A Growing Divide

I took a class called Economics of Gender, Family, and Work this semester which had a large impact on my view of federal policy and the policy making process. My understanding of welfare policy has never been so clear, and what I really learned is that the system we’ve instated to help the poor instead actively works to keep them down. That is definitely a conversation I’d like to save for later, as this post focuses on something different. Over break, I’ve been reading about existing and potential policies and I can’t help but find growing gaps between statistics and implemented policies which are meant to address such studies. This continues to baffle me.

I recently read an article by The Atlantic regarding the Center for Disease Control’s recommendation that schools should begin later in the day. Studies show that significant risks occur with lack of sleep, including higher obesity rates, depression, and a greater number of motor accidents. In most states, public schools begin before 8:30 am, whereas adolescents cannot actively learn until later in the day. It has been scientifically proven that adolescents have trouble falling asleep earlier in the day than for other ages; still, school continues to begin earlier as students grow older. Arguments do exist opposing this shift– people against later start times claim that this amended schedule would affect athletics and other extracurricular activities. As important as these activities are, I do not believe that they take precedence over academic performance, and especially not over the health of children. As such, it only seems reasonable that action is taken to delay the start times for school. Federal policy can’t be enacted across the board, for different school districts rely on different sources, including transportation companies, school boards, or superintendents, to decide upon school times. But why have no local policies been put forth?

If the researchers say so– if the science says so– then why doesn’t the policy follow?

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