It is a morning ritual across much of America. Parents struggle in the gray of dawn to get kids off to school, fatigued students doze at their desks and teachers ponder a weary class as that first bell rings. Should early-bird start times be scuttled at the nation’s schools? It’s complicated. Over the years, the major argument against such a move has been the sheer cost of changing student transportation plans to accommodate a later start to the school day. New research, however, pushes back on the claim with some dollar signs.
A new Rand Corp. study shows that delaying school start times to 8:30 a.m. would contribute $83 billion to the U.S. economy within a decade, increasing to $140 billion after 15 years. More sleep is the key, the researchers reason. The projected economic gains would emerge through “higher academic and professional performance” of students who are getting more shut-eye. Reduced rates of auto mishaps among more rested adolescent drivers is also among the many factors.
“For years we’ve talked about inadequate sleep among teenagers being a public health epidemic, but the economic implications are just as significant. From a policy perspective, the potential implications of the study are hugely important. The significant economic benefits from simply delaying school start times to 8.30 a.m. would be felt in a matter of years, making this a win-win, both in terms of benefiting the public health of adolescents and doing so in a cost-effective manner,” says Wendy Troxel, a Rand behavioral and social scientist.
There’s interest out there. The California state Senate’s Education Committee approved a bill in February that would require the school day for middle and high schools to begin no earlier than 8:30 a.m., the change to be implemented by 2020.
Both the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Medical Association already recommend that students start class no earlier than 8:30 a.m. to accommodate the known biological influences in adolescent sleep-wake schedules. This is not the case in most states. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 82 percent of middle and high schools in the U.S. currently begin before 8:30 a.m., with an average start time of 8:03 a.m.
TUESDAY ASSIGNMENT: BANISH THE GRIDLOCK
The fact that Democratic lawmakers spent many hours obstructing and blocking President Trump’s judicial nominees and select legislation has not been forgotten.
As Congress rumbles back into the U.S. Capitol on Tuesday, conservative interest groups have made their wishes known. The Judicial Crisis Network, Concerned Women for America, Faith and Freedom Coalition, Concerned Veterans for America, Catholic Vote and the Susan B. Anthony List issued multiple statements on Monday urging the Democrats to can the obstruction.
“It is unacceptable that Democrats are abusing the rules of the Senate to create gridlock intended to stop President Trump from being able to appoint well-qualified judges to the federal bench. The American people elected President Trump in part because he promised to appoint judges who would interpret our Constitution the way the Founding Fathers intended,” declares Jenny Beth Martin, president and co-founder of the Tea Party Patriots.
“Democrats are creating gridlock to thwart the will of the American people, and Republicans must act to stop this outrage. Senate Republicans should support Oklahoma Sen. James Lankford’s proposed reforms that ensure nominees have plenty of time for floor debate — but restricts Democrats’ ability to cause gridlock and deny well-qualified judges an up-or-down vote,” she concludes.
REACHING FOR THE DPRK AUDIENCE
It is outreach to a very, very specific audience. The Broadcasting Board of Governors — the independent federal agency that oversees U.S. government-supported, international civilian media — is addressing the North Korean threat with some select media. There’s a new creative collaboration between the Voice of America and Radio Free Asia, aimed entirely at North Korean audiences.
The two broadcast networks have produced a video project “to counter North Korean government propaganda by showing North Koreans the reality of life outside the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea,” the agency says.
The fare tells America’s story by profiling Korean-Americans living in a community in New Jersey, and offering insight from North Korean defectors.
Their project comes at a pivotal time; multiple news accounts now suggest the rogue nation is becoming increasingly westernized. Based in Seoul, Chosun Media reports that new “mega shopping malls” have opened in the North’s capital, Pyongyang, and that high schools “now spend more time teaching English than Korean to students.”
A DACA VIGIL
Organizers say that hundreds of activists will gather outside the White House on Tuesday to await, they say, “President Donald Trump’s announcement on whether the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals — DACA — will continue.”
Eleven groups are participating in the event, including CASA, a national Hispanic interest group, plus two union organizations. At high noon, the assembly will march to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement headquarters some 10 blocks to the south of the White House.
They will likely have much support from famous folks on the West Coast. Outrage was so great among some Hollywood stars that Breitbart analyst Jerome Hudson was prompted to offer a review of angry tweets from actors Sarah Silverman, Rob Reiner and George Takei, among many.
“An end to this program now or in the next six months without a permanent solution is an attack on families, decency and American values. It’s going to throw these young people, who are working and contributing to our society, out on the streets and into the shadows,” observes Gustavo Torres, executive director of CASA.
POLL DU JOUR
• 86 percent of Americans say U.S. public schools should offer certificate programs that qualify students for employment in a given field.
• 82 percent say schools should help students be “cooperative, respectful of others, and persistent at solving problems.”
• 80 percent cite importance of technology and engineering classes.
• 76 percent cite importance of advanced academics; 71 percent cite importance of art and music classes, 70 percent cite extracurricular activities.
• 42 percent say student performance on standardized tests is important in judging school quality.
Source: A PDK/Langer Research poll of 1,588 U.S. adults conducted May 4-21 and released Friday.
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