Saturday Mailbox

SATURDAY MAILBOX

March 27, 2004

Early bedtime helps teen-agers meet school bell

The Sun's article "School bells exacting a toll" (March 21) clearly exemplifies that the art of parenting has been lost on many parents.

My wife and I have a novel approach to our school-age children: The children are sent to bed early every school night to ensure adequate rest. My 16-year-old sophomore is tucked in every night at 9 p.m.

Does anyone remember Benjamin Franklin's saying, "Early to bed and early to rise"?

As a teen-ager, I lived in East Baltimore and commuted to Baltimore Polytechnic Institute. Classes started at 7:15 a.m. and the bus commute took approximately 45 minutes. To get to classes on time, it was necessary that I walk for one-quarter mile to get to the bus stop no later than 6:30 a.m.

That meant that I had to awaken at 5 a.m. every day. Sleep deprivation was surmounted because my parents put me in bed every night at a reasonable hour, as I do with my children.

This is not a child problem or a school problem. This is a parent problem - and you cannot legislate parenting.

Ernst Clasing

Baltimore

As a mother of three teen-agers, ages 14, 17 and 18, I wondered why no one in the article "School bells exacting a toll" mentioned the obvious solution to teen-agers not getting enough sleep: Send them to bed earlier.

As parents, it is our job to help our children learn how to make good, appropriate and healthy choices before they leave our homes.

Although an early bedtime may not be easy to implement, it is certainly easier than changing entire school systems.

Lauren Magnuson

Baltimore

Obviously, getting sufficient sleep is a good start for being alert and receptive to the school or work day. Unfortunately, the most glaring omission from the article "School bells exacting a toll" was any mention of what time these sleepy teen-agers went to bed the night before.

I think the parents in the examples provided should look into the sleep, eating and exercise habits of their teen-age children instead of letting their children's complaints of having to get up in the morning influence change of policy.

Darkness in the morning or evening is an event the world has to deal with. Teen-agers better deal with it now or they will not find a sympathetic ear in the business world.

Charles Herr

Baltimore

Starting school later wouldn't add to rest

As a 15-year-old sophomore at Owings Mills High School, I feel that the school day should start and end at the times it does now ("School bells exacting a toll," March 21).

I wake up at 6 a.m. every morning and my bus picks me up at 7 a.m. I usually get 8 1/2 hours of sleep, and even though I might be tired when I wake up, I would much rather get home at 2:30 p.m. and have the rest of the day to enjoy.

I do my homework and then have the rest of the day to get exercise and hang out with friends. In the fall and winter, I participate in after-school sports.

When I was in elementary school, I caught the bus at 8:45 a.m. but I wouldn't get home until after 4:10 p.m. I would have hardly any time to complete my homework before my 5 p.m. baseball games.

As an elementary school student who had to work on assignments late into the night, I was not happy.

If the school start times are pushed back, it would cause children to get even less sleep, because if after-school activities had to start later, children would get home later, causing them to stay up late to complete homework.

Jon Marcus

Owings Mills

Money isn't top issue for the city's schools

In his letter "Now's the time for fiscal reform of city schools" (March 20), Greater Baltimore Committee President Donald C. Fry suggests that the Baltimore public school system be run like a corporation.

The real problem? It already is.

A corporation's primary purpose is not to provide a quality product but to spend as little as possible on producing a product to make a profit.

What the school system needs is the opposite approach. Instead of looking to the bottom line, we should be determining what our children's needs are and providing enough money to meet those needs.

Mr. Fry believes the most important challenge for the city schools is to find ways to cut spending. On the contrary, the most important challenge is to create a quality education for all of our children.

And while Mr. Fry is rightly concerned with the lack of fiscal accountability in the school system, the slash-and-burn strategy of cutting school workers he advocates is not going to solve that problem.

Instead of the school board being politically appointed by corporate-financed politicians, we need one that is run by those most concerned with education - parents, teachers and students (which would give them a real sense of democracy).

Such a democratic school board would ensure more vigilant oversight of the budget.

Michael Melick

Baltimore

The writer teaches English as a second language in Baltimore's public schools.

Most Md. horses never see a track

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