California will be the first state to mandate later school start times (“California becomes first state in the country to push back school start times,” Los Angeles Times, Oct. 14). The decision is based on research showing that teenage students who begin school later increase academic performance, attendance and overall health.
That is probably true, but in a state as geographically diverse as California, I think the decision should be left to local districts. Needs of local communities differ. For example, rural school districts have different needs than urban school districts in terms of what is best for them. The same thing applies to other states.
When I taught English in the Los Angeles Unified School District, I remember how tired seniors were in my first period composition class that began a few minutes after 8:00. Whether starting school later that morning would mean that they wouldn’t stay up later the night before, however, is unclear. Rather than make all public schools permanently comply, I suggest a one-year trial period.
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