeak in more AP courses. This creates a tense atmosphere for the school environment as everyone is attempting to suss out what everyone else is doing to race ahead.

it should be substance not quantity. Yeah, I know there are some parents I could never convince, but TRY to support your teens learning at school without examining everything through the lens of how to gain any smidgen of competitive advantage. Your kid may better retain what s/he has learned, enjoy school, have some time for contemplation, rather than prepping for the slightest gain on AP or SAT scores. We aren't all composed of our stats, thought some are clearly focused on that.

It is up to district leaders to maintain a level playing field in the schools, during school instruction time.


24 people like this
Posted by Parent
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Apr 10, 2015 at 1:32 pm

Wow nothing like removing options for students to manage their workloads, for really reducing stress. Heckuva job...

So how does this effect athletes? I guarantee there's nothing more singularly stressful for a serious student than having to miss class - and athletes often have to miss the same class multiple times in one semester if their class is scheduled at the end of the day. And we're not talking about missing PE. Are the athletes going to get guarantees that they'll get their PE prep periods at the end of day? Because it hasn't been that way. Is McGee at the same time mandating the hand scheduling for athletes that is flippantly suggested in this article? Cuz that doesn't happen.

Or would we next suggest that athletics should go because its too stressful for students? I wouldnt' be surprised if that's the next thing we hear, with the short sighted, heavy handed know-it-alls on this board.

How does this effect students who are trying to have jobs, who are trying to get their required volunteer time in? Are those things also going to be mandated to be eliminated?

Just out of curiousity - are kids being required to do zero period 7am classes? No, pretty sure they are voluntary, and so I just have to wonder what skin it is off anyone else's noses if a small % of kids want to get that opportunity. Oh wait.... the only other ones with skin in the game would be the teachers........


56 people like this
Posted by Student
a resident of Gunn High School
on Apr 10, 2015 at 1:34 pm

@a snapshot in time
You don't seem to grasp the fact that most students don't want zero period for the extra AP. In fact i'll go as far as saying that over 80% don't. For most of us its about having the time to do something that we love after school. For example I have a friend that does horseback riding and her times are after school during G period. The only reason why she can make it is because of her G prep from zero period. By taking away zero period you're not reducing stress you removing activities that make us happy.


60 people like this
Posted by Displeased Gunn Student
a resident of Gunn High School
on Apr 10, 2015 at 1:46 pm

Can you please stop disregarding students' views? Stop trying to "fix" something that is clearly not the problem. The removal of zero period is causing me stress...taking a class I want to take does not cause me stress or affect my sleep for that matter. I consistently get at least 8 hours of sleep and I know that's better than most of my peers who don't take zero period. We don't want to lose this choice and obviously we already have but I'm just begging the community to start listening to students...please.


41 people like this
Posted by Opposed
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Apr 10, 2015 at 2:00 pm

This is the dumbest idea. Zero period was created for a reason... It makes some students schedules LESS STRESSFUL. [Portion removed.]


5 people like this
Posted by a snapshot in time
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Apr 10, 2015 at 2:03 pm

@ Student/Gunn, in response to your post, I attended Gunn myself and was a major competitor on the horse show circuit. I invested massive time in that activity outside of school hours. School started at 8:05AM then, to my recollection, and we had A and B day schedules, which worked great. I have attempted to point out that Gunn and PALY (and other area HS) schedules have shifted numerous times over the years, which then leads to claims that one school has a better situation than at another...I have no idea why there has been so many changes and also this applies to the school calendar year, which has shifted wildly.
I felt no need for a zero period. The one thing that did happen was when I was a sophomore, someone (counselor?) found out I got so much physical exercise on my own that I was excused from P.E. I don't know if there is still a system to apply for that -
Besides team athletes and individual athletes (such as your friend and me), there are plenty of students who have time consuming activities after school or one weekends. What teens do need is reasonable sleep and to give serious consideration to medical research such as that brought to our attention by the Palo Alto physicians.
I did post that school team athletes may have a different situation than "regular" students who are attempting to up their number of AP courses.
So we have various situations/scenarios of students. The one thing I am not sympathetic of is catering to those who are "doing school."


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Posted by Student
a resident of Gunn High School
on Apr 10, 2015 at 2:06 pm

@a snapshot in time

Unfortunately the administration has set up an uber strict policy where they will not under ANY circumstances give a prep for a none school sport.


8 people like this
Posted by Let's get real
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Apr 10, 2015 at 2:10 pm

@Bob

"How many students in this group (as far back as the records exist) have committed suicide?"

My guess is that the answer is at least one. From a report on a school board meeting a couple of weeks ago (Web Link):

"There are reasons that I am worried about zero period and I believe that if all the facts were publicly known that the public would share my concerns." Dauber said, noting that the board is informed of facts about students that, due to student privacy, are not shared with the public.

Joshi told Dauber that "sleep deprivation cannot be ruled out as having played a role in at least some of our tragedies," Dauber said.

And apparently many of the zero-period students surveyed reported that it cost them sleep.

But what is the point? We're going to ignore medical evidence until we have a tragedy? Sounds like Russian Roulette, not a sensible plan for a school district schedule. Anyways, I'm sure that if it comes out that one of the students who died was in zero period, we'll be hearing about how the connection has to be "proved" before the district should pay attention.


2 people like this
Posted by C
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Apr 10, 2015 at 2:18 pm

"You are complaining about "certain parents' whims" and "a vocal minority". Are you referring to the American Academy of Pediatrics, the PAMF pediatricians, the HEARD Alliance, sleep experts from Stanford, 100 local doctors...? If so, why not identify them directly? If not, why not educate yourself about the issue"

Well, I was predominantly referring to those who often profess to have contacted the board or attended the meeting (and mention how slow the process is, etc. and want it expedited despite the fact this might limit time for public commentary) - you will note that I write "The Weekly and many of the commenters" in my original post. I said a "vocal minority" because I honestly have no idea whether it is a minority or majority of Palo Alto parents (and students) who support later start times but I do think that there is a silent majority (again, as I said in my original post). I can't say which way it will swing if it does, so I just declared those lobbying a minority -- I will correct this to majority/minority because neither of us can say which it is because no survey has been done. I used the word "whim" explicitly because it has a connotation of acting without thinking about consequences - which is what I feel we are doing here by ignoring student opinions (even if we "listen" to them). My greatest point is that this decision shouldn't be made without student input (survey! It's not that hard) more than it whether shouldn't be made at all.

"I see that you have a libertarian worldview that rejects public health measures, combined with a conviction that the taxpayer should fund risky options without regard to their health consequences.

My view: feel free to ride your own motorcycle without a helmet. Just don't expect me to buy the bike for you."

Well I obviously wasn't clear in my first post, but I strongly support requirements to wear helmets etc. because the evidence is so overwhelming. I said that the evidence here is less clear cut, and so we should be more skeptical. Sorry if this gives me a "libertarian" world view -- but by the way I do support public health measures and wish the US had a system more like many European countries do (not that this is particularly relevant?).

PS Why is it that all the students asking for 0 period to stay are receiving little attention here and everywhere else, while I'm receiving all sorts of responses?


1 person likes this
Posted by don't get it
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 10, 2015 at 2:22 pm

Lisa,

Your explanation ("help to tone down the academic competitiveness") must be the reason behind the push to eliminate zero period in the bifurcated way reported because, as others have posted, either all students need the morning sleep or they don't.

But how does removing zero period "tone down academic competitiveness?" If all students are limited to 7 periods a day, when they take those classes is irrelevant. For the few who took more than 7, pass a board policy or whatever that draws the line at 7 and the problem is solved.

The grave danger with make-or-break posturing around zero period is that it gives a false positive and doesn't much help those need it -- teens suffering from severe depression. Insomnia is very common among suffering teens who can be up to 3 am night after night. School starting at 8:30, 9:30 or even 10:30 am will be too early for them.

As puzzling is the laser focus on our schools as the salvation, while giving a free pass to public agencies and offices that no one seems to be pressing for help or change.

Where is:

Santa Clara County in getting more mental health services to its families with children who suffer? Web Link

PAMF, which came together to inform school start policy, but no plan to add psychiatrists and beds for our children who need them?

The City of Palo Alto helping residents who re trying to access those services?

Where too is the public outcry (or even whimper) about $13 BILLION of Prop 63 state taxes -- averaging $5,000+ per kid suffering - collected for the last 10 years for mental health help that appears to have just up and disappeared (2015 Little Hoover Commission report: "about 25 percent of California’s overall mental health spending continues to evade effective evaluation" Web Link)?



3 people like this
Posted by chop chop chop
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Apr 10, 2015 at 2:28 pm

[Post removed.]


4 people like this
Posted by Sara
a resident of Addison School
on Apr 10, 2015 at 3:03 pm


You need to see these students. Really take a look at their faces. They look exhausted, worn-out, depressed, sleep-deprived. They have been getting up at 5am four times a week for years. We need to report this school to the AAP. Surely these are high-risk un-healthy kids.

Web Link

oh wait a second.....


19 people like this
Posted by OPar
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Apr 10, 2015 at 3:05 pm

Good--glad to see McGee is moving this way. And if it has something to do with the vote on Measure A, I'm fine with that. This is politics--given how much behind-the-scenes pressure there was to keep the illicit academic zero period (the mayor, Camille Townsend's contingent, possibly the union), it's good to see our voices having some effect.

Okay, next up--teachers need to get on board with Schoology. Drop the grievance and make it possible for the administration and community to monitor homework loads. Let's act in good faith here--if there are volunteers who can help with the implementation, let's go for it.

The lives and emotional well-being of our youth matter more than our personal convenience. (And, yes, that goes for you, too, "student"--if you are a student.)
There's no excuse for continuing a situation where so many teens are severely depressed and stressed. It's not a matter of blame, but a matter of doing what we can to improve the situation. I can't change a child's parents, but I can push for a healthier school environment.


6 people like this
Posted by Vin
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Apr 10, 2015 at 3:11 pm

Let's really fix this problem and start school at 10 am. Sleep deprivation is a serious issue that's killing our youth. A 10 am start would ensure every child is fully rested.

Besides, moving the start of school ftom 7:20 to 8:30 means kids will just stay up an hour later.


7 people like this
Posted by Jerry Underdal
a resident of Barron Park
on Apr 10, 2015 at 3:29 pm

Jerry Underdal is a registered user.

@C

"It's terrible how many people ignore the student-done survey indicating 90% of all students support zero period."

The article reports that "of the responding students who have been enrolled in zero period (196 students), 90 percent do not want the early morning option to be removed." The article didn't say how responding students who have *not* been enrolled in zero period answered the survey question. That would be relevant for us to know.


13 people like this
Posted by Mark Gould
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Apr 10, 2015 at 3:35 pm

My question is how many of the students who want to keep zero period as an option for their classmates are doctors? How many are sleep researchers? Or psychiatrists? It's fine to ask teenagers about what should be served for lunch, or weekday electives they would like. It makes no sense to ask them what they think about a health and safety issue. What about drinking and driving? Or seatbelts? Let's take a poll!


31 people like this
Posted by A
a resident of Gunn High School
on Apr 10, 2015 at 3:43 pm

After reading this article, all I can say is that I'm disappointed and discouraged. Those who celebrate the announcement as progress conveniently ignore the wishes of 90% of the student body. We have repeatedly expressed our discontent, only to be ignored. It seems a little deceitful for him to make such an announcement over spring break, presumably so that fewer students would hear. This announcement follows the decision to switch from our normal schedule to a block schedule. I'd like to note that we were never officially told that that would be the case. Though we knew that it was being considered but I had to confirm with a teacher that there would be a schedule change, although it is unknown when it will be implemented. It feels like we're deliberately being kept out of the loop.

This announcement changes nothing. Zero period is not the issue. This is for show, so someone somewhere gets to say, "look I did something! we're pushing for progress!". This is not the right kind of change.


3 people like this
Posted by A
a resident of Gunn High School
on Apr 10, 2015 at 3:47 pm

@JerryUnderdal

"One student, Gunn sophomore class president Chloe Sorensen, conducted an online survey on zero period and 370 students responded. Of the responding students who have been enrolled in zero period (196 students), 90 percent do not want the early morning option to be removed. The same percentage of all survey respondents agreed."

Could you not be bothered to read the next sentence? Please learn to read the article before commenting.


6 people like this
Posted by C
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Apr 10, 2015 at 3:50 pm

"The article reports that "of the responding students who have been enrolled in zero period (196 students), 90 percent do not want the early morning option to be removed." The article didn't say how responding students who have *not* been enrolled in zero period answered the survey question. That would be relevant for us to know."

From the article:
"One student, Gunn sophomore class president Chloe Sorensen, conducted an online survey on zero period that indicated 90 percent of students who have been enrolled in zero period (196 students who responded to the survey) do not want the early morning option to be removed. The same percentage of all students who responded (370 total) agreed."

I assumed that because they knew the number of students who took zero period in the survey that it asked whether you had taken a 0-period class (or not). And based on whether they checked "yes" or "no," that you could determine that 196 students responding had, and that 174 had not. I then assumed that ~90% of these 174 students were supportive of 0-period, because "The same percentage of all students who responded (370 total) agreed." I might've gone wrong somewhere, I sort of skimmed the article.

