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With school start time, do what’s best for teens, not adults

To the editor:

I have been following with interest the discussion about changing the start time for high school. I have been struck by how much the people who object to the change sound like climate change deniers. They deny the “inconvenient truth” that research shows we must change our longtime habits if we want our teenagers to get the maximum benefit out of attending school.

My son loved school and was an excellent student. However, every morning it was a battle to get him out of bed and off to school. My daughter’s teachers complained that discussions in first period were always limited because the students were so sleepy.

I have worked for many years with at-risk students — young people who do poorly in school and are likely to drop out.

Unlike my children, they are not highly motivated to do well, and they tend to have parents who do not push them to be successful in school as much as I pushed my children. Getting up before their biological clocks say they are ready makes going to school even more difficult.

As tardies increase, they become marked as absences. More absences means less chance for success and graduation.

Change is always hard, but sometimes, as in this instance, it is necessary.

School is for learning. If we care about our schools and our students, we must pay attention to what research tells us about how to give each student the optimal opportunity for learning, even if it inconveniences us. It is about what is best for our teenagers, not us adults.

Pauline M. Bassett


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