Project Know starts with Robin, writes William Hicks. “A character that literally spends his nights running across roof tops, fighting bad guys and training with Batman in the Bat Cave. So how dare he shame us with his slim physique!”
Gohan, a powerful fighter eager to save the earth, is too muscular for Project Know. “Teens are unlikely to see their physique being reflected in his defined chest and arms that ripple with muscles.” Their version is flabbier.
Do kids really want their cartoon heroes to be realistic? Where’s the fun in that?
At the best high school in the U.S., according to U.S. News‘ rankings, the school day starts at 9:15 a.m. writes Lisa Lewis on Slate. The School for the Talented and Gifted in Dallas earned the top spot for the fifth year in a row.
Eight hours a night may be the goal for adults, but teens need between 8.5–9.5 hours, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. Unfortunately, few teens meet that minimum: Studies show that two out of three high school students get less than eight hours of sleep, with high school seniors averaging less than seven hours.
Sure, kids could go to bed earlier. But their bodies are set against them: Puberty makes it hard for them to fall asleep before 11 p.m. When combined with too-early start times, the result is sleep deprivation.
The AAP and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend that middle and high schools start at 8:30 a.m. or later. Less than 20 percent start that late. The average is 8:03 a.m., writes Lewis, whose son’s high school starts the day at 7:30 a.m.
In the fall, all Seattle high schools and most middle schools will start at 8:45 a.m. Most elementary schools, four K-8 schools and one middle school will start at 7:55 a.m., and the remaining elementary and K-8 schools will begin at 9:35 a.m.
Some parents don’t like late start times at elementary schools. It must be hard on working parents.
Skylar Relova, 15, left, and Bailey Smith, 14, meet Max, a therapy dog, in the San Ramon Valley High quad during the lunch period. Photo: Susan Tripp Pollard, Bay Area News Group
Student stress is worrying educators at top-performing Silicon Valley schools, reports Sharon Noguchi in the San Jose Mercury News. “They’re pushing back school start times, re-examining homework loads, coordinating tests and warning parents about buying into college myths.”
Two suicide clusters in Palo Alto have raised fears. Around the Bay Area, there are more reports of panic attacks and eating disorders, students cutting themselves, suicide attempts and other mental-health issues.
In a recent two-week period at Irvington High in Fremont, mental health authorities or parents were summoned because nine students were suffering so much distress they needed to be involuntarily confined for protection, assistant principal Jay Jackson said.
A (St. Louis University) survey last spring found 54 percent of Irvington students suffering from depression and 80 percent showing moderate to severe anxiety levels.
Students think their life is over if they don’t get into a “great college,” say counselors.
“The better you are, the better the college you get into, and the better your life will be,” said Ella Milliken, a sophomore at Los Altos High.
Palo Alto schools have “added counselors and trained staff to spot troubled students,” reports Noguchi.
San Ramon Valley High “staged a low-stress week” with hot breakfasts of quiche and oatmeal, supplied by parent volunteers, and therapy dogs at lunchtime. “Relaxing music wafted over the quad, where students did yoga” and “email was banned for a day.”
Four of the last nine Palo Alto teens to kill themselves were Asian and Asian youths have killed themselves in San Jose, Fremont and Contra Costa County in recent years. Palo Alto school and community leaders have started conversations on “parenting, expectations and a traditionally taboo topic — mental illness,” with Asian parents, Noguchi writes.
However, plans to ease pressure are controversial. Saratoga High considered limiting AP classes, but students and parents rejected the idea.
. . . a proposal to push back Saratoga High’s start time by nearly an hour, to 8:40 a.m., ran into furious opposition, especially from Asian parents. The idea was to coordinate times with the district’s other school, Los Gatos High, and to give students a chance to get more sleep — a benefit that some researchers tout as the single most effective tool to improve student health.
The plan, the product of monthslong research by a 28-member committee, was enthusiastically backed by many teachers and counselors, alarmed at rising stress disorders they see among students.
But the proposals were never publicly debated. And the committee itself, while intended to be broad-based, lacked Asian-American parents — even though Saratoga High is about three-fifths Asian. Criticism spread by social media saw the plan as an attack on academic rigor, in part by shaving five minutes from each class period.
Test scores are higher at Saratoga than Los Gatos, said parent Becky Wu. “Why ask Saratoga to match Los Gatos’ and not the other way around?”
