Wednesday, November 26, 2014
FAIRFIELD-SUISUN, CALIFORNIA
99 CENTS

Later school start is a boost for teens

By
March 18, 2014 |

A growing number of public school administrators are capitulating to the obvious — that it is better for teenagers to get extra sleep at home than in the classroom. It’s about time.

It has taken several decades for them to come to that position although one suspects that they have known all along that starting the high school day an hour later is more suitable to teenage biological needs and enhances performance through, among other things, improved attentiveness. After all, studies over several decades have repeatedly verified this. I’ve been advocating it for that long.

A University of Minnesota study 15 or so years ago, proved fairly conclusively that just the small change to meet the sleeping habits of 13- to 18-year-olds, made a difference in their learning curve. The Minnesota researchers recently followed up with a study of eight high schools in three states before and after they changed their schedules to later start times that showed marked improvement in several areas, including mental health, standardized tests, attendance and even car crash statistics.

Among the first to realize the significance of starting later were school systems in Connecticut, North Carolina, Kentucky and, of course, Minnesota. Recent converts to the idea include systems in Georgia, California, Oklahoma, and New York. A half -dozen school boards in metropolitan areas like Seattle, Montgomery County, Md., and Fairfax, Va., also are moving in that direction.

Then why has acceptance of the idea been so illusive? The answer is simple. The current model of ringing the first bell at 7:30 or even earlier in some cases better suits the parents, teachers and their bosses. In other words, this never really has been about what’s best for the students especially in a culture when both parents work, bus routes are often long and complex and after-school activities demand an early finish to the classroom day. Then there is the homework argument that if you let them come in an hour later the amount of time needed for homework is cut short on the other end.

This claim, however, has always seemed specious considering that one of the reasons for pushing back the start time is because teenagers generally stay up later. It’s a hormone thing that keeps them alert until 11 p.m. or even beyond. Shorting them on the morning side is not a good idea as most parents can tell you. But once again the daily demands of our society frequently interfere.

From my experience in raising three boys and a girl, the evidence is irrefutable. When school started later for whatever reason, the boys were much easier to deal with. Their sister had an amazing ability to get to bed earlier but all clearly performed better when they had at least seven to eight hours of sleep. When they went off to college, they scheduled their first classes of the day with that in mind.

A side benefit to the later start, according to the Minnesota study that included 9,000 students in three states, was a decline in depression, the use of alcohol, drugs and consumption of caffeine in comparison to those teenagers who had less sleep. According to the report the results were the same across the board with no difference in mental health outcomes between poor kids from the inner-city and affluent ones.

This is a nation that spends untold amounts of money on trying to find ways to improve its public schools while often ignoring the relatively simple solutions that are available. Teaching boys and girls separately for instance acknowledges what most veteran teachers at least and certainly parents understand; that the two sexes learn at a different pace and respond to different stimuli. Yet the resistance to this approach, based on a phony social equality policy and that it costs too much has stymied it for years. It is a case where separate may be more equal than not. Once again concern for the student seems not to be in the mix.

Fortunately for the teenagers who are just beginning their high school careers, the move is toward giving them a better chance for success by allowing them a crucial hour of extra slumber to meet their biological needs. If it requires some schedule juggling and rearranging of adult time, it will be well worth it. There is ample evidence of that. The benefit far outweighs other considerations.

Dan Thomasson is an op-ed columnist for McClatchy-Tribune and a former vice president of Scripps Howard Newspapers. Readers may send him email at: thomassondan@aol.com.

Dan K. Thomasson

LEAVE A COMMENT

Discussion | No comments

The Daily Republic does not necessarily condone the comments here, nor does it review every post. Read our full policy

  • Recent Articles

  • Enter your email address to subscribe and receive notifications of new posts by email.

  • .

    Solano News

     
    Groups distribute Thanksgiving food

    By Ryan McCarthy | From Page: A1, 3 Comments | Gallery

     
     
    County fair proposal, budget topics of scrutiny

    By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A3 | Gallery

    Police: Vehicle burglaries not new for Fairfield

    By Susan Hiland | From Page: A3

     
    Library schedules soap-making program

    By Glen Faison | From Page: A4

     
    Vacaville PD seeks VIPS program volunteers

    By Glen Faison | From Page: A4

     
    Fairfield police offer free gun locks

    By Ian Thompson | From Page: A4, 1 Comment

     
    Fairfield police investigate shooting

    By Susan Hiland | From Page: A4

     
    Science comes to libraries – for all to see

    By Glen Faison | From Page: A5

    Soroptimists seek award applicants

    By Glen Faison | From Page: A5

     
     
    Nichols plans free family concert in Napa

    By Glen Faison | From Page: A7

    Church’s holiday soiree on Vacaville calendar

    By Glen Faison | From Page: A7

     
    Suisun City police log: Nov. 24, 2014

    By Susan Hiland | From Page: A9

     
    Fairfield police log: Nov. 23, 2014

    By Glen Faison | From Page: A9

    Fairfield police log: Nov. 22, 2014

    By Glen Faison | From Page: A9

     
    Suisun City police log: Nov. 23, 2014

    By Glen Faison | From Page: A9, 1 Comment

    Suisun City police log: Nov. 22, 2014

    By Glen Faison | From Page: A9

     
    Weather for Nov. 26, 2014

    By Daily Republic | From Page: B12

    .

