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Teen Voice - 11/27/2011

Solution: Start School Later
updated: Nov 26, 2011, 8:45 AM

By Kelsey Abkin

We live in a country that prides itself on education, and not just the availability of it but its value. We thrive to make it the best it can possibly be, but lately it is not living up to our expectations. America's students are not testing to the level they should be and it seems fairly obvious one of the answers lies in the fact of what time each morning we start school. Every morning I drag myself out of bed, glossy-eyed, and half-asleep to attend classes in which I am supposed to perform to my greatest ability. This just doesn't seem right.

I'm sure it seems contrived that a teenager would be arguing in favor of starting school later in the day, but it is not just the childish opinion of a teenager that supports this claim. There are many valid reasons as to why starting school early does far more harm than good.

1) According to research by the National Sleep Foundation, 80% of kids are falling short of the amount of sleep recommended. There is no vital enough reason to put the vast majority of America's students in jeopardy for school starting an hour earlier.

2) You might be thinking, if waking up is such a problem, why not go to sleep earlier? The answer lies in the science that teenagers' body clocks are set to a schedule that is different from that of any other time in our lives. This prevents us from dropping off until around 11 p.m., when we produce the sleep-inducing hormone melatonin. With this in mind, it is hard to fight the reality that for once, it is not us teenagers at fault for our lack of sleep, but the school systems.

3) Starting later also means safer roads. Driving to school in the morning, I find it hard to stay alert, and this isn't safe considering this is when the roads are busiest.

4) Lastly, but most importantly, starting school later would improve teenagers academic performance. Schools in Minnesota and Kentucky tested this theory and found that it did improve the student's test scores and also their attitudes. Walking into a class well rested gives you a sense of attentiveness, making the day ahead seem a lot more achievable.

It's time for us teenagers to throw out our once necessary morning cup of coffee and get a healthy nights' sleep. More sleep leads to a clearer mind and therefore a clearer future. As America scrambles to solve the issue of a failing education, the answer seems rather obvious; start school later.

Kelsey Abkin is a junior at Santa Barbara High School. She loves to write and aspires to be a journalist someday.


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