The reports are out, and kids, especially teens, officially need more sleep, which translates to a necessary later start time for schools. The American Academy of Pediatrics is saying what teachers have known for years, yet administrators, school boards, and some politicians across the country are setting the morning bell to ring earlier and earlier to extend school days to get more seat time. The real goal? Extending the school day to cram more test prep into kids’ brains so they’re all the more ready for those assessments. We can only hope that those people pushing for educational reform listen to the doctors, since they haven’t been listening to the teachers. Too bad we can guess where this will go… in one ear and right out the other, along with everything else that is good for kids but bad for business.
“The research is clear that adolescents who get enough sleep have a reduced risk of being overweight or suffering depression, are less likely to be involved in automobile accidents, and have better grades, higher standardized test scores and an overall better quality of life,” says Dr. Judith Owens, director of sleep medicine at Children’s National Medical Center in Washington, who led the team that wrote the group’s policy statement on the issue.
Since when are doctors concerned about higher standardized tests scores? And, what I find even more disturbing is the fact that the phrase “higher standardized test scores” is in the same sentence as “an overall better quality of life.” I’m not attacking this doctor, because her research is valid, and she clearly is reporting in the best interests of students. But, this is a perfect example of all that is wrong with the current national discussion on public education.
Image via Flickr by Jose Vicente Jimenez Riba