The controversial zero period | August 12, 2022 | Palo Alto Weekly | Palo Alto Online |

Palo Alto Weekly

Cover Story - August 12, 2022

The controversial zero period

Districts take divergent views on early-morning offerings

by Zoe Morgan, Angela Swartz and Leah Worthington

Under the new state law mandating later school start times, high schools can still offer a period that starts before 8:30 a.m., known as "zero" period. But the classes must be for a limited number of students and the period can't be used to calculate a school's average daily attendance for the purpose of receiving state funding.

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Posted by Consider Your Options.
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 15, 2022 at 1:41 pm

Consider Your Options. is a registered user.

Typical poor read of the research. Yes. most teens gravitate to later wake-up time...but the research makes clear that this is NOT true for ALL teens. What's good for one kid or even most kids isn't necessarily good for all. In high school, my daughter advocated against making this change for everyone. She was an early riser (what the research calls a percentage of kids like her). She preferred to take her hardest classes as early as possible. She went to bed at 9:30pm habitually and woke without an alarm at 6am. She still does this at 21. Her pleas to PAUSD Board fell on deaf ears at the time, and she was furious. Parents and PAUSD, in adolescence, kids start making their own choices. Offer zero period. Make the choice available to those who want it. Teachers, if you see a child is regularly skipping zero period class, COMMUNICATE with them and ask if the problem is sleep. If it is, suggest they change classes. Parents, don't be idiots who use zero period to push your kids to squeeze more classes into their schedule. If they are not early risers, they should be sleeping. Also, make sure that your child is exercising good sleep habits--no screens a half hour before sleep. No blue light in the bedroom. If they habitually text in bed, the phone belongs in another room. Make sure they keep a regular bedtime (one way to help your child with this is to make sure their computer automatically shuts off at an agreed upon time. Get exercise every day. Don't eat sugar after 9pm. Televisions and computers do not belong in the place where you sleep. Unless you have no alternative, your student's computer or TV does not belong in a bedroom. These are simple things that you can do to help your child learn good skills for establishing sleeping rhythms and habits. They still might be a late riser, but they will be more rested if they establish sleep routines that really work. Screens and irregular schedules are enemies of good, deep sleep.

Posted by Citizen
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 16, 2022 at 2:39 am

Citizen is a registered user.

You are so right. Some people are early risers and having classes that late is a disaster for their concentration. My spouse gets up at 5 or 6 every day even holidays and doesn’t feel right sleeping in, never has even as a student.

The problem here is that (despite the pandemic) our schools seem strenuously resistant to learning how to individualize education so that all students meet their potential. The idea is that if a zero period is offered, it becomes an opportunity that everyone feels pressure to take. But that wouldn’t be the case if opportunities were more diverse and individualized. No zero period class should only be available at that time. But saying tough nuts to students whose natural clock is on the early side is arbitrarily picking winners and losers. This is a well funded district. We do not have to do that.

When there is a conflict that can’t be resolved here because the answer has to apply exactly the same to everyone, we have to ask ourselves, why? Why can’t we learn to actually be fair by doing a better job meeting individual needs (which is what the law actually requires)? As they say in the Finnish system, whatever it takes for each student?

If the answer is that PAUSD staff just. cannot. handle. a system in which rank favoritism is not allowed, well, it’s high time to figure out how they can turn that inclination into treating all kids well. The answer should not be to double down on the good old factory model with all students forced through the same mold.

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