Tuesday, February 25, 2020
US flag

We join Arne Duncan in call for later H S start times

We reported in March about a move in Anne Arundel County, Md., to adjust the time the first bell would ring in the county’s high schools to a time later than the current 7:17 AM.

We cited research, largely conducted over the last several decades by Mary Carskadon at Brown University, that suggested a lack of sufficient sleep in teenagers puts them at risk for cognitive and emotional difficulties, poor school performance, accidents, and psychopathology. She is on record as calling the practice of having teens in class before 8:30 “abusive.” Others have called the practice “deleterious” and “cruel.” For more information, please consult schoolstarttime.org.

And last week, via Twitter, US Education Secretary Arne Duncan weighed in, the Washington Post reports. He tweeted:

Common sense to improve student achievement that too few have implemented: let teens sleep more, start school later.

The movement sort of fizzled out in Anne Arundel County, based on reports that it would cost so many millions of dollars to shift bus drivers’ schedules all around, but make no mistake: people there and in other Maryland counties still hold out hope the start times will be adjusted so their children can get the proper amount of sleep.

I won’t repeat what I said in my report six months ago, and there are really no substantial updates in the Post’s coverage besides Mr Duncan’s tweet. It just gives me one more chance to put in a plug to start high school later and elementary school earlier to accommodate the normal sleep-wake rhythms of both adolescents and young children.

Terra Ziporyn Snider, executive director of the national group Start School Later, said activists are optimistic about the effect of Duncan’s words. “It really does give credibility. We’re very pleased,” the Post quoted her as saying.

I am also optimistic. Let ’em sleep a little.

Paul Katula is the executive editor of the Voxitatis Research Foundation, which publishes this blog. For more information, see the About page.

Recent posts

Most detailed images ever of the sun

A new telescope at the National Solar Observatory snapped the most detailed pictures of the sun's surface we have ever seen.

Feds boost Bay funding

Restoration efforts in the Chesapeake Bay watershed received a boost in federal funding in the budget Congress passed last month.

Md. & IL bands perform on New Year’s in...

Bands from IL and Md. once again entertained thousands of people who lined the streets of London and Rome on New Year's Day.

Howard Co. sounds an under-staffing alarm

Teachers in a Md. district have filed a grievance over missing planning and lunch periods and, as a result, putting the most vulnerable students at risk.

Top 11 school stories of 2019

We find these 11 stories to have the greatest potential for influencing activity and direction in schools for the near future.

Girls’ volleyball champs in Illinois

We congratulate the Illinois state champions in girls' volleyball: Newark, St Teresa, Sterling, & Benet Academy.

A weekend of ‘band geeks’ across America

The musical Band Geeks was in performance at a MD high school, just as marching bands from across America named a national champion.

2 dead, 3 wounded in Calif. school shooting

Another school shooting has resulted in the death of 2 California high school students. The suspect shot himself and is in custody.

Mercury makes a transit; next in 2032

A transit of Mercury occurred today and was visible from the US, provided you had sunny skies. It was one of longest possible transits.

On the Naperville BWW racist incident

A racist incident at a Naperville, IL, sports bar indicates that the threads of racism are strong, perhaps as strong as ever.

IL bill could excuse absences to vote

A proposed law in IL could give students up to two hours during the school day so they could vote in the upcoming election.