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Homework Questions

Why Homework?

Schools are assigning homework as if it were their inalienable right to give any assignment, demand any and every type of accountability, and set any time expectations that they want.

Schools pretend that homework helps with academic achievement – It doesn’t.

Schools pretend that homework develops character in the form of time management, responsibility, independence, and task management – It doesn’t.

Schools invade every family every night of the year without any regard to family togetherness, culture, values, needs, or expectations.

Schools are acountable for everything – except homework!
Parents and students have no right to question, appeal, negotiate, arbitrate, or petition any homework assignment.

Homework causes stress and takes away a child’s free time in the evenings, on weekends, and on holidays.

Schools have no moral authority to extract a child from his or her family.

Homework looks good and fits with our preconceived notion that it is important.

Ask your school the following questions and insist on factual answers, not opinions.

Ask for data from students in your district -not research from other times or places.

1. When was the last time our district conducted any research on the effectiveness of different kinds of homework by grade level, by student type, by subject matter, and by time required vs time suggested/recommended?

2. Who collected the data, what were the results, and where is the report?

3. Why do teachers have unbridled authority to assign any type of homework?

4. Has any teacher in the history of our district ever been called on the carpet for assigning too much homework or inappropriate homework?

5. Why are there no provisions for students or parents to redress, negotiate, question, challenge, appeal, or arbitrate, any aspect of homework? (We know that homework directly impacts children and families, so why are parents ignored?)

6. What family-specific factors are accounted for prior to assigning different types of homework to certain students?

7. How do we know that every type of teacher-assigned homework for every student in every grade level, for every subject taught in our school district is both perfect and necessary? (Do we collect these data every trimester or every year?)

8. What opportunities are lost to homework? (conversations with parents, friends, neighbors; social life; jobs; volunteering; church and community ivolvement; leisure activities; going to watch or participate in sports or plays; reading for fun, etc.?)

9. What impact does homework have on my child’s exercise, rest, diet, sense of well being, developmental adjustment, etc?

10. What impact does homework have on childhood fears and anxieties?

11. Where do schools get their right to demand more time for schooling than the State allows? The State does prescribe a mandatory number of minutes per day and days per year – How do schools get away with this?

12. Since we know that exercise brings about substantial benefits for children and since physical education is part of the school curriculum, why can’t schools assign 500 push-ups, a thousand sit-ups, and a five mile run?

13. We know that family attendance at school -related events is beneficial so why can’t the schools mandate that families attend school-sponsored events?

14. Where is the research – (not opinions) – that …

a. proves that homework enhances character? (responsibility, time and task management, independence, etc.)

b. proves that “homework” enhances academic achievement? (We know that effective studying and reading increase academic achievement, but how often is homework reading and studying? It is usually nothing more than busy-work.)

c. proves that making-up missed homework is beneficial? (We know it overloads our children and causes stress and strain.)

d. documents the relationship of specific types of homework (projects, term papers, posters, videotapes, etc.) with certain outcomes for specific types of students at different grade levels?

e. proves that teachers should have an inalienable right to give any assignment for any amount of time to any student on any given night?

f. indicates a specific amount of homework time is necessary to optimize the academic and character benefits for specific types of students in different grade levels studying different subjects?

g. documents teacher competence in the design and implementation of different types of homework for specific types of students at different grade levels taking different subjects?

h. compares credentialed teachers, non-credentialed teachers, and emergency permit teachers in their assignment of homework? Do each of these groups offer perfect homework that optimizes academic, social, emotional, and character growth and development?

i. indicates that homework enhances the physical, emotional, spiritual, and academic health of the students?

j. supports the necessity of certain types of homework for certain types of children?

k. proves that homework is more important than family culture, family bonding, and togetherness?

l. demonstrates the effect of homework for students who dislike school?

m. proves that homework is fun and enjoyed by children and their parents and guardians?

n. proves that homework enhances a love of learning, an appreciation for schooling, respect for the teacher, and respect for the instruments of learning?

o. proves that homework prevents delinquency?

p. demonstrates that homework is equally beneficial for all students such as those depicted below?

– special needs students;
– gifted students;
– general education students;
– bilingual/multiculturalstudents;
– English Language Learners;
– Children from single parent families;
– Children from two-parent working families;
– Children involved in school-sponsored extracurricular activities;
– Children involved in non-school sponsored extracurricular activities;
– Children who work;
– Children who are slow learners;
– Children who hate school and/or teachers or both; and,
– Children who fit two or more of these categories.

NOTE: Each of the questions posed above should be restated for each type of student at different grade levels and for different subject matters.

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Homework – Cease & Desist

Schools have no right to take away our children every evening, every weekend, and every holiday.

This Cease & Desist Order should be presented to every district in the country.

Schools must stop the homework.

Notice of Parental Injunction
To
Immediately Cease & Desist All Homework

By the power vested in the parents of the children attending schools in This District,

__________________________________________________

We order an immediate “cease and desist” for all homework for the following reasons:

First, the schools have no moral authority to deny children the freedoms of their evenings, weekends, and holidays. Family life, our rights to privacy and to maintain the bonds of togetherness, supercedes any presumed rights of the schools and their teachers to invade our homes and deny our children their rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Children have given their pound of flesh to the schools in the form of mandatory and compulsory attendance every day throughout the school year. The schools have no right to take away their after-school time. “Give to Caesar that which is Caesar’s” and to the families, that which is theirs -–the sanctity of their homes and their children.

