OTTUMWA — Don't wake your teenagers up so early in the morning. Let them sleep late — every day.
It may sound like an idea from a student essay entitled, "If I Were in Charge." Actually, the statement came out of Washington, D.C., according to an Associated Press report Wednesday.
U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan told an interviewer on National Public Radio that his "common sense" tells him teenagers are struggling to wake up early and make it to the buses. He says students who arrive at school rested and ready to learn do better.
Two students who spoke to the Courier after school Wednesday said they're all for the idea.
"I certainly agree with that one," said Bonnie Sullivan, a junior at Ottumwa High School. "Honestly, some students don't get to school on time because they [have trouble] waking up."
"Some kids fall asleep in class," added Katlyn Wagner-Bird, a freshman. "I'm sure that makes their grades lower."
So if the district allowed students to come in a little later?
"I'd definitely take advantage of that!" Bonnie said.
The principal would hate that idea, right?
"There have been studies on that for a while now," said Principal Mark Hanson. "I don't think any educator would be fundamentally against starting later. If it would benefit students, it'd be something to look into, just like year-round school would be something to look into, or making the school year longer, 200 days. These are ideas educators [discuss from time to time]."
It's important to note that the secretary's comments about starting high school later so kids can sleep late is not currently under discussion by the Ottumwa Board of Education. Yet telling tired kids to just go to bed earlier may not be the easy answer parents suspect it to be.