California changes school start times. Is NJ next? (Opinion)
When California decided to mandate that schools begin later in the morning so the kids would have extra time to get “much-needed” sleep, I was dubious.
While it’s true that studies show that teenagers, as well as younger kids, don’t get enough sleep for their health, this new law mandating that schools begin no earlier than 8:30 for high school and 8 a.m. for younger kids is just a way to pander to whiny little brats who can’t get out of bed.
And what one liberal state does, other liberal states often follow. Legislators in Massachusetts have looked at the law with interest, as have lawmakers here in New Jersey. It’s a typical New Jersey move. Instead of realizing that kids aren’t going to use the extra time for any practical purpose, our lawmakers will probably look at this as a really good idea.
I look at some of the farm states in this country where kids arise before dawn to do their chores and make it to school on time. I also think of students who are ambitious enough to be Olympic hopefuls. They routinely practice at 5 a.m. and sometimes even earlier, and manage to get their homework done, get to school on time and somehow get in a decent nights sleep, to boot.
It sounds good to have a law like this that allows kids to sleep in a little. It feels good to people. But the reality is, kids are better off learning the discipline of getting up earlier because if they’re given a later start time for their day, many, if not most kids, will simply use that as an opportunity to stay up a little later playing video games, texting with their friends, smoking weed, or God knows what else.
Are we really doing kids a favor after generations of getting up early and being responsible by making life easier for them? Isn’t getting up early a really good discipline to learn? If we are so concerned about our kids' lack of sleep, how about as parents, we insist that they sleep a little earlier at night? But, you know Jersey. There’s not a family responsibility they won’t try to usurp if given the opportunity.
Opinions expressed in the post above are those of New Jersey 101.5 talk show host Judi Franco only.