Obviously this isn't an ideal survey but the district hasn't conducted one so it's what I have to work with.


4 people like this
Posted by A
a resident of Gunn High School
on Apr 10, 2015 at 4:15 pm

As a student in zero period, I'd like to address some concerns about zero period.

Once, out of curiosity, I asked my zero period teacher about class averages on tests. I thought our class would benefit more if test curves were based on the class average, instead of the whole math lane (which consists of other class my teacher and others teach). My teacher told me that our class would suffer. Aka, we do better than some of the other classes.

It's not just the students who benefit and voluntarily choose zero period. It's voluntary for teachers too. They like it because it means another prep during the day, and maybe going home earlier. Teachers who teach zero period support zero period. They're just as frustrated as students who take zero period.


3 people like this
Posted by don't get it
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 10, 2015 at 4:39 pm

Michael Fitzgerald, the executive director of Behavioral Health Services at El Camino Hospital, shares my frustration (from today's Palo Alto Online article "Panel: No easy fixes for teen depression, suicide"):

In Santa Clara County "adolescent mental health services are either minimal or nonexistent [adding that] the problem is going to need to be addressed by multiple agencies, including schools, hospitals and families. . . 'We really have to work together as a whole community.'"

Fitzgerald: "only getting five or six hours of sleep a night probably doesn't cause a kid to commit suicide, but things like lack of rest, increased stress, bullying and overuse of technology can all 'go into that kids' decision."

Web Link


2 people like this
Posted by Jerry Underdal
a resident of Barron Park
on Apr 10, 2015 at 4:49 pm

Jerry Underdal is a registered user.

A,

My apologies, you're correct that I was calling for information that was right in front of my eyes. Please read on to see a related comment.

C,

Thanks for making in a gentler fashion the same point that A made.

My concern is that we not be too quick to project the 90% approval of zero period expressed by respondents onto the entire student body of about 1900 students since it's not a complete nor a randomized survey.


3 people like this
Posted by Go Max!
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Apr 10, 2015 at 4:51 pm

@don’t get it. The person you quoted above, Michael Fitzgerald, is an RN so I would not take his word on sleep and suicidality. Here is what the experts say and why I applaud Dr. McGee's leadership:

"A number of recent studies have focused on the possible relationship between sleep and suicidal ideation. Sleeping less than 8 hours at night seems to be associated with an almost threefold increased risk of suicide attempts after controlling for a number of confounding variables."
The American Academy of Pediatrics, Policy Statement- School Start Times for Adolescents, August 18, 2014
Web Link

"Recent study (2014) on the relationship between start times and suicide finding an astounding 58% increase in suicide attempts for every hour less of sleep obtained by students who had a 7:20am start time."
The American Academy of Pediatrics, Technical Report - Insufficient Sleep in Adolescents and Young Adults: An Update on Causes and Consequences, August 18, 2014 Web Link

"Controlling for background variables, the odds of a student feeling sad and hopeless increased by 38%; of reporting serious suicidal ideation, by 42%, and of having already attempted suicide increased by a striking 58% for each hour less of sleep a student obtained...".
Sleepless in Fairfax: The Difference One More Hour of Sleep Can Make for Teen Hopelessness, Suicidal Ideation, and Substance Use
Adam Winsler • Aaron Deutsch • Robert Daniel Vorona • Phyllis Abramczyk Payne • Mariana Szklo-Coxe
Received: 13 May 2014 / Accepted: 12 August 2014 Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014 Web Link


7 people like this
Posted by Go Max!
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Apr 10, 2015 at 4:54 pm

" "Sleep is not optional. It’s a health imperative, like eating, breathing and physical activity,” Dr. Judith A. Owens, the [American Academy of Pediatrics sleep policy] statement’s lead author, said in an interview. This is a huge issue for adolescents."

Insufficient sleep in adolescence increases the risks of high blood pressure and heart disease, Type 2 diabetes and obesity, said Dr. Owens, pediatric sleep specialist at Children’s National Health System in Washington. Sleeplessness is also linked to risk-taking behavior, depression and suicidal ideation, and car accidents.

Sleep deprivation can also have a negative effect on mood. Inadequate sleep raises the risk of depression, and sleeping less than eight hours a night has been linked to a nearly THREEFOLD increased risk of suicide attempts, after other potential causes are accounted for.

Lack of sleep can be fatal,” she said. The level of impairment associated with sleep-deprived driving is equivalent to driving drunk. Would you let a kid drive who just consumed three or four beers? Well, guess what — kids do that every day.”

In a 2008 study in Virginia Beach, where classes began at 7:20 to 7:25 a.m., the crash rate for 16- to 18-year-olds was 41 percent higher than in adjacent Chesapeake, Va., where school started at 8:40 to 8:45. Lack of sleep can be fatal,” she said. The level of impairment associated with sleep-deprived driving is equivalent to driving drunk. Would you let a kid drive who just consumed three or four beers? Well, guess what — kids do that every day.”

And with the current intense concern about raising academic achievement, it is worth noting that a study by Kyla Wahlstrom of 9,000 students in eight Minnesota public high schools showed that starting school a half-hour later resulted in an hour’s more sleep a night and an increase in the students’ grade point averages and standardized test scores.

"When the students were more alert, they were able to get their work done faster and thus get to bed earlier," Dr. Owens said. "It takes a sleepy student five hours to do three hours of homework."

Above text from Brody, Hard Lesson in Sleep For Teenagers, New York Times, 20 October 2014 overview of the American Pediatrics sleep policy statement that was issued in August 2014.
Web Link


4 people like this
Posted by Go Max!
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Apr 10, 2015 at 4:57 pm

"Parents setting age appropriate bedtimes and enforcing wind-down time for teens is important and beneficial but parents must also recognize that most teens will not be able to sleep until 11pm or later. Thus if teens need about 9 1/4 hours of sleep to do their best and naturally go to sleep around 11:00 pm, one way to get more sleep is to start school later. Teens can naturally fall asleep by 11:00 pm or so; therefore simple math dictates the need for a start time of 9:00 am or later."
PTAC Student Sleep Subcommittee Initial Report, March 2, 2010
Web Link

What we see is chronic sleep loss in adolescents that has taken on the aspects of a public health issue,” said Judith A. Owens, M.D., M.P.H., FAAP, lead author of both statements. “We hope this policy statement galvanizes school districts into seriously thinking about changing their start times.”

Sounding alarm on need for later school start times, AAP NEWS Vol. 35 No. 9 September 1, 2014
Web Link

“Similar to what has been reported in subsequent studies, bedtimes did not change with the delay in start times, but morning wake times were significantly later, resulting in the students obtaining nearly 1 hour more of sleep on school nights.”

Insufficient Sleep in Adolescents and Young Adults: An Update on Causes and Consequences
Judith Owens, MD Web Link


13 people like this
Posted by parent of a teen
a resident of Downtown North
on Apr 10, 2015 at 4:57 pm

@Mark Gould

They aren't third graders you know. Many can drive, vote, go off to war, have babies and become parents themselves. They are future doctors, future psychiatrists and maybe even future sleep researchers. And if a Gunn teenager tells me that they are early birds, I believe them. It is insulting that you think otherwise.


6 people like this
Posted by Go Max!
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Apr 10, 2015 at 5:00 pm

“Inadequate and disrupted sleep has negative impacts on multiple areas related to mental health. For instance, Winsler, Deutsch, Vorona, Payne, and Szklo-Coxe Winsler (2014) found that just one hour less of weekday sleep was associated with significantly greater odds of feeling hopeless, seriously considering suicide, suicide attempts, and substance use among the adolescents surveyed in their study [of] 27,939 [high school students in] grades 8, 10, and 12), leading the investigators to conclude that insufficient sleep is a risk factor for depression, suicidality, and substance use.”
Adolescent Sleep Delay and School Start Times, A Review of the Literature and Lessons Learned from Other Districts,
June Han, Ph.D. December 2014

Web Link


“It is now well established that teenagers have a tendency toward later bedtimes and rise times. Most high schools in the US have early morning start times. For many high school students this results in a conflict between their sleep needs and the requirements of their school schedules. So, do later school times really help high school students? Based on accumulating evidence, the answer is unequivocally yes. Increasing numbers of studies conducted in various parts of the country show that a change in the start time of the school day can make a significant positive change in the lives of students.”

“Changes made in school start times in several locations in Minnesota in the 1990's showed early positive results. Keeping the length of the school day the same but changing the start of the school day from 7:15 AM to 8:40 AM or from 7:25 AM to 8:30 AM resulted in improved functioning for both urban and suburban students. Urban students had better attendance, decreased tardiness and fewer visits to the school nurse. Suburban students tended to keep their regular bed times and so added about an hour of sleep per night and were able to get more homework done during the day because of increased alertness and efficiency. In Massachusetts a change in middle-school start times for younger teens also proved beneficial. Students at a school with a 8:37 AM start time slept about one hour more, had less difficulty staying awake in school, and had better grades than students at a school with a 7:15 AM start time. A recent study at a private Rhode Island high school showed that shifting the start time from 8:00 AM to 8:30 AM increased the number of students getting 8 hours of sleep a night from 16% to 55%, improved attendance, and resulted in fewer visits by students to the health center. Mood improvements were also noted among the students. Perhaps most dramatic of all were results from a school district in Fayette County, Kentucky. In the 1990's, after a change in start time from 7:30 AM to 8:30 AM a decrease was found in car accident rates for 16 - 18 year olds in the Fayette County school district , while rates actually increased in the rest of the state for 17 - 18 year olds. Given the danger posed to young people from car accidents this is a strong reason in itself to change school start times. A great source for information on students and sleep can be found at the National Sleep Foundation(link is external) web site.”

Do Later School Start Times Really Help High School Students?
Evidence supports later school starts for high school students.

Psychology Today
Post published by John Cline Ph.D. on Feb 27, 2011 in Sleepless in America
Web Link


“None of the studies show that delaying school start times encourages students to go to bed even later…”

“School Should Start Later So Teens Can Sleep, Urge Doctors”, Time Magazine, August 25, 2014 Web Link




12 people like this
Posted by False Remedy
a resident of Green Acres
on Apr 10, 2015 at 5:02 pm

I do not agree with the decision to reduce student choice, particularly since Zero Period is opt-in. Despite all the medical research, there is no guarantee that students will get more sleep as a result.

If this fix was so evident, why did it take this long for our brilliant community to figure it out? This proposal is but an attempt to show some action by addressing a symptom without looking deeper for a cure.


9 people like this
Posted by Mark Gould
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Apr 10, 2015 at 5:06 pm

@parent

Maybe some of them are future surgeons. Doesn't mean I think they should be performing surgery on each other. It's fine if you want to treat medical knowledge as irrelevant. I just don't want a school system run on Christian Science principles (though I know a school board member who might disagree).


2 people like this
Posted by parent of a teen
a resident of Greendell/Walnut Grove
on Apr 10, 2015 at 5:13 pm


Interesting that you pointed to the Kyla Wahlstrom study, because that study of eight high schools, FOUR of those high schools moved from an early start time to a later start time with an OPTIONAL ZERO PERIOD class (page 17). Why is that? Because it is a reasonable response.

Web Link

And that study never said THREEFOLD but it did say an increase risk in negative impacts of sleep deprivation which INCLUDED getting to class late because you fell back to sleep after your alarm went off or that you fell asleep during class. I don't know about you but lumping an increase risk of 'getting to class late' in with an increase risk of 'suicide' seems unscientific to me. UNLESS your goal is to exaggerate the impact on sleep deprivation.

And the positive results from moving the start time INCLUDES the kids taking zero period.

I hope the AAP used more than just this study.


6 people like this
Posted by Mark Gould
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Apr 10, 2015 at 5:19 pm

"Despite all the medical research, there is no guarantee that students will get more sleep as a result."

What does this even mean? Wouldn't it be easier just to say, "I don't care about science and can't be bothered to read it"?


8 people like this
Posted by Go Max!
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Apr 10, 2015 at 5:21 pm

My point in the above posts is that the evidence is overwhelming in linking sleep with suicide including when there is not mental illness. In the middle of the worst health crisis we have ever seen among our youth I applaud Dr. McGee, Mr. Dauber and the medical community for advocating for this policy to safeguard our youth.

There are many solutions for students who are currently arguing for zero period. If a prep period is a high value a student can already take a prep period without taking zero period. Students are only required to take 215 units to graduate. Six periods for four years is 240 units. Students can do independent studies including online courses. As for athletics clearly we have room for improvement.


8 people like this
Posted by Palo Verde Parent
a resident of Palo Verde
on Apr 10, 2015 at 5:27 pm

@Go Max

"perhaps most dramatic of all were results from a school district in Fayette County, Kentucky. In the 1990's, after a change in start time from 7:30 AM to 8:30 AM " Interesting that high schools in Fayette County all offer zero period and in some cases actually require it!

here is information from a handbook of a school in that county:
"Some students may enroll in classes such as Health/PE or Jazz Band during the zero hour (7:30 - 8:20) and earn additional credits each semester."

