Monday, December 3, 2007

Homework Matters

A recent article by Grace Rauh reports that Peter Vallone of the New York City Council is proposing a limit on homework. His main motivation seems to be his children who, "...are routinely swamped with homework and stuck at home, slogging through it." Mr. Vallone also says, "As a parent, I have been unable to have fun with my kids. We can't go for bike rides. We can't go to the park. We can't go to the museum, and that's not fair." His proposal is for a maximum of 2.5 hours of homework assigned each night, and one night of no homework each week.

As a high school student, I fully appreciate where Mr. Vallone is coming from. I am given almost 4 hours of homework every night, and have at least 3 tests a week to study for. There is no doubt that limits need to be set in schools.

Here's how I would do it. The DOE should consult with parents, teachers and students to decide on the right number of hourse per night, and then set it as a guideline. There would probably be a different number of hours for different grades, rather than 2.5 hours for everyone. Then, the principal of each school should be responsible for coordinating among teachers so that most students have no more than 2.5 hours of homework per night. That means each teacher would probably be given a limit, but the limit could be adjusted at times when other teachers are giving less.

At the High School level, students who take a lot of honors or AP classes would have to accept that their workload could exceed the 2.5 hour per night guideline. It's true that homework loads are taking away from other important activities in students lives. More homework means less time for exercise, music, familiy, friends, etc. But at the High School level, this is a choice that some families might want to make, on the basis of interests and ambitions.

I have attended public school in New York since kindergarten, and I agree with Mr. Vallone. Restrictions on homework time should be put in place by the DOE, and implemented by school principals.

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