Here is the op-ed I wrote for our local online newspaper. My hope is that it will get people in my community thinking and talking about homework as an issue that impacts not only kids, but families, and generate enough buzz to get our school district to take notice.
I wanted to talk briefly here about homework as a matter of policy. In my own district, it’s completely up in the air whether homework is mandated or discretionary. Some teachers believe that they are mandated by the district to assign homework to their students – even though sometimes those same teachers decide not to assign homework for a week or two at a time under special circumstances (like during conference week, or the week before an extended holiday break, or whatnot). Even our school board can’t seem to make its collective mind up about it; I’ve been told by one board member that teachers are “expected” to assign homework, and by another that it’s discretionary. (I’m not convinced that “expected” is the same as “mandated” anyway.)
In any case, let’s think about a policy that actually does mandate homework. Making homework mandatory as a matter of policy – basically, mandating homework for the sake of homework – what is that about? That’s saying “We will assign homework to every child, because it’s good for them. Kids need homework.” No discussion, no contemplation, no weighing of facts or research. Just a stubborn adherence to a principle.
What does this accomplish? It seems to me that it only refuses to see children as individuals, or even teachers as individuals. It’s foisting a one-size-fits-all policy on everyone with the idea that it works for everyone, it serves everyone, and we, the parents, must make sure it does just that.