    US / World

     
    Anger at Ferguson case based on emotion, evidence

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A1, 5 Comments

    Tough to make a case against police in shootings

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

     
    Protesters return to riot-scarred Ferguson streets

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A1, 1 Comment

    In Seattle, tofu turkeys get Thanksgiving pardons

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A2, 1 Comment

     
    Los Angeles freeway sign unveiled with typo

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

    Heirloom ring flushed; sewer workers retrieve it

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

     
    Ohio family recovers missing Sasquatch statue

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

    Auction fetches $28K for 1st batch of new bourbon

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

     
    Agreement: LA jails to improve wheelchair access

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

    Window washer fights for life after 11-story fall

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

     
    Oakland police arrest more than 40 protesters

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

    Lawmakers target Golden Gate Bridge sidewalk fee

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A6, 1 Comment

     
    Cosby philanthropy shadowed by sexual allegations

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

    Arkansas, Mississippi gay marriage bans overturned

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A10, 1 Comment

     
    Calorie count to appear with many prepared foods

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

    8 shoes of Holocaust victims stolen in Poland

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A11

     
    Activists: Syrian strikes kill 60 in IS-held city

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A11

    AP sources: Top candidate for defense job bows out

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A11, 2 Comments

     
    WWII Museum opening new pavilion in New Orleans

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A11

    Police: Students ran high school prostitution ring

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A11

     
    Wet basements in Buffalo as flooding fears ease

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A11

    Soldiers to spend Thanksgiving in Ebola isolation

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A11

     
    2 teen female bombers kill more than 40 in Nigeria

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A11

    Official: Afghan president orders military review

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A12

     
    .

    Opinion

     
    Senate staff cuts reduce transparency

    By Dan Walters | From Page: A8

     
    Hagel: The fall guy

    By David Rothkopf | From Page: A8

    .

    Living

    Community Calendar: Nov. 25, 2014

    By Susan Hiland | From Page: A2

     
    Community Calendar: Nov. 26, 2014

    By Susan Hiland | From Page: A2

    Today in History: Nov. 26, 2014

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

     
    Horoscope for Nov. 26, 2014

    By Holiday Mathis | From Page: B5

    The man I’m seeing makes no effort to get to know my kids

    By Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar | From Page: B5

     
    A do-ahead cornmeal biscuit to sop up your gravy

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B6

     
    Fresh take on an herb-roasted Thanksgiving turkey

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B6

    Turn turkey leftovers into a healthy dinner salad

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B6

     
    .

    Entertainment

    TVGrid

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A7

     
    ‘Birdman’ leads Spirit Awards nominations

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

    .

    Sports

    Red Sox bring in Sandoval, Hanley Ramirez

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

     
    Vacaville Christian wins 3-0, advances to state quarterfinals

    By Marcus Lomtong | From Page: B1 | Gallery

    Curry powers Warriors past Heat 114-97

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

     
    49ers rookies shine in big roles, out of necessity

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

    Cousins, Kings beat Pelicans 99-89

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

     
    NFL, union discuss personal conduct policy

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

    Bama, FSU, Oregon, Miss St keep playoff rankings

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

     
    Messi sets European record with 74 goals

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

    Judge OKs Hernandez trial delay in 2012 killings

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

     
    Kurt Busch wins delay of Delaware court hearing

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

    Giants third base coach Tim Flannery retires

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

     
    AP source: Left-hander Jon Lester, Giants to meet

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

    Pats are unanimous No. 1 in AP Pro32 rankings

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

     
    .

    Business

    Rain, snow could mess up Thanksgiving travel

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B7

     
    New iPhones push Apple’s market cap past $700B

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B7

    Twitter lets merchants offer deals to its users

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B7

     
    US economy posts even stronger growth in Q3

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B7

    Thanksgiving travel woes? There’s an app for that

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B7

     
    US home price gains slow for 10th straight month

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B7

    Barbie dethroned by Team Elsa

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B7

     
    .

    Obituaries

    Esther Ringler

    By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

     
    Glenita Reyes McLaughliin

    By Daily Republic | From Page: A4

    Leslie “Esi” Gros

    By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

     
    .

    Comics

    For Better or Worse

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

     
    Beetle Bailey

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

    Baldo

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

     
    Dilbert

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

    Peanuts

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

     
    Baby Blues

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

    Pickles

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

     
    Zits

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

    Sally Forth

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

     
    Rose is Rose

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

    Get Fuzzy

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

     
    Frank and Ernest

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

    B.C.

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

     
    Blondie

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

    Garfield

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

     
    Wizard of Id

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

    Bridge

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

     
    Word Sleuth

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

    Cryptoquote

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

     
    Sudoku

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5