Asleep at the desk: How school begins for many Michigan teens

“District administrators at the time said they would continue to look for ways to push start times to 8 a.m. The move drew considerable online comment from parents, some faulting the board for taking such timid steps toward a later start time. But there were doubts about moving the start of school back as well, including this comment: “The schools don’t need to alter their schedules for our high school students. The students need to suck it up and manage themselves. After all, who will do this for them after they graduate from high school? 80% of life is just showing up.”

Brown University sleep researcher Carskadon told Bridge that entrenched skepticism about the science of sleep continues to impede widespread adoption of later school start times. She said the debate is often shaped by what’s convenient for adults rather what’s best for learning. “This kind of, ‘Suck it up, Buttercup’ approach is really not well informed. It’s not useful and it’s not a public health strategy. The job of adolescents isn’t just to show up. They have work to do. They need to learn. They need to grow their brains. This matters a lot. If they are wandering through school half awake, it isn’t going to be successful.”

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