Saratoga will compromise on a 8:15 a.m. start time.
The all-powerful U.S. News rankings reward colleges for selectivity, writes Alia Wong in The Atlantic. Mid-level colleges recruit students — including those they have no intention of admitting — to push up their rejection stats.
Doctors say teenagers need eight to 10 hours of sleep each night, but according to the National Sleep Foundation, 87 percent of high school students don’t get that much. That impairs their judgment and concentration and can cause anxiety, depression and even thoughts of suicide.
. . . Research has found that when kids become teenagers, their circadian rhythm – or internal biological clock – shifts to a later time, making them biologically inclined to fall asleep about two hours later than they used to.
But waking up early to get to school on time cuts off their deepest and most productive hours of sleep.
Students think the way to learn is to stay up late and cram, said Nora Siegler, 17, a student at Menlo-Atherton High near Stanford. “I think the biggest takeaway from the lecture was how vital sleep is for memory retention and consolidation of memory.”
Some high schools are pushing back start times so students can get more sleep. “Nearly 10% of U.S. high schools currently start before 7:30 a.m., 40% before 8 a.m., and only about 15% after 8:30 a.m.,” writes Terra Ziporyn Snider of Start School Later. Some teens must wake at 5 or 6 a.m. to catch a school bus. Middle and high school students build up a “huge sleep debt every week of the school year.”
When my daughter was in high school, she’d sleep 12 hours or longer on weekends to catch up.
The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will conduct an epidemiological study of teen suicides in affluent Palo Alto, reports Sharon Noguchi in the San Jose Mercury News. Four high school students took their own lives in 2014 and 2015 and six killed themselves in 2009 and 2010. Most stepped in front of a train.
Hanna Rosin write about the “Silicon Valley suicides” in the December Atlantic.
In response to the suicides and concern about student stress, Palo Alto “schools are starting later so that students can get more sleep,” writes Noguchi. “Gunn High School students created a student support group. New fencing rims the Caltrain tracks. The school district and city have offered sessions on parenting and mental health issues. And counseling services have been expanded.”
The CDC conducted an “Epi-Aid” assessment last year in Fairfax County, Virginia, where “85 youths and young adults ages 10 through 24 killed themselves from September 2010 through October 2014,” she reports.
The CDC’s Fairfax study listed a variety of risk factors, including “parents’ pressure for success, parental denial of children’s mental health issues, high counselor-to-student ratios at school, the occasional cruelty of social media and the stigma of mental illness,” writes Noguchi. Media coverage of suicides may have encouraged suicidal behavior.
For years, Barbie’s come in different skin tones and hair styles. Now, little girls can play with a “curvy” (overweight) doll, as well as petite and tall models, reports Eliana Dockterman in Time.
That’s supposed to help girls develop realistic expectations of what the human body looks like. “We believe we have a responsibility to girls and parents to reflect a broader view of beauty,” said Evelyn Mazzocco, a Mattel senior vice president and global general manager of Barbie, in a statement.
Will Pudgy Ken be next?
However, Mattel’s tests showed little girls are not leading the fat acceptance movement, writes Dockterman She visited Mattel’s testing center, where a six-year-old girl gave the new Curvy Barbie a voice.
“Hello, I’m a fat person, fat, fat, fat,”
. . . When an adult comes into the room and asks her if she sees a difference between the dolls’ bodies, she modifies her language. “This one’s a little chubbier,” she says.
. . . A shy 7-year-old refuses to say the word fat to describe the doll, instead spelling it out, “F, a, t.”
“I don’t want to hurt her feelings,” she says a little desperately.
“We see it a lot. The adult leaves the room and they undress the curvy Barbie and snicker a little bit,” says Tania Missad, who runs the research team for Mattel’s girls portfolio.
Most of the girls Dockterman observed chose their favorite doll based on hair, she writes. “A curvy, blue-haired doll that many girls dub Katy Perry is by far the most popular. But when asked which doll is Barbie, the girls invariably point to a blonde.”
Though she’s a billion-dollar brand, Barbie has been losing market share, writes Dockterman. “Hasbro won the Disney Princess business away from Mattel, just as Elsa from the film Frozen dethroned Barbie as the most popular girl’s toy.”
Elsa is thin — but “she comes with a backstory of strength and sisterhood.” And she’s got her own movie.