Should American school days start later?
President Obama’s Secretary of Education Arne Duncan started a lively debate on Twitter Aug. 19 when he wrote, “Common sense to improve student achievement that too few have implemented: let teens sleep more, start school later.”
Duncan is now taking that message to the American people in the hopes to begin a national discussion about school start times. “There’s lots of research and common sense that a lot of teens struggle to get up at 6 in the morning to get on the bus or 5:30 in the morning to get on the bus,” Duncan told National Public Radio’s “The Diane Rehm Show.”
“Study after study has shown mornings are very difficult [for teenagers],” Duncan told the program. “They’re not very awake — they’re groggy, they’re not able to pay attention in class,” he said.
Starting later would increase teens’ chances of being focused and concentrating so they can get more out of their school day, he said.
“So often in education, we design school systems that work for adults and not for kids,” he said, citing current high school hours as “another example of that.”
Duncan said Washington would not mandate a later start time. That decision would be left to the nation’s 15,000 school districts, he said.
But he encouraged districts to challenge the existing state of affairs and consider a later start time.
“The vast majority of districts are just sort of conforming to the status quo, rather than being creative and innovative,” he said.
“I would love to see more districts contemplating a later start time,” he said.
Duncan was unclear as to how the administration would work to influence or enforce any across-the-board changes to start times in American schools. This kind of micro-management of an issue that would normally be left to states and/or local municipalities to determine is an example of federal government meddling that raises the ire of the American people.
What do you think? Is it just too hard for teenagers to wake up for scool, and should we change start times across the country to accommodate the poor little darlings?