While I will never be able to say that I walked uphill both ways to school completely barefoot in 10 feet of snow, I may be able to brag as a senior citizen that the first bell of the school day rang at a bright and early 7:30 a.m.
Schools across the country are beginning to shift high school start times later into the morning, some as late as 9 a.m. The idea behind the whole process is that allowing the students to sleep in will make them more alert and help them get better grades and test scores overall.
This is where I step in to formally disagree.
As it stands, high school students are already under enough pressure trying to maintain a high GPA, join extracurricular activities, participate in sports and volunteer time to their community. They do all this hoping that these hours taken away from their time to just be kids will guarantee them a spot, and hopefully a scholarship, at their dream colleges.
Removing time from their busy days to allow high school students to “sleep in” will eliminate time that they could spend doing something, well, actually productive. If a school day doesn’t start until 9 a.m., it is safe to assume that it won’t end until around 3:30 p.m., maybe even 4 p.m. This means that most students would immediately be headed to sports practices, clubs, music ensemble practices and after school jobs, neglecting the time in between that could have previously been used for homework.
Some schools have spoken up and initiated what they think is a solution to this — Wi-Fi on buses! Although it’s a cute idea, I have to say that I doubt the students are actually doing homework on the buses. Who could with all the distractions going on all around them? Instead, the school boards have just enabled the students with another form of procrastination.
It seems that as time goes on, while dealing with high school students, we as a society have begun to cater to, for lack of better words, the bottom feeders. We’ve made the SATs easier, cut back on GPA requirements, overlooked the need for volunteer work and extracurriculars, and now we’re going to let students sleep in.
Although I’ve never been very fond of test scores and GPAs determining the worth of a person or his or her ability to succeed in a university setting, I would say that I do not support laziness or the inability to prioritize.
By implementing these changes, students will have to stay up later to complete homework, face the challenge of choosing an after-school job, extracurriculars of their choice, spending time with friends or just enjoying some free hours between the time school ends and homework time begins.
It seems that this later start time isn’t about the students at all, but instead is the plot of schools to get students to focus more on their in-class work and boost their overall standardized test scores. This will make the schools look better, rather than helping the students move toward their goals for their approaching futures.
Rather than letting students sleep in, it would be more fitting to allot some class time to homework. This would alleviate the need to spend hours of the night doing homework and allow the student enough time to go to bed at a decent hour — not that anyone is doing that, anyway.
Focusing on teaching students the necessary skills of organization, prioritizing and accountability would be much more beneficial than letting them sleep in and lose time during the afternoon and night. After all, most of us started our school days early in the morning, and I’d say we all turned out relatively normal.
Reach the columnist at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her on Twitter @mikayrodr