Also, students enrolled in their STEM program or their Liberal Arts Academy (for gifted students) are required to take zero period. According to their school handbook " The school day is longer with a zero hour class required during the freshman, junior, and senior years."

I don't see how eliminating zero period changes the stress level for our students or will impact the suicide issue. We have real issues that cause stress that are clearly not being addressed. Course alignment, poor delivery of curriculum, overly rigorous courses and grading practices, lack of use of schoology and violations of the HW policy are causing much more stress than an "optional zero period".


9 people like this
Posted by OPar
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Apr 10, 2015 at 5:39 pm

False Remedy,

Flawed logic on your part. If we're so smart, why do we have such an issue with teen suicide? See, the problem is already there--the status quo is *not* working.

You'll live without zero period--it's only been around three years. Other students have managed without it. You will too.

But as an adult, I want to do whatever I can to reduce the risk of another suicide and reduce the rates of depression and stress in the high school. Yes, I can see how you see this as an inconvenience, but that's one of those things you try to do as an adult--make choices that aren't easy to make. It's not a question of not hearing you or paying attention--it's a question of weighing the different sides.

Your personal convenience is not worth the increased risk of another suicide. Nothing anyone has said has convinced me that the increased risk is negligible--not when we're facing a second set of teen suicides in five years.

Listening, by the way, goes both ways--do you even get why those of us who oppose academic zero period are concerned? Think about it.


Like this comment
Posted by don't get it
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 10, 2015 at 5:41 pm

"Go Max,"

I am not questioning teens' need for sufficient sleep. I am just perplexed that the school district is the only target.

Take PAMF's Department of Pediatrics' pediatricians who wrote a letter telling Palo Alto high schools how to support students.

According to Mr. Fitzgerald, the executive director of Behavioral Health Services at El Camino Hospital whom the Weekly cited as an authority on this subject, we need more doctors and beds. This is PAMF's domain and expertise.

El Camino Hospital in Mountain View and Los Gatos is stepping up to help but what is the medical center that serves Palo Alto going to add? Ditto the City of Palo Alto, Santa Clara County and the Governor?


24 people like this
Posted by Another dad
a resident of Barron Park
on Apr 10, 2015 at 5:57 pm

They got rid of zero period to try to distract people from the real issue...massive, overly stressful workload.

In fact as student's have been saying, getting rid of zero period will actually increase their stress because they won't have the morning to try to catch up with the overload.

They need to reduce the homework load. But they will never do that because it will reduce test scores. [Portion removed.]


3 people like this
Posted by Anonymous
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 10, 2015 at 6:31 pm

It's about time for this decision.


21 people like this
Posted by Disappointed Statistics Student
a resident of Gunn High School
on Apr 10, 2015 at 6:46 pm

Jerry Underdal,

Of course there is some amount of response bias in accordance to this survey but it is both difficult and time consuming to take a census of the entire student body population-- a survey that many students may not even take seriously. This survey was posted on all of our class pages, so quite a few students were able to access it and had the ability to respond and voice their opinions *anonymously*.
If you want to bring statistics into it....
I took the liberty of doing a 1 proportion confidence interval. In case you are unaware, a confidence interval estimates the true proportion of a population parameter.

Conditions for Test:
SRS-Assume
Normal N ≥ 30 students (N sample size)
Independent N ≥ 300 students who took the survey

Test Name:
1-Proportion Z-Interval
Calculator synax
--> (ON a TI-83, 84 or TI-nspire Stat--> Tests--> A)

[.86943, .93057]

Therefore, I am 95% that the true proportion of students attending Gunn High School who are in favor of zero period, lies within the interval .86943 and .93057. (86%-93%) This gives an accurate representation of the population of students who are in favor of zero period at Gunn high.


8 people like this
Posted by Thanks Ken Dauber
a resident of Midtown
on Apr 10, 2015 at 7:11 pm

Yes, I can finally say it out loud, things are better because Skelly is gone and Dauber is in. I knew he will make a difference. Arriba Mr. Dauber. More than 6 years to finally start seeing steps to progress on behalf of our Palo Alto School District Students.


7 people like this
Posted by Equestrian Pro
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 10, 2015 at 7:17 pm

[Post removed.]


6 people like this
Posted by CW
a resident of Crescent Park
on Apr 10, 2015 at 7:49 pm

If the purpose of eliminating zero period is to curtail suicides, then we should know how many of the suicide victims were in zero period classes. Why isn't anybody asking this question?


8 people like this
Posted by Thank you Max!
a resident of Green Acres
on Apr 10, 2015 at 8:04 pm

Thank you Max. Way to go! Your strong leadership is impressive.
Gunn parent


6 people like this
Posted by Max fan
a resident of South of Midtown
on Apr 10, 2015 at 8:11 pm

A very good decision. Well done.


22 people like this
Posted by 25 year high school teacher
a resident of Community Center
on Apr 10, 2015 at 8:15 pm

I still enjoy teaching my zero period class [portion removed.] They are also doing better grade-wise than my other sections. Look to the South Bay successful high schools to see how it's done.


7 people like this
Posted by Double Standard
a resident of Gunn High School
on Apr 10, 2015 at 8:17 pm

[Post removed due to same poster using multiple names]


9 people like this
Posted by Daisy Buchanan
a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Apr 10, 2015 at 8:20 pm

[Post removed due to same poster using multiple names]


9 people like this
Posted by Biff Loman
a resident of Barron Park
on Apr 10, 2015 at 8:23 pm

[Post removed due to same poster using multiple names]


31 people like this
Posted by GreenmeadowDad
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Apr 10, 2015 at 8:41 pm

GreenmeadowDad is a registered user.

AAP CITED AUTHOR - NO DATA ON EFFECTS OF OPTIONAL EARLIER START TIME

All of the papers cited in the AAP directive seemed to use the earliest mandatory bell, and did not have data on a voluntary earlier option. To confirm this, Dr. Mary Carskadon (Professor at Brown University, part of the AAP Sleep Working Group, and the author most frequently cited in the AAP paper) was contacted a couple of weeks ago by email. She was asked if there was any data that would take into account self-selection bias of a voluntary program of an optional earlier start time, which might indicate any harmful effects for this voluntary group. She responded that she "does not know of any data". She found the topic interesting enough to suggest that we here in the community conduct our own study, and linked us to some of the survey questions she had used.

The 4 Stanford sleep researchers who signed petition petition were also contacted, and they knew of no data either.

In the AAP and its cited papers for start time, the only random variable was the earliest mandatory bell. There were no papers where the type of class (PE, econ, math, whatever) was used as a random variable. So, how this is not OK for an academic class, but OK for PE and sports practice to have 0 period is not consistent with the AAP or the research papers used as its basis.

These emails have been provided to the board and McGee.


Obviously, the lack of data on the matter at hand has not deterred the decision makers from eliminating flexibility for the students. That's too bad for my daughter, who uses zero period so she can pursue non-academic passions with her time after school. I'm sure that each of the students that have chosen 0 period, have also done so for very personal reasons that are important to them ...


13 people like this
Posted by Reality check
a resident of Barron Park
on Apr 10, 2015 at 8:52 pm

Re Prof. Carskadon and "GreenmeadowDad", here is a letter from Prof. Rafael Pelayo, a noted sleep researcher at Stanford. The letter is in a Public Records Act disclosure from PAUSD, published on the district's web site. Prof. Pelayo is evidently commenting on the contact with Prof. Carskadon reported by "Greenmeadow Dad":

Dr. Bill Dement and I spoke to Dr. Mary Carskadon yesterday afternoon. Mary is a pioneer in adolescent sleep health. She began her career at Stanford with Dr. Dement. Just a few years ago, I personally led the effort to have a plaque installed on campus honoring her contribution to sleep research here. When we spoke she was very concerned that her earlier email to a parent might be misinterpreted as opposing the change in school start times. She
said her position is clearly in support of the changing the school start times. This is expressed in the letter she wrote to the school board. She said what she tried to convey to the parent that sent her an email was that there was no published literature on a system where children “volunteered” for an earlier start. In the email she was answering, the parent who wrote said that the children with earlier start times “sleep more than their friends with later
start times, stating that they are more disciplined about going to bed on time.” Mary is skeptical that is true and as a scientist was trying to politely say a research project should be done confirm that statement. She said parents and teenagers may claim to be sleeping more with an earlier start time but that is not supported by any data. Indeed it is probably the opposite given what is known about circadian rhythms. All the published data supports better health with a later school start time.

Allowing a voluntary system for an earlier start time creates the problem you are trying to solve. There is no reliable and pragmatic way to do health screening for students who sign up for zero period classes. The school has no mechanism for enforcing better sleep habits at home in these teenagers that have “volunteered” to wake up early. Also what may occur is that a particular class or teacher is only available during zero period in a way that fits into a student's schedule, so the student would be forced to volunteer for an early start if they want to partake of that class or teacher. Certainly making adjustments to school schedules will be initially an inconvenience for some families. However, the greater impact on public health of making sleep a priority is undeniable. Letting these teenagers have a later start will be a daily reminder of your community’s commitment to their well-being.


8 people like this
Posted by Skeptic
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Apr 10, 2015 at 9:06 pm

Your calculations only apply to a random sample drawn from a population. Your sample wasn't random. What you have is a nonrandom sample of with a response rate of less than 20%. Sample statistics are not relevant and you cannot generate population parameters from such a sample.

Maybe if you took stats at a later time of day your teacher would be more alert to these elementary principles.


3 people like this
Posted by Skeptic
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Apr 10, 2015 at 9:07 pm

I forgot to say, that was directed to "Disappointed Statistics Student."


25 people like this
Posted by GreenmeadowDad
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Apr 10, 2015 at 9:11 pm

GreenmeadowDad is a registered user.

Reality Check:

Let me correct the comment made by Dr Pelayo, saying "All the published data supports better health with a later school start time."

No.

All the published data supports that the average student gets more sleep with a later first mandatory bell, which Gunn and Paly implemented years ago. By Dr Pelayo's own admission, there is no data on a voluntary earlier option.


Since I guess we're cutting/pasting emails, here is the complete correspondence with Dr Carskadon:
_________________________________________________

From: "Carskadon, Mary" <mary_carskadon@brown.edu>
To: Robert Rozak <rerozak@yahoo.com>
Sent: Friday, March 20, 2015 8:02 AM
Subject: Re: optional early high school start time at Palo Alto, CA school

Hello:

Thank you for your inquiry. It's great to hear that the start time is 8:25; but a challenge to hear of the earlier option.

I don't know of any data looking into this issue. I recall that Walla Walla, WA had a similar program a number of years ago, but I'm not sure how that is working out.

My suggestion is to collect data if possible, not just asking students if they sleep more or less than their friends, but exploring the sleep patterns of students who are on both sides of the divide. I'm not sure one can rely on the students' own generalizations. You can find examples of questions on my lab's web page: Web Link.

Good luck as you begin to explore this.


--
Mary A. Carskadon, PhD
Professor, Psychiatry & Human Behavior
The Alpert Medical School of Brown University
Director, Chronobiology & Sleep Research
EP Bradley Hospital

Sleep for Science Research Lab of Brown University
300 Duncan Drive
Providence, RI 02906
USA
Tel. 401-421-9440
Fax 401-453-3578
www.sleepforscience.org
@sleepyteens

_________________________________________________


On Thu, Mar 19, 2015 at 11:32 PM, Robert Rozak <rerozak@yahoo.com> wrote:
Dear Dr. Clarkadon,

I am hoping you can contribute your expert opinion to a heated debate that we're having at Gunn High School in Palo Alto, CA. Our current school start time is 8:25 but each year approximately 300 students out of ~ 2000 opt to start school at 7:20. A vocal group is advocating that we end this program, a many are referencing the AAP policy statement (which you are referenced in) even though it doesn't address the question of voluntary earlier start times.

The students who take advantage of this program are strongly in favor of it, and state that having the option to start and end school earlier decreases the stress in their lives. Many students in the program claim that they sleep more than their friends with later start times, stating that they are more disciplined about going to bed on time. I'm guessing that children who don't have a problem falling asleep by 10 are self-selecting into the optional early start time class, but this of course can't be verified.

I haven't found any data about voluntary earlier start times, but was hoping you could inform us as to whether this question has been studied, and if so, what did the studies show?

Thank you very much for your help with our decision.

____________________________________________



So, there is no data. The decision makers will make their decisions. But, just so everybody is clear, the decision comes with no data ...










5 people like this
Posted by Reality check
a resident of Barron Park
on Apr 10, 2015 at 9:18 pm

GreenmeadowDad says, "Let me correct the comment made by Dr Pelayo" about the state of sleep research.

Let me express my appreciation of the incongruity of "GreenmeadowDad" correcting one of the most prominent sleep researchers in the world: Web Link


13 people like this
Posted by Gunn Parent
a resident of Midtown
on Apr 10, 2015 at 9:18 pm

I support the change and appreciate the direction to reduce stress - even if there is a loud crowd asking for the early class.


