Letter: School board is wasting taxpayer money pursuing later start times

Thank you, Mike Mignano, for properly deploring the hysterical continuation of efforts to change school start times.
As a parent to three Ridgefield graduates, I am confident they were not impeded by rising at times practiced by humans for millennia. As a taxpayer, I am incensed that the BOE is wasting my money continuing to pursue what has been roundly rejected, including ideas that would raise my taxes.
As a senior practitioner in experimental design and statistical inference, I would add to Mike’s excellent case that late-start pleas are based on junk science:

  • The supporting claims that I have seen use small-sample anecdotes.
  • None use properly designed randomized trials like we require before approving pharmaceuticals or even changing production methods. We should require at least as much before mass experimentation on our children and raiding our pocketbooks.
  • Because our biological clocks can’t read the arbitrary labels on clocks, if there were any diurnal effects, then performance would be worse during daylight saving time because our brain would be cued as if schools were starting an hour earlier. That would not be a dispositive result, but it would certainly be a necessary one.
  • Similarly, schools located just west of a time-zone line would perform worse than those just to the east with the same clock-time start because, in solar time, they are starting an hour earlier.
  • And, of course, the hysterics ignore the contrary evidence, such as a recent article in The Lancet, the world’s oldest general medicine journal. At the molecular neural level, any potential benefits are quickly overcome by the normal resetting of the internal biological clock to the new start time. Changing bedtime behavior, however, can reset the internal clock to assure adequate sleep before early rising.
    In Mike’s words: “Enough is enough.”

John Early

Fieldcrest Drive, Nov. 23

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