AirTalk for April 4, 2012

How does LAUSD's homework policy affect your family?

Government Plans Education Summit

Sean Gallup/Getty Images

A fourth-grade student works on homework in the elementary school at the John F. Kennedy Schule dual-language public school on September 18, 2008 in Berlin, Germany.

Like death and taxes, homework has long been a standard feature of life, for public education students, anyway.

Homework’s unlikely to go away any time soon, but the ongoing debate about the proper amount and the impact it should have a student’s grade is heating up in L.A. Unified schools and beyond.

Last summer, the Los Angeles Unified School District implemented a new policy allowing homework to count for only 10 percent of a student’s grade. But that policy was quickly suspended after parents and teachers complained that they hadn’t been consulted. So the district held a series of community meetings over the past several weeks, in an effort to get parents more involved in the decision-making process.

Reaching consensus continues to be difficult. There are many parents – especially those with kids in advanced classes – who complain that the amount of homework students are forced to do is an untenable nightmare. Other parents, however, say it’s just fine.

The district’s new proposal would limit the impact of homework on a student’s grade to 20 percent. It would also set guidelines on how much time students should have to spend after school working on outside assignments, based on grade level. Kindergartners – yes, even they get homework – would be limited to a total of 10 minutes a day. For fifth graders, the limit would be 50 minutes.

The recommendations were crafted by a 15-member committee of administrators, teachers and parents and will be brought to the Board on April 10th for a vote.

From the phones:

Anti-Homework

Elisa in East LA
"I have four children, this whole week is Spring break and I am working for a volcano project and a family history project for my 9-year-old that's just one child. I am working the whole week around this project, me and my husband because we're busy. We want to do other things we want to take the time to be be creative with our kids and do things that are not mandated by the schools, and it's very hard, but I also have to teach her to do her work"

Sue in Irvine
"I think homework is really out of hand. I see that kids have to make a decision many times between whether I want to get A's in school or whether I want to participate in a sport. Many kids pick between, well if I want to do my sport I'm going to have to get Bs in these classes or I'm going to have to abandon extracurricular stuff so I can get A's because homework will last anywhere between 3 and 5 hours… It becomes a joke I wonder whether they go to school just to get their homework graded."

Joel in Sherman Oaks
"I was a teacher for two years, and I would never give my students homework, I think it's a bit inappropriate to intrude into their personal family lives and many occasions I found that the parents didn't know how to help the students throughout the work so it was a problem at home. Most of my students did perfectly fine without the homework, but in general I think LAUSD should leave it to the teacher to make the decision on a teacher-to-teacher basis"

Jervey in Alta Dena
I would say that when homework interferes with children becoming passionate readers, that they have free time to figure out what they want to read, like my daughter is passionate about reading the Hunger Games, her school they don't do that, but it just seems like such a problem. At the college level the difference between the kids who are avid readers and the ones that just study for the SAT and the AP, it's alway apparent.

Pro-Homework

Nicole in Pasadena
I teach at one of the lowest performing schools in LAUSD and find that the problem is that my students who are extremely intelligent, but don't have the academic skills don't have enough homework. I find myself fighting a battle where i am the only teacher assigning homework, reading, writing, thinking and my colleagues don't, so the students don't develop any good habits in terms of going home and extending their learning.

Sam, a parent in Glendale "I have to say with more and more dual parent families out there and parents working longer and longer hours, we get further and further away from being in touch with how our kids are doing in school and to me doing homework with my kids in the evening helps me gauge where they are in terms of their learning, what things we have to work on at home and what things I can talk to the teacher about afterwards. So I kind of feel like we're taking away a big part of family time when we don't do homework with our kids in the evening."

Amanda in Tustin.
I am a college student, and I can't speak to elementary school, it's been too long, but I have found that in my high school, homework load did not prepare me for the time management issues that I am facing in college. I've been in college enough to get a hold of it now, but I found that it was such a big jump that my first year of college was anxiety and procrastination and not understanding how to manage it.

WEIGH IN:

Do the new recommendations strike a better balance for students, parents and teachers? Who should decide how much homework kids get – district officials or individual teachers? Is homework a necessary evil or something that should be abolished altogether? How does homework affect your family?


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