4 people like this
Posted by Go Max!
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Apr 10, 2015 at 9:24 pm

@ Palo Verde Parent

The American Academy of Pediatrics reviewed over 139 documents including numerous peer reviewed research and papers that are summarized and cited in their Technical Report:
"Insufficient Sleep in Adolescents and Young Adults: An Update on Causes and Consequences" See Web Link for a complete list of the research.

The New York Times article cited above was quoting from the AAP technical report and not the study you cited in regards to the threefold increase in suicide. The AAP stated:

"A number of recent studies have focused on the possible relationship between sleep and suicidal ideation. Sleeping less than 8 hours at night seems to be associated with an almost threefold increased risk of suicide attempts after controlling for a number of confounding variables."



17 people like this
Posted by Palo Verde Parent
a resident of Palo Verde
on Apr 10, 2015 at 9:57 pm

@Go Max
"A number of recent studies have focused on the possible relationship between sleep and suicidal ideation. Sleeping less than 8 hours at night seems to be associated with an almost threefold increased risk of suicide attempts after controlling for a number of confounding variables."

If this was the basis for canceling zero period academic classes, then why allow PE, non academic classes and sports practices to be held before school. This quote doesn't differentiate between what happens during that zero period time slot just that lack of sleep is associated with an increased risk of suicide. Seems inconsistent to me.

This is why it appears to me that this is an attempt to appease a segment of the population that view the zero period as a way to give "students an advantage", not as a way to look at all kids, because if the opponents to zero period were really concerned about all students then they would not be applauding the decision but instead recognizing the inconsistencies of the policy.


12 people like this
Posted by Parent
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Apr 10, 2015 at 10:05 pm

Curious, did they factor in the difference between a 5 minute commute to Gunn for a 7am class, versus a 35 minute commute to Gunn for the 8:25 bell?

Pretty much wipes out the benefit of any perceived extra sleep,


32 people like this
Posted by Gunn Student
a resident of Gunn High School
on Apr 10, 2015 at 10:11 pm

Since all my previous posts have been deleted... The fact of the matter is that the school board and more specifically the superintendent is acting without the ideals or thoughts of the students at hand. I was in the panel of students at the teen youth forum and was promised that the community would act on behalf of the students toward actions that would ultimately benefit the students. This is not the case. I feel let down and hurt that the community is acting so ridiculously without proper reason or input in this decision. Decisions like these make me want to leave Gunn when it is just my final year. You all have really let me down and I hope the superintendent reads this. I do not feel listened to as a student. In fact, I feel silenced.


21 people like this
Posted by Gunn Student
a resident of Gunn High School
on Apr 10, 2015 at 10:18 pm

And I loved tbt to wasc where they said that students at Gunn need to be listened to more. Cough Cough, that is not happening... I will be at the town hall meetings on April 20th and 21st to argue against block schedules and not having zero periods because this is ridiculous. No one wants this and it will not help. Anyone who agrees with me should attend these meetings and together, united as one, the school board and the parents can not silence our voices and will be forced to listen to the majority.


4 people like this
Posted by New Paly Parent
a resident of Midtown
on Apr 10, 2015 at 10:31 pm

I'm curious why Gunn started offering zero-period academics, while Paly only has PE. Did Paly parents and students not want academics in zero-period, or was it a decision of the school administration?


7 people like this
Posted by A
a resident of Gunn High School
on Apr 10, 2015 at 11:22 pm

Alright, students have received an email with the letter from the super.

Here it is:

As you are undoubtedly well aware, there has recently been considerable and even contentious discussion regarding zero period. During the last couple of weeks, I have read numerous emails from students, parents, pediatricians and faculty; reviewed surveys of students conducted by students and faculty; and listened to compelling arguments on the pros and cons of the issue from students, pediatricians, parents, teachers, and community members. I think it is time to make a decision and take action rather than drag this conversation out at the Board and Committee level over the next several weeks.

As a morning person myself, I clearly understand that having the option to take an academic class during zero period can be both stress reducing and academically beneficial. For a certain percentage of adolescents—let’s say about one standard deviation from the normal bell curve distribution (~16%)—who are either morning people or go to bed early enough to get at least 8.5 hours of sleep, zero period probably does have some benefits. For most
others, however, I think that based on the preponderance of pediatricians’ recommendations and related research about how important sleep is to teenagers as well as about their general sleep patterns, it is wise not to start the academic day much before 8:30 a.m.

As a compromise solution that is in the best interest of the majority of our students, then, I have told the high school principals that for the 2015-16 academic year and beyond, we are to limit zero period classes to physical education or a non-graded class. I have also asked Dr. Hermann to set up a brown bag lunch or two with students and staff to meet with me and a couple of pediatricians so we can address their questions and concerns.

On another but related note, the Gunn High School Creative Bell Schedule Committee is developing four options for the new school schedule, all of which I believe will reduce student stress and provide staff and students with some opportunities for enhancing teaching and learning. These models will be presented in a Town Hall meeting on Monday evening, April 20th at Gunn. The Committee is also crafting a survey about them for each stakeholder group, and Dr. Herrmann has noted that the schedule options will be discussed at the April staff meeting. It is my understanding that while the models are not yet finalized, we don’t think that any of them will be starting school before the current time of 8:25, though one may start earlier two days a week and much later three days a week. The Committee is working hard and we are eager to hear their ideas and your opinions of them. Dr. Herrmann will provide additional details regarding the meetings and surveys next week.

Thank you for your understanding. Now that the decision is made, I hope we can move forward and have a strong finish to our year by focusing on what we do best: developing students’ knowledge, critical thinking and problem-solving skills and nurturing their curiosity, creativity and resilience, thus empowering every child to reach his or her fullest intellectual, social, and creative potential.


19 people like this
Posted by Book Burning Next?
a resident of Downtown North
on Apr 10, 2015 at 11:41 pm

Now that we have overruled 90% of the students who like zero period, perhaps we should burn any books that we also think might be harmful for them to read. The choice of literature in some English classes is so depressing and heartbreaking that it might be the cause of student suicides - as in why bother to live if live is so miserable?

On the question of zero period. One of my children used zero period a lot when in school. It freed up time for science research project in the afternoon, as he proactively arranged his schedule so that he had a couple of afternoons off each week for research. He also took a math class one year zero period. For the record he took just about every AP offered at Paly and most honors classes offered. He was stilled bored a lot and homework was quick to non-existent most days. He was only somewhat busy when a paper was due. All of his school career was dull and boring (elementary and middle school) and only high school was tolerable.

The school board/superintendent are so obsessed with doing something that they are losing sight of the reality that they need to educate all of the students in the district. Really talented students are ignored and their needs are not addressed. Many students like to be able to arrange their schedules the way they want and need to and zero period offers them more options.

These days, my advice to anyone who asks about the Palo Alto Schools is - if you can afford it send your kids to private school where they will allow them to work to their potential. If your kid is super smart Palo Alto schools will at best ignore them and at worst bore them and hold them back until they lose interest.


12 people like this
Posted by A
a resident of Gunn High School
on Apr 10, 2015 at 11:47 pm

It appears that Mr. McGee seeks a sort of middle ground, to appease as many people as possible. Lowerclassmen may continue to take PE zero period, so select athletes will continue to benefit. "Non-graded class[es]" will still be offered zero period, although I have no knowledge of their existence.

I'm rather curious: was this decision made with our health and well-being in mind, or our academic performance? Regardless of whether or not classes are academic, zero period students get up about an hour earlier than other students. That is a fact. The biggest argument for the removal of zero period was to reduce stress and allow students to receive enough sleep. And yet, all this resolution does is prevent some students from taking zero period.

Now, zero period students don't have to be alert in the morning! Success! We've accomplished everything we've set out to do! Now we don't need to worry about students performing poorly in a class because it's too early.

Just because you don't need to think in the morning doesn't mean you won't be getting up an hour earlier, getting farther away from that magic number, the coveted 8.5.




16 people like this
Posted by Patricia Chang
a resident of Gunn High School
on Apr 10, 2015 at 11:58 pm

I am curious why they are eliminating academic classes and not athletics? Presumably early athletics also cuts into sleep. Kids don't choose to wake up at 5:30 so they can row in Redwood City and be back before school starts. Nor, if given a choice would they ask for early morning swim practices, water polo, or other sports that practice in the am. Ken dauber and his group has actively targeted academic classes, not early morning activities. Why? The medical community wants later start times, why is this being applied selectively? I'd appreciate any answers to be signed by people using their real names. I'm tired tired of discussions by people who are afraid of publicly standing behind their opinions. We can't have a civil discussion on any issue unless people are willing to take ownership of their beliefs.


5 people like this
Posted by to patricia
a resident of Crescent Park
on Apr 11, 2015 at 12:48 am

My understanding is that athletes typically take 0, 1st or 7th period PE. Once the sports season starts, they get a "prep" during this time. So essentially they end up having no class during 0, 1st or 7th period. At least with my son's sport (lacrosse) the early morning practices in the off-season are optional.


9 people like this
Posted by There Should Be Zero "Zero" Period
a resident of Palo Verde
on Apr 11, 2015 at 1:11 am

What no one is really acknowledging here is that by demanding an unhealthy environment (early classes), super-achievers/super-competitors/tiger parents are forcing other students (due to peer or parent pressure to compete) to enroll in these early classes even though it is detrimental to their health. What about the 10% of zero-period students in whats-her-name's survey that did NOT support having a zero period? Are we, as a community, deciding it's OK if that 10% commits suicide so the other 90% can enjoy more "choices?" How many of the 90% didn't believe their responses were truly anonymous, and answered the way they though they "should?"

Can all of you who want to spit on the medical PROOF, and claim to be DIFFERENT than the vast majority of teens, please stop for one moment and think about the pressure your (minority) demands place on everyone else? Do you care at all about your peers and community, or is it just about your own, personal WANTS?

All of the research says school should not start before 8:30am because teens do not get enough sleep. Why in the world are we allowing *ANY* classes/programs to start earlier than 8:30am???

Life is about choices. As stated in earlier posts by others, students need only 215 credits to graduate, but can earn 240 with only six classes for four years. So, students, please start making some choices, prioritize what is most important to you (AP classes, athletics, music) and if you aren't challenged enough then please look at outside resources to further fill out your college app.

Sadly, I believe this "compromise" was reached in order to manipulate voters to vote the way PAUSD wants them to on Measure A. Property tax revenue is at an all time high, and yet PAUSD not only wants to renew the "temporary" Measure A funding, but increase it!

I have not posted to any of the threads on this topic so far, but I am still voting NO on Measure A.


9 people like this
Posted by Mom of 3
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Apr 11, 2015 at 1:59 am

@Patricia: Rowing occurs so early because that's when the water is less choppy.

@to patricia: The P.E. prep period is only during the athlete's sport. For an athlete to have a year-round prep period, he has to be play a sport all year. So there are athletes attending zero prep if they don't play a sport every season.

@The New Skelly: Please do not associate McGee's name with Skelly. Skelly didn't give a hoot but McGee is making positive changes.

THANK YOU, Dauber and McGee for making the right decision for the majority of our children. Of course, 90% of the students enrolled in zero period support it!


2 people like this
Posted by parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 11, 2015 at 2:32 am

"Gunn High School Creative Bell Schedule Committee"

Who is this committee and how do we provide input?


3 people like this
Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on Apr 11, 2015 at 4:09 am

Those students who've chosen to take zero period are probably already familiar with the old proverb: "The nail that sticks out will be hammered down."


12 people like this
Posted by PA CA Mom
a resident of Barron Park
on Apr 11, 2015 at 5:32 am

PA CA Mom is a registered user.

@ Gunn Student: there is a lot of first person singular in your post. This is about things that are larger than how just you feel.

@ Patricia Change: I understand your concerns about anonymity but many of us are talking about our children, not just here in this thread, but in other ongoing discussions about some special needs and overall issues regarding mental health. I have no problem putting my name out there in general but will not do so at the expense of my children and their privacy.

@ Zero "Zero": I absolutely agree with your statement that zero period places pressure on everyone else. Even when my son was in middle school, he participated in a school-sponsored club that started meeting "optionally" in the mornings as well, and he was ostracized for not doing his part by showing up at 7:30. What was supposed to have been a big needed positive in his life became yet another negative.

7:30 puts too much pressure on kids and deprives them of needed sleep.


7 people like this
Posted by Mom
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Apr 11, 2015 at 6:12 am

If data show that students can not have school before 8:30, why only athletes or non graded classes can have zero period even during some of the year? Let me see the data which show that occasional early start is OK.

The school newsletter recently mentioned that students who have work have a priority to get a zero period. What kind of work? Are students who take care of younger siblings or stay with sick grandparents after school in order to help their parents less worthy? Is a internship a job? Is a paid webmaster who maintains Dad's side business an occupation?

I see a lot of exceptions already. Are the type of students whom Mr. Jacoubowsky like selected? We need transparency.

[Portion removed.]

Are there any supporting data?

We should not have any exception.


6 people like this
Posted by Mom
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Apr 11, 2015 at 7:05 am

I recall one of the PAUSD students who committed suicide in the past was an water polo player although he quit it before the tragedy during all these years of schools starting before 8:30. So you may not call him an athlete. This is just information from Palo Alto Online.
Doesn't this local information count more than other data from the schools where most students and families probably already didn't want an early start in their social contexts?

