Of trying to rouse teen-agers for school and...


November 18, 1995

PARENTS WEARY of trying to rouse teen-agers for school and teachers who despair of keeping the attention of adolescents in those early classes can take comfort that science recognizes their uphill battle.

Young people, researchers say, need lots of sleep to support the rapid growth their bodies are experiencing. Their biological clocks tend to make it difficult for them to rise early and, sometimes, hard to go to sleep at a reasonable hour.

It seems obvious: Sleep-deprived students are not going to perform as well early in the morning. Why start classes at some schools before 8 a.m.?

Because budget pressures make it necessary to use school buses and drivers for more than one run, and parents prefer that younger children not be required to wait in the dark early morning hours. Shifting all school hours later could interfere with parents' work schedules.

Solving this problem is not impossible. School schedules -- not just starting times, but also the length of time spent at school -- are a long-overlooked target for reform. Surely educators could find a way to accommodate the legitimate need of teen-agers to get more sleep. To do otherwise is self-defeating.

CITY COUNCIL President-elect Lawrence Bell has a legitimate beef in criticizing Mayor Kurt Schmoke's choice of Vera Hall as his council liaison. Mrs. Hall not only ran for the presidency against Mr. Bell, she has long been a Bell critic.

Mr. Bell says Mrs. Hall's appointment breaches a pact he had with the mayor to start a fresh relationship. It certainly looks that way. Mrs. Hall says she and Mr. Bell both want to work for the best interest of Baltimore. But that was also the case on the council -- and they still feuded. Mrs. Hall may simply try to bypass Mr. Bell when attempting to get the council to act on administration bills.

Adding to the insult, Mrs. Hall will be paid $60,000 a year for part-time work. She'll make as much as the mayor does now -- and $7,000 more than what the current council president is paid.

That's an outrage and affront, not just to Mr. Bell but to city taxpayers and voters.

YOU THINK Marylanders are scared of snow? They're Arctic explorers compared to Dutch Ruppersberger, the Baltimore County executive.

This man is so scared of the fluffy white stuff, he called a press conference on Tuesday, with only a limited threat of snow in the forecast, to "review and discuss" snow removal plans and to unveil the county's new snow center.

He's a fast-learner. Two years ago, he watched how a botched response to a major winter storm helped unseat his predecessor, Roger Hayden. Last winter, Mr. Rupperberger's initial act as executive was touring the salt yards to ensure an adequate supply. This week he was employed a pre-storm media blitz.

The Baltimore County executive is savvy to be prepared for Mother Nature, who long predates H. Ross Perot as a political independent to be reckoned with.

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