As a high school teacher in the LAUSD I warmly applaud "A Later, Smarter Start" (editorial, Nov. 24), on shifting high schools to a later start time. I am heartened to hear of the evidence showing the effectiveness of later start times, and I plan to present this to the administration at my own school; the entire district should consider it.
Unfortunately, you inadvertently reinforce a popular misconception that I would like to correct. Although a teacher's teaching day may end at 3 p.m., a teacher's workday does not end for several more hours. Whether it's preparing lessons in the classroom or spending several hours grading papers over a desk at home, or both, I don't know a single teacher whose "workday" ends at 3 p.m. (and that's not counting coaches, drama teachers, etc., who often work for hours "after school" with their students).
That one little phrase reveals just how misinformed most people are regarding teachers' workloads. Just ask my long-suffering husband!
As early as 1997, the Minneapolis School District was attempting to align its classroom clocks with its students' biological clocks. The slight inconvenience of a later start time was more than made up for by improved attendance and higher test scores.
In our 24/7 society, it's easy to view sleep as a low priority. The lack of sleep can affect our physical, mental and emotional health at disturbing levels; beyond losing the ability to concentrate, make simple decisions or work productively are the more serious impacts on diabetes, aging, respiratory function and even body weight. As evidenced by teens in Minneapolis, and now Antelope Valley and Woodland, you sleep, you win! Let's hope the rest of the country, students and adults, gets the message as well.
Thank you, thank you, thank you for your editorial on later school hours! Every morning is agony in our house, and my teenage son tells me that he can hardly stay awake in his first-period class. It makes sense for students to start later and stay later. As you say, that eliminates the need for after-school programs and can lessen the dreaded teenage-mischief time between school's end and dinner.
I hope that schools take your proposal seriously and that our new state secretary of education, Richard Riordan, can see the good sense in pushing this idea.