Alison Ross, a top-notch education reporter at the Courier-Journal, raises a question in “Why are teens going to school so early? Research shows educators may need a wake-up call” that has interested me, too. Research has been accumulating for some time that shows the average teen’s bio clock isn’t well aligned to the standard school hours set by adults.
Ross goes through the pros and cons of making school hours more suitable for teens in considerable detail. Along the way, she points to research from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Medical Association among others that says the current school start time in many Kentucky high schools isn’t set properly for optimal teen functioning. In fact the early start hours might actually be downright harmful.
So, why isn’t our school system reacting to this research? Some reasons were offered to Ross, but it seems like this is mostly more about convenience for adults and resistance to any change rather than doing what is best for students. And, with some researchers like Kyla Wahlstrom, a senior research fellow at the University of Minnesota, declaring this is actually a public health crisis, it seems like more serious attention is needed though little seems to be happening.
So much for our schools being data-driven. Ditto for putting student needs first.