We should not have any exception.
Or we should have OPTIONS for all subjects and students.


21 people like this
Posted by chini
a resident of Midtown
on Apr 11, 2015 at 8:01 am

chini is a registered user.

The appears to be a sad case of a decision made under severe pressure and stress, a condition that the School Board asserts would lead to wrong
decisions. It also appears that nobody made the efforts to actually read the
report or call the schools surveyed in the report. I did. I also called the Jackson Hole High School about whether they have the Zero period, and they confirmed that they do offer zero period although that starts at 8AM.
When asked about their school start time changed from 7:35am to 8:55am, they
said that the change had a positive impact on the students - they were more
alert and their academic performance improved. They also explained that
the 8:55AM start time was chosen to allow sufficient transportation time,
which was about 45 minutes for certain kids. Their opinion was that changing school start time from 8:15AM to 8:30AM just to follow the letter of the
American Academy of Pediatrics report would not make a difference unless
supported by data from local study on various patterns.

What concerns me most about these decisions is the pattern of ignoring
the voices of the children and the interests of the parents to satisfy
a few loud, but organized, group who might not even have a current stake
in the system. After ignoring their voices the School District will now
be giving surveys to the students and parents to complete. How can we
expect the surveys to be completed accurately when the School Board has
clearly demonstrated that they would rather use data acquired from
studies elsewhere and impose policies from name-brand organizations?

The issue of insufficient sleep is an important one. It is an
important one for the adults in the community to understand and
provide the necessary support. It is not something that can be addressed
by tinkering with alarm clocks or start times, but requires establishing
connections such that there is open communications between students, teachers, and parents on the changing needs of the children. Instead,
the issue has been politicized with members of the Board lobbying
organizations to issue endorsements, ignoring the student community who
made it clear that the zero period is an optional course.

Finally, here's a passage from the actual report that was published from
the study:
"After some schools moved to a later start time, a “zero hour” class was
initiated. Zero hour classes begin in the hour before the regular school
bell schedule begins. Often they are classes with limited enrollment, such
as honors classes, or a fifth year of a world language, or physical fitness
classes. Most credits earned during zero hour classes count towards
graduation. Occasionally students who participate in sports after school,
and who may miss their last hour of class due to travel time for a sports
game, will take zero hour classes in order to stay on track for earning
credits for graduation."

I don't know whether this decision is good or bad as the Board has not
provided any relevant data, i.e. locally relevant data, in support of it.
We need the Board to be transparent about their decision-making process,
disclose the lobbying efforts behind the scenes to get endorsements to
put pressure and discourage students and parents from speaking against it.
In short, this looks more like a solution in search of a problem.


20 people like this
Posted by GreenmeadowDad
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Apr 11, 2015 at 8:18 am

GreenmeadowDad is a registered user.

Chini,

Thank you for your effort on this.

I also read the report, took action, and contacted the researcher who is part of the AAP Sleep Working Group and the author most frequently cited in the AAP paper, to find out if there were any studies that included self-selection bias for a voluntary earlier start time (since it didn't appear that any of the papers cited addressed this). She confirmed that there was no data that she was aware of. For more, please see the post above:
- AAP CITED AUTHOR - NO DATA ON EFFECTS OF OPTIONAL EARLIER START TIME

These emails were provided to the board and superintendent. So, to answer your question, the board/superintendent were informed that there is no relevant data.


What I think is unfortunate, is that the disenfranchised students suffer because of a politically expedient compromise that doesn't address their issues. The students are crying out for an ease in workload and fairness between similar classes taught by different teachers. These are the things they are telling us will reduce their stress.

Concerns that 0 period is being exploited to take more classes to make the environment more academically competitive are valid. But, they can be address directly, for instance, by enforcing the existing policy for maximum number of classes.

Although this compromise may be politically expedient, it has no basis in data or logic. None of the reports addressed if there were less harmful effects by being sleep deprived for 0 period PE or sports practice.

My daughter uses zero period so she can pursue non-academic passions with her time after school. It sounds like you also know of students that have chosen 0 period, and have done so for very personal reasons that are important to them as well ... it's the disenfranchised students, who's voice is being ignored, loss ...


16 people like this
Posted by Mom of high schoolers
a resident of Los Altos
on Apr 11, 2015 at 8:19 am

Two of my teenagers are "larks" who naturally wake up early and can't keep their eyes open past 10pm. My middle teen finds it difficult to fall asleep before 1 or 2am and likes to sleep until noon. Starting school later won't help my night owl because 8:30am is still in the middle of his natural sleep cycle. But late start times do hurt my larks because they have less time in the afternoon/evening in which to do their homework. Can they do it in the morning? No. They are really good students and won't go to bed until their homework is done: if they save it until morning, they might not have enough time to finish; furthermore, studies show that memory works best when you study and then sleep. Also, traffic patterns are worse an hour later so much of the extra "sleep" time is lost because they have to allow more time for traffic.


8 people like this
Posted by Science please
a resident of Downtown North
on Apr 11, 2015 at 8:42 am

GreenmeadowDad [portion removed] seems intent on misstating the views of Professor Carskadon. Reposting from above, from letter sent to school board by Stanford Professor Pelayo,

Dr. Bill Dement and I spoke to Dr. Mary Carskadon yesterday afternoon. Mary is a pioneer in adolescent sleep health. She began her career at Stanford with Dr. Dement. Just a few years ago, I personally led the effort to have a plaque installed on campus honoring her contribution to sleep research here. When we spoke she was very concerned that her earlier email to a parent might be misinterpreted as opposing the change in school start times. She
said her position is clearly in support of the changing the school start times. This is expressed in the letter she wrote to the school board. She said what she tried to convey to the parent that sent her an email was that there was no published literature on a system where children "volunteered" for an earlier start. In the email she was answering, the parent who wrote said that the children with earlier start times "sleep more than their friends with later
start times, stating that they are more disciplined about going to bed on time." Mary is skeptical that is true and as a scientist was trying to politely say a research project should be done confirm that statement. She said parents and teenagers may claim to be sleeping more with an earlier start time but that is not supported by any data. Indeed it is probably the opposite given what is known about circadian rhythms. All the published data supports better health with a later school start time.


12 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 11, 2015 at 8:55 am

If zero period offers such rich choices, then why are you just advocating for this particular choice.

If we really wanted choices, wouldn't we be offering optional 8th and 9th period classes so that those night owls had options too?

This is not a red herring argument, but it would definitely help (a) the students who struggle to get out of bed in the morning regardless of what time they went to bed and (b) would really help alleviate traffic in the morning commute hours.

For all those teachers who like early starts, it would also help teachers who would prefer to be able to drop young children off to school, etc. etc.

I have spent the last x number of years dragging sleepy kids out of beds (often in the dark) and sending them off to school. I would imagine that for all the good reasons in the world, an optional 8th period would help my kids too.


6 people like this
Posted by GreenmeadowDad
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Apr 11, 2015 at 9:03 am

GreenmeadowDad is a registered user.

to Resident:

[If we really wanted choices, wouldn't we be offering optional 8th and 9th period classes so that those night owls had options too?]
- I have no issue with choices.

[If zero period offers such rich choices, then why are you just advocating for this particular choice.]
- So my 'lark' daughter can shift her schedule early, leave school early, and participate in a sport (which is not offered at Gunn).


Thank you for asking ...


4 people like this
Posted by Mom
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Apr 11, 2015 at 9:05 am

In my country, commentators like us can edit their posts after submission using their password with their post. Maybe some websites in the US carry that function,too. Can Palo Alto Online use it in the near future?
I would like to rewrite my phrase deleted by Palo Alto Online in more acceptable manner, so that my whole post makes sense. Moreover, I would like to correct my grammar mistakes and typos which I often find after submission no matter how careful I am.


22 people like this
Posted by Palo alto
a resident of Downtown North
on Apr 11, 2015 at 9:05 am

The later start time is for the greater good. Do we remember what that is? Giving specific examples of kids that like to get up early creeps me out. Parents and kids please remember that this new rule might not be about
You or your child, but will benefit the greater good, with
Hope.


16 people like this
Posted by GreenmeadowDad
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Apr 11, 2015 at 9:36 am

GreenmeadowDad is a registered user.

Science Please:

"All the published data supports better health with a later school start time."

No. I challenge you to show me this data.

All the published data supports that the average student gets more sleep with a later first mandatory bell, which Gunn and Paly implemented years ago. There is no data to include self-selection bias of a voluntary earlier start time.

Dr Pelayo's, who you are quoting, also acknowledges this.

I'm not going to sit back and watch people represent conclusions that they are drawing as being based on data, when in fact it is opinion. Conclusions can only be drawn from data. Opinion is opinion, and should be clearly represented as such. Attempts to obfuscate opinion as conclusions based on data when providing guidance to the public for policy is bordering on highly questionable moral turpitude.

So, until somebody coughs up the data that includes self-selection bias of a voluntary earlier start time, I will keep beating back those people who are misrepresenting the data by saying that these papers are relevant to our situation, and drawing conclusions based on them.

Dr Carksadon even showed us the path on how to collect our own data. The AAP papers on school start time are no more complicated than wellness surveys.

But, I guess we've chosen the path of political expediency based on opinion at the expense of the disenfranchised, instead of a data driven decision.


19 people like this
Posted by Fred
a resident of Barron Park
on Apr 11, 2015 at 9:58 am

@GreenmeadowDad - you are right of course, both in terms of the limits of what the studies tell us and in terms of the political nature of this decision. PAUSD wants to win the parcel tax vote, and this is the price. As with many things, the crowd will move on to other issues, and zero period will likely be back in a couple years, because it meets a need. So it goes in Palo Alto.


11 people like this
Posted by Science please
a resident of Downtown North
on Apr 11, 2015 at 9:59 am

@GreenmeadowDad

While I might buy an amp from Mr. Rozack I don't think he has any medical training, so I prefer the opinion of actual experts, including numerous PAMF physicians. I wonder if Mr. Rozack has a single doctor who will say publicly that academic classes in zero period is a safe and healthy option for our schools to offer?


5 people like this
Posted by Science please
a resident of Downtown North
on Apr 11, 2015 at 10:09 am

Just to correct [portion removed] on another point, he attributes the statement "All the published data supports better health with a later school start time" to me. That is actually Professor Pelayo's statement to the school board, quoted by me from the letter released by the district.


4 people like this
Posted by GreenmeadowDad
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Apr 11, 2015 at 10:43 am

GreenmeadowDad is a registered user.

Science Please:

[Portion removed.]

- That was understood. Dr Palayo was asked directly in a separate email if he knew of any data for our situation, and he offered none.


People should treat the data respectfully. So, the "Sleep-Industrial-Complex" researchers and laypeople on forums need to be called out if they are obfuscating opinion, as conclusions based on data.

I offer no expert opinion on the matter.


3 people like this
Posted by Science please
a resident of Downtown North
on Apr 11, 2015 at 10:55 am

[Portion removed.] "People should treat the data respectfully. So, the "Sleep-Industrial-Complex" researchers and laypeople on forums need to be called out if they are obfuscating opinion, as conclusions based on data.

I offer no expert opinion on the matter."

While Mr. [portion removed] can disparage medical science as the "Sleep-Industrial-Complex" and accuse experts of "turpitude" when he doesn't understand their conclusions, I am happy that we have more prudent and responsible school leadership. I'm not surprised that he can't muster even a single doctor in support, despite undoubtedly having one or two among his acquaintances.


11 people like this
Posted by GreenmeadowDad
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Apr 11, 2015 at 11:31 am

GreenmeadowDad is a registered user.

Science Please:

[I am happy that we have more prudent and responsible school leadership]
- That's great! I want prudent and responsible school leadership as well! I think this example of decision making is a little lacking, though ...

I want responsible guidane from researchers (who are paritally funded by our tax dollars, mind you) as well. When our public officials are given guidance by researchers (emails sent to board members, signed petitions) , I feel those researchers also have an obligation to clarify their guidance when asked by the public, including the data basis for any conclusions and being clear on what is opinion vs evidence based. It's great when they have data to support their conclusions. If/when they are providing opinion, I very graciously accept it.


Back to how I originally characterized this entire affair:

"I guess we've chosen the path of political expediency based on opinion at the expense of the disenfranchised students, instead of a data driven decision."

I think this pretty accurately sums up what happened here. We got a proposal from Ken Dauber (hey, wasn't he supposed to be the "data driven" guy???) that solves nothing (if you concur with the expert opinion, as it leaves 0 period PE and sports), which boxed the superintendent into a corner to make a decision [portion removed.] This proposal is way out in the weeds for what the students have been asking for to ease stress in school. They don't vote and they are not listened to. The super made a decision based on opinion ... fine. But, it was a decision to implement the Ken Dauber solve-nothing-compromise based on opinion (which is indeed not based on data).

I think this characterization of the events is pretty accurate ...


Like this comment
Posted by Voting Yes
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Apr 11, 2015 at 11:37 am

[Post removed; duplicate post.]


14 people like this
Posted by joe
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Apr 11, 2015 at 11:46 am

Was going to post a more substantive note here but there is just too much emotion infused ranting, as per often the case when it comes any issue related to education in this community.

