When I was in college, the few times I was foolish enough to take classes that began before 9 a.m., I had trouble staying awake. It's a challenge for my teenaged daughter to get up and out of the house in time for classes that begin at 8:30. So I tend to agree with Nancy Kalish, who argues in a New York Times op-ed piece that it's a mistake to start high school at 7:30 or earlier, which has become common practice:
Research shows that teenagers' body clocks are set to a schedule that is different from that of younger children or adults. This prevents adolescents from dropping off until around 11 p.m., when they produce the sleep-inducing hormone melatonin, and waking up much before 8 a.m. when their bodies stop producing melatonin. The result is that the first class of the morning is often a waste, with as many as 28 percent of students falling asleep, according to a National Sleep Foundation poll. Some are so sleepy they don't even show up, contributing to failure and dropout rates.
Still, I have trouble with Kalish's suggestion that presidential candidates should seize upon high school starting times as a national issue. Is nothing local anymore?