In September of last year I wrote a brief post about science and decision making in schools: Nice letter to the editor in the Davis Enterprise taking on school district’s anti-science tone. I include it below since it is very relevant to this post.
I assume many people heard about the recently released report from the American Academy of Pediatrics where they recommended high school classes start later in the morning than most do right now. See for example: Let Them Sleep: AAP Recommends Delaying Start Times of Middle and High Schools to Combat Teen Sleep Deprivation. And this report was covered in all sorts of newsy and bloggy places. See for example, Amy Graff’s article in SFGate and Deborah Netburn in the LA Times. Overall, the argument presented by the AAP makes sense and seems supported by scientific fundings. And they go through a lot of scientific reasons for their recommendations.
Alas, Winfred Roberson, superintendant of the Davis, CA schools (also known as the DJUSD) told the Davis Enterprise that the schools here would not be making any changes in response to this report:
“While DJUSD won’t be modifying start times, our role as an educational institution can be to find ways to support our students by giving them the tools that will help them to think through, make adjustments and prioritize their competing forces that may be cutting into the recommended sleep time,” Roberson said. “These are life skills we are helping to build that will help students to function even after graduation.”
And I had missed out on this quote, thankfully, but became aware of it when my wife showed me this letter by Steve Carlip in the Davis Enterprise today: Don’t ignore the science Davis Enterprise. I quote from it below:
The superintendent’s response, as reported in Tuesday’s Enterprise, was to simply ignore the science. Instead, he said, the schools will help student “build life skills” to “prioritize their competing forces that may be cutting into the recommended sleep time.”
Really? The high school is going to teach students to control their circadian rhythms? It’s going to give them the “life skills” to regulate the timing of their bodies’ secretion of melatonin? It will educate them to overcome biological sleep-wake phase delay by sheer force of will?
He completely nailed it here. I hope Winfred Roberson and the Davis School district rethink their attitude towards scientific studies.
Today I found out that the Davis School Board may actually be listening to the science. For the next school board meeting which is February 5 there is an agenda item on this topic c. Update on the Formation of a DJUSD Sleep Study Committee. The description of the agenda item is as follows:
In August 2014, the American Academy of Pediatrics released a scientific sleep study report that recommended an 8:30 am start time for schools, which would allow secondary students more time to sleep. The report generated community discussions and concerns since Davis secondary schools start before 8:30 am.
In response, the superintendent initiated the formation of a Sleep Study Committee (made up of students, teachers, counselors, parent/community members and administrators) to examine the benefits and logistical challenges of an earlier school start.
This update is a report of the formation of the Sleep Study Committee and their charge. For reiteration, at this time, staff is not offering recommendations about a modified start time. Staff will wait to review the work of the Sleep Study Committee before offering formal recommendations to the Board.
So I started digging around for more on the topic and found some things worth reading But the most interesting thing I found was that there has been a discussion about this exact issue in the county where I grew up: Montgomery County Maryland. Some of the articles about this area listed below:
- Washington Post 1/23/15: Montgomery parents plead for later high school start times
- Sentinel 1/27/15: Parents voice overwhelming support for delaying high school start times
- Bethesda Magazine: Parents, Medical Professionals Push for Later School Start Times in Montgomery County …
See some responses on Twitter:
Just got this email. I have removed the specific sender / facility since that does not seem needed for my purposes here. I have replaced the name of the site with “Our Facility”. Anyway – thought some people would be interested in the things that can happen when too many people in your community do not vaccinate their kids.
From: Office AdministrationSubject: Possible Exposure to Whooping Cough – PertussisDate: June 25, 2014 at 12:55:59 PM PDTTo: Office AdministrationDear Parent or Guardian,Our Facility was informed this morning that a student who has been attending a class since 6/16/14 has been diagnosed with pertussis (whooping cough). The child is no longer attending the class and is under a medical care.If you feel you or your child may have been exposed, watch carefully for symptoms in the next 1-2 weeks, and consult a physician if any occur. Here is some pertinent information regarding pertussis (whooping cough):Pertussis can spread through the air when people cough. It often starts like a common cold which gets worse and worse over 1-2 weeks. People with pertussis have coughing spells that may last several seconds. As they catch their breath at the end of each coughing spell, they may gasp loudly (“whoop”) and vomit or choke.The vaccine usually protects against pertussis, but sometimes even immunized children can get pertussis. Pertussis is treated with antibiotics. Antibiotics can also prevent the spread of pertussis to others.Activities that may help stop the spread of pertussis include:
- The exclusion of all pertussis cases from classes until they have taken the first five days of the antibiotic.
- The administration of antibiotics for babies, pregnant women and other high risk contacts of pertussis cases as well as consideration of antibiotic administration for other household or close contacts to prevent the further spread of pertussis.
- The administration of another dose of DTaP vaccine to babies and Tdap for older children who are not up to date on their vaccine series.Please know that Our Facility is taking every precaution in this matter and let us know if you have any questions or concerns.Sincerely,Office Staff
On Saturday I went into downtown Davis, CA with my kids to get them haircuts and then to get a present for one of their friends for a birthday party. We decided to get a present at Avid Reader downtown. And after looking for the gift and for some books for my kids I decided I wanted to check out their science section. And I came up with a present for myself too
— Jonathan Eisen (@phylogenomics) May 24, 2014
And then started reading it. It is quite good.
— Jonathan Eisen (@phylogenomics) May 25, 2014
— Charles Margulis (@kvetchingguru) May 25, 2014
And I then remembered I had been pointed to another via email a while back by Steve Faith at UC Davis: A Brief Tour Of The Alimentary Canal, From Spit To You Know What : Shots – Health News : NPR.
Still not done with the book but if you want a great read about our insides – I recommend Gulp by Mary Roach very highly.
DIY Science & Citizen Science & Open Science all rolled into one -PLOTS is coming to Davis, CA & UC Davis. See Davis – publiclaboratory.org for more information.
From City of Davis Guide to Composting
MICROORGANISM microscopic plants and animals.They exist in soil for the purpose of breaking down organic matter into basic mineral elements.They include bacteria, fungi, actinomycetes, algae, protozoa, yeast, germs, ground pearls, and nematodes.
Gonna have to get them to work on this …
The Davis Enterprise has really come through in the clutch with diverse coverage of the pepper spraying incident as well as diverse, interesting and sometimes unusual letters and comments. Here are some links from them of interest: