Altering hours teaches wrong value

Tuesday’s issue of the St. Petersburg Times called for a later start time for high school. According to the Times, deferring the first bell till 8:30 a.m. or later may be beneficial to the learning process.

The article’s claims come from research that “show(s) that teenagers’ body clocks are set to a schedule that is different from that of younger children or adults.” Consequently, teenagers should be allowed to sleep in so they don’t nod off in their first class.

As much as I dislike waking up early for 8 a.m. classes, it is hard for me to agree with this stance.

It’s bad enough that they’ve lowered the standards in just about every other facet of education. They’ve switched tests from essays to multiple choice to accommodate overflowing classes. Now, they want to tell students it’s OK to go to bed late because the system will accommodate their needs.

The goal of education is to prepare children for the real world. In a world where victimization seems to be the easiest way out, how are we preparing them by making such a change?

The message is loud and clear to me: “Students, sleep in. It’s not your fault! You’re the victim of having the body of a teenager! However, once you graduate high school – and you’re still a teenager – the rule won’t apply. There’s not much that can be done outside of school. Take the research to your boss. Maybe she or he will buy into it.”

Of course, more issues are at stake with the time change than catering to teenagers’ “bodily” needs.

Many parents drive their children to school. My mother drove me every morning. There were times when she couldn’t take me because she had to be at work early. It was a hassle to find someone to take me because I went to a private school with no bus transportation. What would happen to students like me? What about those who live within the five-mile radius but are too young to walk to school?

And what about the release time? If students began classes later, they would also have to stay later. That would defeat the purpose delaying the entrance time. Arriving home at a later time would mean students couldn’t begin their homework until later. That, in turn, would delay the time when their homework was finished, sending them to bed later.

I know I sound pessimistic, and that I’m viewing the issue from a slippery-slope perspective. This time, however, that just might be the case.

Naturally, the Times not only believes schools should change their schedules, they also believe the school day should be longer in order to accommodate homework time.

Now I’m confused. At this rate, they should cut physical education because it hurts students’ egos when they lose, put the music program on hold because not enough students have an interest in it, and switch lunch programs because the students continue to choose Coke over water. Oh wait – they’ve already done that.

Wouldn’t it be easier to just extend the school day? I went to school for 8 hours a day; a little extreme, I know, but I did attend a magnet school. Yet I had plenty of time to do homework – at home – and still make it to class the next morning.

If previous generations could go to school so early, why can’t this one? This “accommodation” would just continue to breed a generation steeped in the culture of victimization.

Society continues to decline because many people believe that no one is responsible for his or her behavior. There are always more reasons being generated to pass the blame.

Is it OK for you to be late for work because you have three kids at home to deal with? Last time I checked, it wasn’t.

This should be no different.

Cynthia D. Roldan is a senior majoring in mass communications.