Having just had a conversation with my neighbor about excessive homework for her 10th-grade child, I was very interested in the Sunday Enterprise article, “Homework: How much is enough?” My own child came through Davis schools from middle school through high school and I was a teacher of grades K-8 over a 32-year career in education.
So, I understand the need of the teacher to require time for home practice and reinforcement of concepts taught in class. I understand the need of the student to expect some down time after a long school day as well as to fit in optional time for sports, special interests, organizations, church, work and community service. I understand the need of the parents to have family time do things as a family and be together.
I am bothered by the statement from North Davis Elementary School’s PTA president, Stephanie Schoen — “It’s not the job of the school district to create family time.” That seems backwards to me. All time at home is spent at the discretion of the family. It is meaningful, individual, personal and precious.
Our family is our first and best teacher of concepts, much broader than classroom learning, and integral to passing on culture and values. Families make time available for homework and work as partners with the school. Research shows that the best performing schools have the best family/school partnerships — teachers do not always know best. Homework time needs to be balanced, considering the whole child.
I side with those wanting an evaluation of the current homework policy. Consider the quality, quantity, purpose and effectiveness of homework. Give families flexibility and calendar homework so adequate homework time can be managed without infringing on other activities. Enforce and assess the policy already in place. Use staff meeting and collaboration time to gather information from teaching staff as needed. Make recommendations based on student data and dialog among all stakeholders.
Mary K. Williams