The superintendent has likely made a politically wise move here to stop the zero period, a decision that I actually agree with having conducted clinical research in sleep medicine as a physician.

Due to the number of unfortunate incidents and the seemingly lack of effective actions over such an extended period of time, I am surprised that a class action lawsuit has not yet been filed. Maybe notifying big media, eg 20/20, 60 minutes, Dateline, and inviting them to review and report on the situation might prompt more external viewpoints and balanced open assessment here.


12 people like this
Posted by Palo Verde Parent
a resident of Palo Verde
on Apr 11, 2015 at 11:48 am

@GreenmeadowDad
"They don't vote and they are not listened to." Actually a number of Gunn seniors are 18 years old. This would be a good time for them to understand how politics work and vote NO on measure A in order to get their voice heard.

I still believe this move was just to appease a vocal segment of parents who have threatened to vote NO on measure A. Because this "policy" is so inconsistent (okay for sports, okay for PE, okay for non graded classes) it seems to me that it was not done because of a strong support of the quoted research. If this policy was in response to the research then there would be NO activities before the first bell. There is a group of parents that seem to think that having a zero period academic class gives a student "an advantage" and that is the reason they don't want the zero period. To me this is just an example of the "squeaky wheel" gets what it wants. And for the record, my children were never interested in taking a zero period class.

I also find the timing interesting. It certainly took the focus of the community off of the grievance and the unwillingness of some teachers to use schoology.


3 people like this
Posted by MSN
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 11, 2015 at 12:08 pm

Mission San Jose and Monta Vista High Schools have more tiger parents, more homework, more stress, and higher scores and SATs. But no suicides. The huge majority of parents in both schools are from Asia, and athletics are strongly discouraged by most in favor of academics.

Most students cannot do both sports and academics and get high grades. Colleges no longer prefer to see after school sports on an application. Nearly 100% of kids at MV and MSJ High Schools are accepted by the college of their choice, so they must bedoing something right.

As one MSJ parent told me a few years ago, they will have plenty of time for sports when they go to college and after. Which is true. Most colleges sanction time for collegiate sports and practice. Look at Stanford: styles do not attend classes before 12:30!


Like this comment
Posted by MSN
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 11, 2015 at 12:11 pm

Correction: styles should be ATHLETES


15 people like this
Posted by CW
a resident of Crescent Park
on Apr 11, 2015 at 12:14 pm

This morning's Daily Post listed the nearby schools that do and don't have zero period. Those that do include Mountain View, Los Altos, San Mateo, M-A, Woodside and Sequoia. None of them have had any student suicides.

And, again, we don't know whether any of the recent suicide victims took zero period classes. If none of them did have a zero period class, why are we eliminating it?


5 people like this
Posted by Mom
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Apr 11, 2015 at 12:36 pm

Can we fix the workload and homework issue first, then eliminate bad teachers while we keep the majority of average and excellent teachers? After we solve both issues and see the effect, and if still kids are dying, then we can let zero period go. However, by the time we fix the two problems before zero period, we won't recognized the issue.


12 people like this
Posted by Mom of 3
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Apr 11, 2015 at 12:37 pm

@MSN: You have no supporting data. MSJ indeed has suicides but they are not publicized. "Nearly 100% of kids at MV and MSJ High Schools are accepted by the college of their choice". REALLY? Nearly 1000 students are being accepted into Harvard from MV and MSJ? Where's your data?

@CW: Unsure that those schools have similar rigorous expectations as PAUSD teachers. I know students from San Mateo, Sequoia, and Mtn. View who have transferred to PAUSD and they claim PAUSD is much more difficult. Just look at the school demographics. As an example, second year Spanish students at Mtn. View High are allowed to speak English in the classroom while PAUSD does not allow English in any World Language class. So you might not be comparing apples to apples.




13 people like this
Posted by CW
a resident of Crescent Park
on Apr 11, 2015 at 1:02 pm

"Mom of 3" -- You missed the point or decided to change the subject. What the Post pointed out this morning is that other schools have early classes but don't have suicide clusters. Eliminating the choice of zero period won't reduce the suicides. It's just a superintendent caving to a noisy crowd.


5 people like this
Posted by Gunn Mom
a resident of South of Midtown
on Apr 11, 2015 at 1:51 pm

I am so very sorry about the hysterical tone of the discourse here. What are we, as adults, modeling for our students who are participating in this discussion? There is a civil way to have this discussion. Greenmeadow Dad has raised some good points, I think. Please read them thoughtfully. His argument is nuanced--and important. Listen to the kids. Let's study the issues more carefully and please stop taking shots at each other.

Though I plan to vote YES on Measure A (because we need to extend the expiring parcel tax and there are students need the additional mental health counselors and academic support), I do not support the Superintendent's recommendation to eliminate zero period for academic classes. I see no data to support this as a useful action to eliminate student stress. I think it may aggravate stress for some.

The students have pointed to what they perceive to be their primary causes of stress. I'd like us to work with the teachers (politely and collaboratively) on addressing these concerns.

In response to the comments above about anonymous posts, I won't be signing my name. This does not feel like a safe environment to share my opinion with my name attached. Many of the writers in the thread have made it so by making personal attacks on others who have shared opinions. I hope we'll all stop that and move toward collaborative, productive problem-solving instead of blaming and attacking.

As our kids say, "We are all in this together." (or, at least, we all should be for their sakes.)


16 people like this
Posted by OPar
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Apr 11, 2015 at 1:57 pm

I read recently that a child at MV high killed themself (not sure of gender) last year.

Suicides are *not* made public as a matter of course. So you actually don't know the suicide rates of these neighboring schools. We know about Palo Alto's because accidents/suicides are part of the public record when they occur on the train tracks.

Overdose, car crash, drowning--most of us aren't going to know.

Greenmeadow Dad--Oh give me a *break*--you're clearly ignoring anything that you don't want to hear--to the point of misprepresenting the views of a leading sleep researcher and the invention of some sort "sleep-industry-complex". If your little lark is such an exception, why not have her or him use that early-morning hour for homework?

CW: There's a privacy issue concerning kids at work here--but Dauber made it clear that the zero period couldn't be dismissed as an issue in at least one of the suicides. So, there's an easy conclusion to be drawn there.

Ah, well, it's interesting to see the Type A all-about-me-and-my-kid parents at work--the ugly side of Palo Alto's exceptionalism. It would be so wonderful if just one of you were capable of saying "Hey, we liked zero period for us, but given what's been happening, it's important to do what we can to create a healthier school environment, so we'll make it work."


7 people like this
Posted by GreenmeadowDad
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Apr 11, 2015 at 2:29 pm

GreenmeadowDad is a registered user.

@OPar

[you're clearly ignoring anything that you don't want to hear--to the point of misrepresenting the views of a leading sleep researcher]

- No. I'm calling for honesty with data. Clearly identify conclusions from data as evidence based, and opinion as opinion. From the leading sleep researcher herself, "I don't know of any data looking into this issue". So, the superintendent gave us a decision based on opinion. Great! I just want it to be called it what it is, and the decision is not data driven.


---

[it's important to do what we can to create a healthier school environment]

- Great! The kids are telling us what will give them a healthier school environment, and this decision ignores all of that. In fact, if this decision were truly based on the expert opinion, it wouldn't have 0 period PE or sports either. So, why the decision? I suggested that it was politically expedient. But, it can't be entirely, because such a glaring contradiction in the decision can be politically perilous as well. It would be interesting to know what is really behind it ...


4 people like this
Posted by parent of a teen
a resident of Escondido School
on Apr 11, 2015 at 2:37 pm


@CW
"And, again, we don't know whether any of the recent suicide victims took zero period classes. If none of them did have a zero period class, why are we eliminating it?"

We are eliminating it because Mr. Dauber says so. It is his first time up to bat and he wants a home run. Looks like he is going to get it. Remember he is the data guy. I would like to know who (a board member?) collaborated with the PAMF to speak up now as well as the 80 physicians' statement. The timing is interesting to me. Why didn't these emails to the board happen last Aug 2014? Or two years ago when we started school earlier? Mr Dauber is good at collecting data. You have to say that about him.


Like this comment
Posted by parent of a teen
a resident of Escondido School
on Apr 11, 2015 at 2:41 pm


@Opar

"Ah, well, it's interesting to see the Type A all-about-me-and-my-kid parents at work--the ugly side of Palo Alto's exceptionalism. It would be so wonderful if just one of you were capable of saying "Hey, we liked zero period for us, but given what's been happening, it's important to do what we can to create a healthier school environment, so we'll make it work."

We can't say that because we don't believe that eliminating zero period has anything to do with creating a healthier school environment. Time will tell though.


12 people like this
Posted by OPar
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Apr 11, 2015 at 2:48 pm

Greenmeadow Dad,

You distorted the viewpoint of Dr. Carskadon, which tells me what I need to know about how you do and don't argue.

It's a public-school district--Gunn's not a magnet school. School policy should never be about what's best for your special snowflake. You really don't seem to get that--you want exceptions. I suggest you look into private alternatives.

And, I see, we're supposed to let kids decide how my tax dollars should be spent and ignore the recommendations of medical experts in the field because?

I mean, puh-leeze, this is your idea of good decision making?

I read the student pleas and, like yours, they were self-centered--it's very much about what a particular student wants and why and nothing about suicide prevention and reducing depression and anxiety among students overall.

And you know something? That's fine--I expect adolescents to be self-centered--that's normal. You, on the other hand, ought to know better.

We have children killing themselves here--those kids aren't ever coming back. No more birthdays, no more family picnics, no more arguments over video games. Those kids are gone.

Not one more--and whatever thing we can do in the schools to lessen the risk of another suicide is something I'm going to support.

If we did not have an issue with teen suicide and depression in this city, then, yes, I would be more open to some "choices". But we DO have an issue with teen suicide. And the pro-Zero period group self-servingly ignores that very real issue.


10 people like this
Posted by GreenmeadowDad
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Apr 11, 2015 at 2:52 pm

GreenmeadowDad is a registered user.

[It is his first time up to bat and he wants a home run. Looks like he is going to get it. Remember he is the data guy.]

Ken Dauber, the data guy, put out a confused proposal that solves nothing. A proposal based on no data (which is fine ... I don't care ... but call it what it is). If he truly concurs with the expert opinion (again, not data), then what does a proposal that keeps 0 period PE and sports accomplish?

So, that's what we're getting from Ken Dauber (the data guy) on he first time up to bat ...


8 people like this
Posted by OPar
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Apr 11, 2015 at 2:56 pm

Parent of a Teen,

Right just because the medical research strongly suggests that a later start time is healthier doesn't apply here because our kids are *all* exceptional. No, sorry, just yours.

If the consequences of this exceptionalist mindset weren't so grim, it would be funny.

I feel for McGee though--this kind of arrogance is not as common in the Midwest.


5 people like this
Posted by parent of a teen
a resident of Triple El
on Apr 11, 2015 at 2:56 pm



@GreenmeadowDad,

I completely agree with you.


15 people like this
Posted by Skeptic
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Apr 11, 2015 at 2:59 pm

Since "Greenmeadow" is calling for data here's some.

There were literally only a handful (fewer than 10) people who wrote to the school board [portion removed] asking to retain zero period according to the documents released to the public. Three of these individuals were members of the Rozak family, who urged that retention of zero period so that their daughter can get out of school early every day to ride her horse. The wife in this family is a doctor, Alison Van Egeren, but is unwilling herself to give a medical opinion that zero period is safe for all students. Instead, she reached out to Professor Carskadon, who flatly rejected the idea that it is safe to attend school early.

There are no doctors, including Mrs. Rozak, who is willing to give a medical opinion that zero period is safe for all students, or that it is possible to figure out who it is safe for in advance, or to say that it has played no role in any of our suicides. Dr. Joshi has said that sleep deprivation cannot be ruled out as a cause of our suicides. Ken Dauber has said that the board has information on the risks of zero period that are not available to the public but that if the public knew what he knows, the public would share his concern for zero period.

On the other side of 100 doctors and the information in the possession of the super and board, we have around 10 people, including 3 from the same family [portion removed.]

But what about the survey?

Doesn't that mean, as some are saying here, that all our students want this?

Absolutely not.

The survey was of population of 2000 students.

Fewer than 20% responded to it, even though all could do so easily. The sample was non-random, meaning that the results cannot be generalized, and the response rate of less than 20% means that it is so low as to provide little valid information.

What it tells us is that for those ~200 kids who have taken zero period, they would like to retain it. Even of those, however, ~50 had negative sleep impacts and reported them.

So what do we know? Do we know that "students like zero period"? No. We know that some small set of students, fewer than 20% of the population, would like to retain zero period. The rest do not care enough to answer a survey and aren't posting here. They aren't up in arms. They don't care. It is a gross misrepresentation of the data to say that students support zero 83% of students do not have any opinion on zero period that has been expressed.

There are 13,000 students in PAUSD. fewer than 10 families wrote letters asking for the retention of zero period.


2 people like this
Posted by parent of a teen
a resident of Triple El
on Apr 11, 2015 at 3:00 pm


@Opar

I never said anything about my teen.

