Friday, November 22, 2019
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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

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.

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