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Long Branch High School. (Photo: Jazz Guy via Flickr).

55% of New Jerseyans want high schools to start later, FDU poll finds

Poll tested favorability of proposed legislation pushing start times back to 8:30 a.m.

By Joey Fox, February 10 2023 10:46 am

Should high schoolers, that famously night-owlish cohort, be allowed to get a bit of extra sleep in the mornings? According to a new poll released this morning by Fairleigh Dickinson University, a majority of New Jerseyans say yes.

55% of respondents to the poll said that New Jersey high school opening times should be pushed back to 8:30 a.m., while 30% were opposed. (Currently, many high schools start as early as 7:30 a.m.)

Such a change would align with a bill currently sitting in the state legislature that requires high schools receiving state aid to begin no earlier than 8:30 a.m. Though the bill lists Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin (D-Woodbridge) and Senate Education Committee Chair Vin Gopal (D-Long Branch) among its sponsors, it has not come up for a hearing in either chamber.

“A lot of politics is about big picture, symbolically powerful measures that let elected officials send a signal about their priorities to voters,” FDU poll director Dan Cassino said in a statement accompanying the poll. “But it’s smaller measures like this that often do more to impact people’s everyday lives.”

While support for the policy overall is high, the poll found intriguing divides by party and gender. Democrats (65%-23%) were substantially more likely than independents (53%-32%) and Republicans (42%-42%) to say schools should start later, and the same goes for women (62%-23%) over men (48%-37%).

One factor that was not predictive of support, however, was parenthood. Nearly identical proportions of parents of minor children (56%) and non-parents (54%) said they’d support later high school start times.

The FDU poll was conducted between February 1 and February 6 with a sample size of 808 New Jersey adults and a margin of error of +/- 3.5%.

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