But the medical research does STRONGLY suggest 'on average' and 'most' not ALL. And that's what Gunn had, most kids at Gunn were starting school at 8:25am.


Like this comment
Posted by GreenmeadowDad
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Apr 11, 2015 at 3:03 pm

GreenmeadowDad is a registered user.

@ Skeptic

My wife, a physician, is not a sleep researcher, and does not pretend to be one.


3 people like this
Posted by Skeptic
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Apr 11, 2015 at 3:16 pm

[Post removed.]


16 people like this
Posted by From a Parent
a resident of Gunn High School
on Apr 11, 2015 at 3:18 pm

@"Gunn Student a resident of Gunn High School", who doesn't want anything to change:

Our educational system has failed you and your friends. We have all these talented youth, and we teach them that nonstop intense studying is the great challenge to prove their worth and be successful, and that succeeding in this narrow system is a measure of your intelligence and potential.

My high school background was so poor, I had to basically give myself a high school education while also taking my freshman courses my first year at MIT. Seriously, I would sometimes leave lectures having not been able to string together a single sentence with a subject or a predicate that made any sense to me. I couldn't see how I could work any harder, how it would be possible for me to ever get my work done.

Finally some upperclassmen intervened. They finally got through to me some very counterintuitive measures: No matter what I had to do, no matter how busy or how stressed, I needed to get regular sleep, no exceptions. I needed to take at least one day off every week in which I didn't do work, didn't think about work, and just went and had fun. They had other recommendations I thought would never work. But with great discipline, I did everything they said, especially taking time off, and it worked.

Immediately, my performance went up to a whole other level, and everything suddenly became easier, too. (I ended up graduating in the top 10% of my class.) I was actually angry that I hadn't been taught that kind of work-life balance in high school. Working your tail off turns out not to be the best way to perform your best.

Second point: my spouse and colleagues hire lots of STEAM grads and speak disparagingly about straight-A students, in fact, won't even hire them anymore unless they have direct experience with them from internships. Word is they don't know how to do anything autonomously and that they expect to be told what to do. Life is messy. You may be a great mountain climber, but no one is going to bring the mountain to you when you get out of school anymore, you will have to MAKE it yourself. You're not learning how to do that in a traditional educational program (speaking from experience).

You don't need zero period, even if you are an early riser. You only think you do because the system has been set up so badly and has set you up in a really narrow competition. You're good at that competition, and zero period helps, we get that. But unfortunately, there is no way to know in advance who is susceptible, the phenomenon of denial is very real so it's not just a matter of self-selection solving the problem of who should be allowed. Instead of demanding zero period, consider why it is that you want zero period. Is there some other way to accomplish the same ends? If so, then advocate for it. Your best chance is now while all the adults feel guilty about taking away zero period for those who feel they benefit.

This decision could be a blessing in disguise if you let it be.

If you think there is no way to accomplish the same goal without zero period, then it is a sign you are seriously unprepared for solving problems in the real world -- consider it your first real-world problem to solve. I am telling you this as someone who was incredibly stressed out in high school because of a seriously dumbed-down program that came about from a misguided effort to reduce stress. I don't want to see that happen here, either, but I suggest you choose your battles wisely, and that means, not zero period.

I support removing the zero period for all the reasons expressed. It's just like stricter rules for teen drivers - not that all teens are risky. I was allowed a drivers' license at age 15. In hindsight, it was too early. Many people would have balked if we'd had the rules we have now for teen drivers. But more than one kid I knew would be alive today if we'd had them. Such limitations wouldn't have made a difference for me, and would have made my driving to my after-school job and activities harder, but I only know that in hindsight. That's how decisions like this have to be made because you really can't decide with any certainty in advance who will be impacted, only that overall, it creates better safety.

Luckily, this community will listen to you if you have constructive proposals to create similar benefits in other ways, too, that don't involve having to bring back zero period. That's just a non-starter. I hope you will consider brainstorming other proposals with other students.

[PS - I may have posted above but can't find it - sorry if so]


9 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 11, 2015 at 3:20 pm

It is now mid afternoon on Saturday and as yet I have not received an email or notification about this new policy.

There are many families who are still not back in the swing from Spring Break. I expected that something like this might have come out so that some may not notice unless they are the ones involved.

However, I will say that listening to students is a good idea, but giving any one of them everything they want is not listening to them. I remember my kids asking for lots of things they wanted but as a parent I had to say no, not yet or a partial no. I know from parental experience that a kid can do a certain amount of something difficult for a while, but keeping it up is hard, particularly when other things come into play. A teen may think that getting up an hour earlier for zero period is easy, until they get sick, or an overload of homework, or something comes up that prevents them from getting to bed on time. I also find it hard to believe that we have so many "larks" as teens, from my experience not just as a parent but from my own teen years, friends, extended family, volunteering, etc., very few teens are able to get up early for an extended period of time and we are talking about a whole academic year - not just a few weeks of drivers' ed, or a sports season.

And when it comes to good mental health, extended periods of sleep deprivation cause poor judgment decision, poor physical health and poor brain power. In my own life I have had to experience sleep deprivation on many occasions due to jet lag. I know what it does to my body. I know that life feels unreal when sleep deprivation takes place. I know that any decision I make while sleep deprived makes me wonder why I made it when I get back to normal sleep patterns.

Some of these teens who are demanding (like a two year old) to be allowed to continue sleep loss even though they say they are in bed for the required number of hours, sound more likely to be lacking in judgment because of lack of sleep rather than mature decision makers. Just because someone is in bed by a certain time does not mean that they are in deep sleep for all those hours.


12 people like this
Posted by GreenmeadowDad
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Apr 11, 2015 at 3:24 pm

GreenmeadowDad is a registered user.

@ Skeptic

You're right. The case is closed for the students. They lose.

But, the case is not closed for the people involved in this process (superintendent, data-driven Ken Dauber) for this solves-nothing proposal and decision. Those who come up for re-election will have to answer where their data-driven roots have gone ...


Like this comment
Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on Apr 11, 2015 at 3:24 pm

Is this the supporting quote?

"Sleeping less than 8 hours at night seems to be associated with an almost threefold increased risk of suicide attempts..." AAP Technical Report, Judith Owens, MD.

Seems to be associated with?


7 people like this
Posted by Skeptic
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Apr 11, 2015 at 3:29 pm

[Portion removed.]

@musical. That is one of the many quotes. Does something that seems to be associated with a 200% increase in suicide not persuade you that it's a problem? You would like a more definitive connection to suicide? What would you like? Definitive proof that one of our students in a zero period class is now dead from suicide? Would that be enough or would you just stammer around about how there's no "definitive proof" that it contributed to his death?

Really people. This is game over. Just stop.


8 people like this
Posted by Another dad
a resident of Barron Park
on Apr 11, 2015 at 3:30 pm

I hear some very strong and passionate arguments "For Zero Period". I deeply respect these arguments. Here is my response.

-----------------

Gunn high school is currently experiencing a rash of suicides that qualfies as a public health emergency. If this were a disease like Measles, you'd have black helicopters in hovering over the school, the entire school would be closed and would have national guard surrounding it.

You need to understand this: these suicides are literally a existential threat to the continued existence of Gunn.

You should not be worried about continuing Zero Period. You should be worried whether Gunn is shut down and every employee fired. You should worry about parents literally ripping their kids out of the school in panic. State and Federal grand juries investigating the school. Lawsuits.

None of the above scenarios are implausible.

Schools cannot operate in conditions in which large numbers of the kids are so distraught that they take their lives. Or, that hundreds of kids are considered to be "at risk" for suicide. This is politically,morally, and economically untenable in our society.

It is a temporary aberration and it will correct itself, very soon. That correction can be very painful for Palo Alto, or it can be taken in stride.


1 person likes this
Posted by Frustrated Parent
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Apr 11, 2015 at 4:01 pm

What is the mechanism to get such a grand jury investigation started ?


2 people like this
Posted by GreenmeadowDad
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Apr 11, 2015 at 4:12 pm

GreenmeadowDad is a registered user.

@ Another dad

Great points! Agreed!

Lawsuits ...

It's sad, but perhaps instructive, to look at the lawsuit brought up against Cornell and Ithica for their suicide cluster:
Web Link

They were sued for not adequately protecting the iconic location where the suicide clusters were taking place.


6 people like this
Posted by CW
a resident of Crescent Park
on Apr 11, 2015 at 4:19 pm

OPar, you say "Dauber made it clear that the zero period couldn't be dismissed as an issue in at least one of the suicides."

When did he say this?

The district has been saying that they won't disclose whether any of the recent suicide victims was in a zero period class because of confidentiality laws. If what you're saying is true, that Dauber made such a statement, then he has access to confidential information not available to the public. [Portion removed.]

The district can't, on one hand, say the information is confidential and on the other hand release it through a school board member.

If Mr. Dauber is reading this, how did you obtain this information? (If you never said what OPar claimed you said, I apologize for asking you this question.)


12 people like this
Posted by C
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Apr 11, 2015 at 4:22 pm

"I'm curious why Gunn started offering zero-period academics, while Paly only has PE. Did Paly parents and students not want academics in zero-period, or was it a decision of the school administration?"

I attended Paly until recently, and I certainly remember that there used to be a 0-period AP Chemistry class offered for at least 1 year (I think for 2 years straight?). But not enough students enrolled that/either year, and it was cancelled and they didn't offer it from that point on. I wasn't able to find a list of past course offerings so I sadly don't have any data to back this up. This, of course, might indicate that 0-period is very much optional and students AREN'T being forced into taking it...

"What no one is really acknowledging here is that by demanding an unhealthy environment (early classes), super-achievers/super-competitors/tiger parents are forcing other students (due to peer or parent pressure to compete) to enroll in these early classes even though it is detrimental to their health. What about the 10% of zero-period students in whats-her-name's survey that did NOT support having a zero period? Are we, as a community, deciding it's OK if that 10% commits suicide so the other 90% can enjoy more "choices?" How many of the 90% didn't believe their responses were truly anonymous, and answered the way they though they "should?"

Life is about choices. As stated in earlier posts by others, students need only 215 credits to graduate, but can earn 240 with only six classes for four years. So, students, please start making some choices, prioritize what is most important to you (AP classes, athletics, music) and if you aren't challenged enough then please look at outside resources to further fill out your college app."
RE the 10% in 0 period who don't support it: I can't believe you're actually seriously suggesting that we should get rid of an OPTIONAL program because SOME students don't like it. While we're at it, can we also get rid of math Club, Scioly, Speech and Debate, foreign language clubs, and everything else that allows me to indulge in my passions? Some people might disapprove of these vocational activities. Also, see my note about Paly's 0-period AP chem class.

Also I can't believe you think you should force people to go to more expensive off-campus options rather than servicing their needs. This is a public school - it exists to fulfill the needs of the majority of students. And please don't imply that students ONLY like taking classes for the sakes of their college apps. Some of us actually enjoy what we do.

"I read the student pleas and, like yours, they were self-centered--it's very much about what a particular student wants and why and nothing about suicide prevention and reducing depression and anxiety among students overall.

And you know something? That's fine--I expect adolescents to be self-centered--that's normal. You, on the other hand, ought to know better."
Oh - you think adults aren't self centered? There's nobody out there who believes that everyone acts in their own self interest, is there... Web Link

Has it never occurred to you by that removing zero period for the students who use it as a de-stresser that their stress will increase? And so even if this proposal *does* reduce *some* student stress, we have no way of knowing what the net increase/decrease in stress would be. Furthermore, the main argument behind removing 0-period is that it's bad for teens because teens can't fall asleep before 10 PM. If you actually skim the paper, I'm pretty sure they say "average" teenager, and we're ignoring the tail ends of the spectrum here. So the testimony from these students that they are morning people actually IS important, as it reminds the board not to ignore anything but the average. As one person said an email, (I'm paraphrasing here) 'the average size shoe for women in the US is an 8, but we don't make shoes one-size-fits all, because life isn't all about averages.'

Below I've linked 2 letters for those who were too lazy to open the document.

