by Nicole Funes
Daily agony: my alarm rings, as I stumble out of bed at 5 a.m. way before the blue jays start to squawk. Shower, dress, quick juice and race five blocks to the bus stop. That run downhill gets my heat beating.
It’s now 6:45 and if I’m lucky I’m on the first of two buses that cross Oakland from East (south) to West (others have to transfer twice). It’s an hour and 20 minute ride and I have to be lucky — the buses have to be on schedule and follow their route without “incident” for me to make it to school on time.
There are a handful of us loyal to the West: we were displaced by gentrification but we identify with West Oakland and its community spirit and “family-like” feel.
Nevertheless, school administrators greet us with curt remarks “Late again?” and stony stares, as though we stopped at the corner store for a chat or overslept.
Anywhere between 12 to 40 students arrive late to school every day, said Will Blackwell, who teaches manhood at McClymonds. Tardiness can affect grades, other teachers said.
It’s clear that we need more sleep and less stress about the commute.
Just look at the newest study: a study by the University of Minnesota’s Center for Applied Research and Educational Improvement showed that later start times for high school students are better. The three-year study involved 9,000 students at eight high schools in three states.
Earlier studies in Minneapolis showed that later start times (and more sleep)produced higher graduation rates.
Even McClymonds students recognize that sleep deprivation affects their school work.
“I’m tired and irritated in the morning,” said Kaya LaForte, a freshman at McClymonds, who is an A student but feels she could do more if she were not so tired.
Part of her problem is the long commute. “It can take an hour or more. The bus driver could be making a lot of stops. Some people might have to take 2 more buses, and BART, then have to walk sometime and then might not make it,” she said.
Like others, she often skips breakfast.
She feels targeted when she comes in late. The response to the bus saga at school: “That’s not an acceptable excuse. You need to leave 5 minutes earlier.”
Sleep affects performance, the study showed. More sleep, researchers found, improves grades and standardized test results.
“We did find that there was statistically significant improvement in their grades in English, math, social studies and science, all the core academic areas,” said Kayla Wahlstrom, director of the University of Minnesota Center and the study’s author. “And we found improvements on standardized tests, like the ACT test.”
The study showed that schools with start times at 7:30 a.m. had just 34 percent of students who reported getting eight or more hours of sleep, while schools with start times of 8:55 a.m. had 66 percent of students getting eight or more hours of sleep.
Wahlstrom also said coaches told her that the athletes were more able to remember plays and could perform better physically with more sleep.
“It’s easier to get up in the morning when you get enough sleep,” said Anthony Beron, a sophomore who played JV football and is a long distance runner. “When you’re rested, you can run faster, longer and compete harder.”
Sustainable Future for Oakland: Students Care
by Anthony Beron
Oakland High senior Kasey Saeturn relies on the bus for the long trek to school every day. It’s already overcrowded and unreliable.
Her nightmare could end: an alternative plan known as Scenario 5 could make Oakland more “sustainable” while investing more money in buses to restore service to levels that existed in the past, she told at an environmental impact report hearing on April 16.
“Buses are overcrowded,” she said. She also supports “eco-friendly buses.”
Saeturn was one of several students to testify at the hearing about the Environmental Impact Report, which analyzed several alternatives to Plan Bay Area.
In their testimony, students supported Alternative 5, touted as “the environmentally superior alternative,” which would decrease greenhouse gases and particulate pollution that triggers asthma. It would also budget more money for affordable housing and buses.
The other students were graduates of McClymonds, Street Academy and Bentley high school, who are now attending college. The Rose Foundation’s summer program “New Voices Are Rising” had stirred interest in the plan.
Woody Little, a student at UC Berkeley who grew up in Rockridge, urged that any plan avoid displacing people from their current neighborhoods and create more affordable housing.
Plan Bay Area is a long-range transportation and land-use/housing plan for the entire San Francisco Bay Area. It includes the Bay Area’s Regional Transportation Plan (updated by the Metropolitan Transportation Commission), and the Association of Bay Area Governments’ demographic and economic forecast.
This is the first time legislation is asking MTC and ABAG to adopt a Sustainable Communities Strategy, which will coordinate land use and transportation in the regional transportation plan. The aim is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions for cars and light-duty trucks in the nine-county region. If the plan succeeds in getting people out of their cars, there would be more people riding buses and BART.
Pamela Tapia, a McClymonds graduate, told the story of her family’s displacement: that her mother now has to travel four hours to work and spends $60 a day. “The EIR fails to factor in the impact of gentrification on housing costs in neighborhoods that historically have been home to low-income residents.” Another McClymonds graduate, Devilla Ervin, talked about his foster mother having to move to Sacramento to find affordable housing.
Brenda Barron, who graduated from Street Academy and now attends San Francisco State, testified about changes in transportation: there are no buses near her home after 10 pm. She said that public transit should be more affordable and frequent and matters to younger people.
Another public hearing is scheduled in Fremont on May 1 at 6 pm at the Mirage Ballroom.
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Tagged bus, EIR, environmental justice, Fremont, gentrification, MTC, Oakland, Plan Bay Area, public hearing, Rose Foundation, sustainability, transportatuion