What Time Should School Start?

Teenagers whining about getting out of bed for school in the morning are actually on to something. High school start times are an outrageous burden. For the grownups, most of all.

You may have seen a number of news stories and academic research papers in recent years arguing that high school start times should be pushed back later in order to better match up with the natural sleep patterns of the growing teenager. The momentum for this issue is gathering. From the New York Times today:

Researchers at the University of Minnesota, funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, studied eight high schools in three states before and after they moved to later start times in recent years. In results released Wednesday they found that the later a school's start time, the better off the students were on many measures, including mental health, car crash rates, attendance and, in some schools, grades and standardized test scores.

I think all reasonable teenagers and adults can agree that starting at high school at seven-something-a.m. is fucking bananas. The teachers have to wake up for that shit too, you know. It's uncivilized. Normal office jobs start at 9 a.m. That should be the baseline starting point of our discussion. Then we should grow ever more civilized from there.

It's worth mentioning that the most important stakeholders in this conversation should be the adults who work in high schools. They're already forced to be around teenagers all day. That's hard enough. Must they also be forced to wake up at six in the fucking morning—just so the students in their classes can fall asleep? Nonsense. The only real thing that teenagers are required to do is to go to school. Who cares about their scheduling needs? The adults, though, they have actual obligations—kids, mortgages, thriving subterranean crystal meth businesses. So I propose that school begin at the civilized hour of 10 a.m., and continue until, I dunno, 5 p.m.? Get these kids the sleep they need. Also, get these kids used to the proper workaday drudgery schedule while they're still young. Train them like good robots. Keep em off the streets a couple hours later at night. Plus, let the teachers and other school workers have normal human schedules, and not superhuman schedules.

From 5 p.m. to midnight, the school features a variety of arts, athletics, and other extracurricular activities designed to distract teenagers until they turn 18, at which point we can put them into adult prisons. The teachers who supervise these activities should be paid overtime. Lots of it.

Alternate, less civilized suggestions for when to start school go in the Kinja™ discussion section below.

[Photo: AP]