"As a student of Gunn High School who takes a zero period, I would say that having a zero period
has allowed me to have a much more flexible, balanced life. I am a morning person, so, I am
able to concentrate more in my zero period class than I am in my class after lunch. Also, my
school day ends an hour earlier thanks to having a zero period. This has allowed me to actually
live a life outside of school. Because I get out so early, I am able to ride my horse every day
after school and still have time do complete all of my homework and be in bed by 9:30. Also, the
commute to school is much quicker in the morning, so, I only have to wake up 30 minutes
earlier than I would for a normal school day. Although a zero period does not work for every
students, for some students, it is a great way for them to live a balanced life. Taking zero
periods is 100% by choice of the students. Please do not take away choices from students.
Having choices takes away stress"

"First, I would like to thank you for taking action on fixing our schools.
However, I think that the focus of where we need to fix our schools
policy is not zero period. I am right now enrolled in math for my zero
period class and I find it to be a great experience as I am not tired or
spent because of time I spent in other classes, I can focus more of my
energy to a class where I difficulties before. Also, with the zero period I
do receive a prep period, or a free period. This prep period allows me to
either relax with my friends or do more homework. Being a student
athlete, I lose time due to practice. With this prep period I have more
time to do my homework because I can do it in school rather than lose
sleep time by doing my homework. Due to fact that everyone who does
enroll in a zero period does get a prep, I do believe some people take
advantage of it. As they will come late to class or not show up at all
because they cannot wake up as i have seen this act performed by other
students. So I do propose that we keep academic and athletic zero
periods but do keep monitors as if students show x times late or
absences that they are removed from zero period. All in all, I think that
zero period is a great CHOICE for some high school students and I hope
you keep offering for students such as myself"

"Hello,
I am a in Gunn High School and I am currently enrolled in Zero Period Lit Style. I heard
about the conversation of removing zero period for next year. Hopefully you will take my opinion into
consideration. Zero period allows me to come home early and get a head start on my homework. This
really helps decrease my stress, because I have so much more time to complete my homework, this
also lets me do better in all my classes because I have more time to complete the work in the class and
understand what has been taught. Coming home early also let's me have more time to study for tests,
which, once again, reduces my stress level. Also, I am a person who sleeps early, so I get enough sleep,
much more than the average high school student. Because I come home early, I get more free time
throughout the day and I can manage my time more wisely. In addition, I am in a high level in
, I also volunteer at . I am at least in one of these activities each day of
the week. Zero period gives me time to finish off my homework early and go to these classes without
any worry. Students who do not want to go into zero period, do not have to take the class, but it is not
fair for the students who need zero period and the G prep period if they are not given the option.
Several students in my zero period class agree with me on this opinion. They believe that students
should be given the option of taking zero period, because it allows us more time to finish homework,
get a head start on later assignments, more time to study for tests"

*If some of the sentences appear to be missing words, it's likely because they were redacted to protect student privacy.


16 people like this
Posted by Skeptic
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Apr 11, 2015 at 4:35 pm

[Portion removed.]

Now let's get a union contract that requires the use of Schoology since apparently we have so little management control of the union that our principals are intimidated and our teachers are running amok with homework and refusing to use our IT tools.


5 people like this
Posted by Tom DuBois
a resident of Midtown
on Apr 11, 2015 at 6:35 pm

Tom DuBois is a registered user.

A parent suggested to me that the city institute a 11 PM curfew. Mountain View has one, Redwood City has one.

PA Onliners, what do you think?


11 people like this
Posted by EC
a resident of Gunn High School
on Apr 11, 2015 at 7:38 pm

It's nice to know that the adults still don't care what we students think. This sort of change for the sake of the adults will play out again and again in the upcoming years because they don't listen and they have all the power. I'm graduating and getting the hell out of here.


7 people like this
Posted by Parent
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Apr 11, 2015 at 7:41 pm

McGee's letter says about 15% of the population (being % of natural early risers who know how to handle their sleep schedules) would benefit, but for the rest it would be detrimental.

Well guess what, if there are 300 taking zero period at Gunn, that's coincidentally about 15%. And its optional not a forced march, so the rest are opting out!

Exactly who is being protected with this - the ones who don't sign up for it anyway?

Where's the rest of the story?


23 people like this
Posted by Note from across town
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Apr 11, 2015 at 8:00 pm

I feel so sorry and frankly embarrassed for the Gunn community, insofar as there seems to be so many of you who apparently can't hear yourselves as you scream for your precious zero period (which is gone), while callously ignoring that this is a reasonable measure in view of the public health crisis in our midst. [Portion removed.] It's the same mindset in which the Gunn newspaper (with a teacher involved, it's an official school publication), summarily dismissed poor Martha's proposals to try to improve the school after the suicide last fall (how that public rebuke must have felt for her I can only imagine), in a unanimous editorial filled with a lot of stilted writing and faulty logic. It seems there's a dominant groupthink there that says SHUT UP and GO AWAY, everything's JUST FINE, leave us ALONE so we can go back to our 8 or 9 period days and take even more APs, so we can keep running things just how we want to develop our own perfect genius and live our own perfect lives. I'm sure you all will fight the bell schedule improvements too. What a sad state of affairs for you all.


8 people like this
Posted by GreenmeadowDad
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Apr 11, 2015 at 8:14 pm

GreenmeadowDad is a registered user.

[Post removed.]


10 people like this
Posted by Parent
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Apr 11, 2015 at 8:17 pm

Note from Across Town - [Portion removed.] WHO are you trying to protect? Exactly? The 15% of students and their families who voluntarily choose this time slot to help them manage their days? Or the 85% of the students who choose not to use it anyway? Where the hell do you get the idea that taking a zero period means any greater number of classes allowed, or any great amount of academic content than a normal schedule? [Portion removed.]

They start earlier, they get out earlier, period. They get their homework done during the day. They get to relax at night. [Portion removed.] They have an had a helpful option for managing their day - and their being berated for exercising an option, when not a single person is forced to do this against their will.

[Portion removed.]


8 people like this
Posted by OPar
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Apr 11, 2015 at 8:19 pm

[Portion removed.]

The district is supposed to reject a strong recommendation by the local medical community and the AAP that is backed by multiple studies so your kid can keep up her horseback riding schedule?

After we've had three suicides this year? [Portion removed.]

I mean, seriously, the compromises of public education are not for you and there are several good private schools around--a couple of them (Pinewood, Woodside Priory) are in horse country.


9 people like this
Posted by Parent
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Apr 11, 2015 at 8:30 pm

OPar, so you're stating that there is a link between the suicides in this school district and the zero period. Please provide a link to wherever that has been stated or disclosed.

If there's a link, I'm not clear on why McGee has agreed to allow anything at all (athletics or anything else) to occur on campuses during the zero period. Because clearly sleep is sleep, and waking up is waking up. Has this been explained?


9 people like this
Posted by GreenmeadowDad
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Apr 11, 2015 at 8:32 pm

GreenmeadowDad is a registered user.

To: OPar

[medical research on preventing further suicides]

- The AAP informs that there is medical research showing harmful effects of inadequate sleep in teens. There is medical research based on wellness surveys showing that the average student does not get enough sleep with the first mandatory bell before 830. There is no research that a minority of students who self-select into a voluntary earlier start time do not get sufficient sleep. So, let's be honest with what the research says. There is no dispute that researchers in the sleep field have offered their opinion. But, this half-compromise solution proposed by Ken Dauber does not even conform to their opinion.

[Portion removed.]

- Every student that choses 0 period does it for their own personal reasons that are important to them.


6 people like this
Posted by Parent
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Apr 11, 2015 at 8:42 pm

Opar, [portion removed]

Just curious, do you also define any working person with a 5 day a week job as selfish and self centered, who may ask their boss for flexible start or end times, or other flexible work schedule options?

Just curious because why as adults surving in Silicon Valley, flexible work schedules are demanded, expected, and even the norm, and I'm pretty sure are there as a well understood employee benefit - that helps employees manage stress and work life balance - just wondering why these benefits are afforded to adults WITHOUT QUESTION but our teens asking for similar considerations are dismissed as selfish and self centered.


5 people like this
Posted by And the horse you rode in on
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Apr 11, 2015 at 8:59 pm

[Post removed.]


7 people like this
Posted by Be Kind PA
a resident of JLS Middle School
on Apr 11, 2015 at 10:20 pm

Be Kind PA is a registered user.

[Portion removed.]

C:

Only about 15% of the Gunn population overall is taking a zero period, and of the less than 300 students who responded to the (completely unscientific and flawed) survey by a 15 year old seeking to find support for zero period, even 10% of the students that are currently taking zero period did not support it! That means there are around 30 kids or so who are currently in a zero period class and don't want to be!

Find some medical professionals to openly argue why zero period is harmless for all and essential for even some, and we can have a conversation. Until then, please consider the needs of the overall community and find other ways to resolve some very individual and minority desires. You CANNOT just keep claiming it is "optional" when we, as adults, know full well the effect of peer and parental pressure on students to achieve in this community, and know full well that teenagers' brains are not developed enough to handle the pressure and logical decision-making required to off-set the danger posed.

Please put aside your WANTS, even if there is only a very small chance that it saves even one more life.


8 people like this
Posted by Be Kind PA
a resident of JLS Middle School
on Apr 11, 2015 at 10:39 pm

Be Kind PA is a registered user.

GreenmeadowDad:

>> There is no research that a minority of students who self-select into a voluntary earlier start time do not get sufficient sleep.

There is also no research that students who self-select into a voluntary earlier start time DO get sufficient sleep. Dr. Carskadon made that point quite clearly, and further suggested there should be further research into this sub-category of teens.

Frankly, I don't see why it matters HOW a teen ends up in a zero period class since "self-select" may or may not actually be "voluntary" by the teen themselves (as opposed to being imposed by a parent, or a reaction to peer pressure, or fears about getting into a good college). Even if it is truly voluntary by the teen, they are most likely not mature enough to fully grasp the consequences of signing up for a lack of sleep.

Having already raised kids who went through the PAUSD school system and dealt with these exact issues, I can tell you the decisions made by teens can be very short-sighted, pressure-driven, and much regretted later.
[Portion removed.]

Please stop demanding this "option" that is really not an option to many kids, and even for those that do choose it readily it most likely is not a healthy option. If some kids argued that smoking helped them de-stress and manage their lives better, would you support that too, despite the medical evidence?


5 people like this
Posted by GreenmeadowDad
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Apr 11, 2015 at 11:00 pm

GreenmeadowDad is a registered user.

All,

This is ridiculous (for me). It's Saturday evening, and I'm all spun up over this.

I have enjoyed the opportunity to engage in this discussion with all of you, even as I understand that this decision is not going to change based on any little thing I post on this forum. I know we all want what is best for the children ... the school board, the superintendent, the researchers, the parents, the students, forum posters, the newspaper, all concerned. And, I appreciate your positions, inputs, work, and even more your putting up with me. I've gotten sucked into the emotions of this, and I can feel it in my veins and see it in my posts.

So, I'm removing myself from this discussion. Moderator, feel free to delete all my posts. In fact, I would prefer it. Even as the handle GreenmeadowDad, I really don't want to be associated with this topic anymore. Sleep is important for adults too.

All, please forgive my disrespect, impertinence, name-calling, accusations, whatever, in the posts and emails. I very well understand that all involved in this entire process sincerely want what is best for the children.

I hope you have understood that I too want what is best for our children, even as we disagree.

Thank you for your time, and good luck for the sake of all of us and our children ...


6 people like this
Posted by Jerry Underdal
a resident of Barron Park
on Apr 12, 2015 at 12:35 am

Jerry Underdal is a registered user.

GreenmeadowDad,

You have my full respect for the gracious form of your withdrawal from further discussion on this subject. It's good modeling for all of us on TS. Thank you.


Like this comment
Posted by JLS mom of 2
a resident of JLS Middle School
on Apr 12, 2015 at 7:43 am

JLS mom of 2 is a registered user.

[Post removed.]


20 people like this
Posted by iSez
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Apr 12, 2015 at 1:56 pm

iSez is a registered user.

Re posting above: This is exactly why parents don't complain to teachers - fear of retaliation and loss of reputation. It's safer to stay under the radar and deal with it instead of using a bullhorn.


2 people like this
Posted by resident3
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 12, 2015 at 10:22 pm

resident3 is a registered user.

Tom DuBois,

"A parent suggested to me that the city institute a 11 PM curfew. Mountain View has one, Redwood City has one.

PA Onliners, what do you think?"

If the idea is to get kids to bed earlier, I don't see how a curfew would help. Homework keeps kids at home most weeknights, and even weekends. It's not like they're hanging out and on the street (that would be too normal).

Looking at thethe curfew in Mt View, it also looks like if we actually had some kids hanging out, it would be yet another restriction.

The City should focus on dealing with the tracks, aren't there motion sensors or some technology to help there?


Web Link
>Q: Does the city of Mountain View have a curfew for teens? If so, why?

A: The city does have a curfew ordinance (10 p.m., 7 days a week). The ordinance was presented and approved by the city council for several reasons. However, the most compelling of reasons was simply for the safety of the youth of our community. Far too often officers found youth out at unusual hours of the night with no specific purpose. This puts the youths at risk as the later it gets, and the less activity there is in the community, the greater the likelihood that they will become victims of crime.

Q: Up to what age does the curfew apply?

A: The curfew is for persons under age 18.

Q: What happens if police find a teen walking around after curfew?

A: If a youth is noticed by an officer out after curfew they will be contacted by the officer. The purpose of this is to simply determine if they are out on legitimate business. The officer may confirm this information and make sure the parents are aware by calling the youth's residence.

If they are found to be in violation of the curfew, they would be transported home, or a parent would be called to pick them up and they may receive a citation.

Q: How is curfew enforced?

A: The department responds only when police do not specifically assign officers to look for curfew violations. Its response is only when a person calls into report an incident or when the officer happens to observe a person who is subject to curfew out without any legitimate reason.<



7 people like this
Posted by rick
a resident of Midtown
on Apr 12, 2015 at 11:03 pm

rick is a registered user.

The other end of Mountain View's curfew is sunrise.

That might be too early if Palo Alto really wants to become a nanny state.


Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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