Second, the district has no data to support the academic benefit or the character development benefit of homework. The district and its teachers are unaccountable in their assignment of homework. Not one teacher in the history of this district, nor the district itself, has any evidence that the assignment of homework brings about any benefits to our children. However, to the contrary, there is sufficient evidence that homework destroys family life throughout the school year. As a result, teachers have assumed unbridled authority to mandate any assignment, under any circumstances that they deem appropriate. There is no accountability and there is no form of checks and balances. “Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” We now have a system of absolute power in the hands of the unaccountable. Parents and children have no access to appeal homework, to redress its impositions or necessity, to negotiate an assignment, to ask for extensions of time, to petition for a review and discussion of the purpose of an assignment, or to question the “Magnificent Oz” hiding behind the protective curtain of authority, spewing out assignment after assignment. When it comes to homework, “Ours is not to question why, ours is just to do or die” (academically).

As much as I know that schools have no moral authority to invade my family life after school hours, I hate to address arguments of accountability for homework, because by doing so it can be construed as an implicit recognition that schools have the authority to give after-school assignments. However, being that I am a professor of education and a former school principal, director of special education, teacher, and coach, I am aware of the improbability that my appeal to the district and the parents will bring about an immediate change. Hence, I will offer the following in hopes that some changes might occur. I will give my website address that contains a substantial amount of information about the research and realities of homework, and I will give several very practical ways that we can hold teachers and the district accountable for the abuses of homework.

1. The website.
The following website is filled with data about homework: http://www.webspawner.com/users/nohomework.

2. The Homework Debit Card.
Mark Twain once quipped, “Don’t let schoolin’ get in the way of your education.” After-school activities, whether or not they are school sponsored, are an integral part of a child’s education. As Twain implied, education is more than schooling. The district needs to establish a debit card system for students in order to safeguard against abuses of their time by teachers. The card system would also be an excellent way to collect data on time uses for children.

The debit card would allow for eight hours of schooling and related activities on a five-day per week basis. Since the school day demands approximately seven hours, that would leave no more than one hour of after-school academic work per night. Thus, an eight-hour work day. Once the debit card is filled up no more time can be demanded by the teacher. However, since the mental and physical health of a child is at stake in matters of abuse of after-school time, parents would have preemptive rights to input time allotments on the card as well. For example, if a child has a birthday party, a religious or civic event, a family affair, a club, an after-school sport, hobby, dance, meeting, etc. to attend or in which he or she partakes, the parent simply inputs the time needed and once the card is filled up, no other impositions can be inputted. This preemptive input option returns the control of after-school time to the parent – the person best suited and most responsible for the use of after-school time. If there is any time remaining on a child’s card, the teacher can input assignments. With each homework assignment being equal to one hour of time, the schools are then left to determine which teachers and which assignment should have priority. The burden is then returned to the schools and the teachers to prioritize assignments and teachers for the possible use of time slots left remaining on a child’s debit card.

The debit card process would protect against abuses of the times for after-school life for students, it would safeguard their mental and physical health and well-being, it would allow for an abundance of data collection regarding how families spend their evenings and free time, and yet, it would allow parents to have their children engage in after-school academics if they, the parents, wanted to keep an hour time-slot available to the teacher. The important point, however, is that a debit-card process would put the power back in the hands of the parents.

3. District Homework Web Site.
The district should develop a centralized homework website with a page for each teacher. The website would allow parents and students to “sound-off” about every homework assignment. The web-site could include the assignment itself – which would definitely be a huge advantage for both students and parents, as well as spaces for written comments and a tally indicating students’ and parents’ ratings of the benefit of the assignment, the stupidity of the assignment, and the time required for the assignment. Specific complaints could be logged and discussion could ensue between teachers and parents and students. This process would bring meaning to the expression, “You can run, but you cannot hide,” as teaches would have to be accountable for their assignments. Also, the very act of having to put assignments on the web site would bring a real sense of accountability open to the public. It would also rob the teacher of his or her free time at night so that they could experience the fun of having to do some after-school work, and it would hold them accountable to the parents and students they teach. This system would force teachers into justifying assignments, as well as detailing how it helps to develop “time management,” “task completion,” “independence and responsibility,” academic achievement, etc. We, the parents could critically examine the rubrics that teachers use to determine grades, and we could examine the justifications that teachers give for each assignment. After all, parents who are actively involved need to know how they can contribute to their child’s overall growth and development, especially since the schools are demanding that so much of it take place under our supervision in the evenings – outside of their professional watch. If they want to shift the burden to us, then give us more insight into what the intention of the assignments are all about and how each assignment relates to the goals and objectives of the course, then, and only then, can we become true adjuncts in the educational process. This is what accountability is all about. At present, there is no accountability for any type of homework.

4. Think Out of the Box.
If schools truly cared about the efficacy of homework they should conduct some research with experimental and control groups. Districts could experiment with homework excuse cards that students could use to exempt themselves from assignments. They could abolish homework for a semester or for one year and conduct district wide change studies of academic achievement, character development, TV viewing time, divorce rates, child and spousal abuse, school attendance, after-school participation in school-sponsored and non school-sponsored events, charity, church and civic involvement, restaurant and entertainment attendance, family togetherness activities, visits to friends and relatives, and a host of other activities that reflect on the social, emotional, physical, and psychological health of children and families and reflect more on “education” than on “schooling.” What about having a month off and a month on with homework and making some assessments? What about a week on and a week off? What about voluntary homework? What about no homework?!!!

5. Homework Reality.
Schools need to break their mold and make some drastic changes in their homework assumptions and assignments. Children do not belong to them twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. There are no data to support the assumption that homework is good for academic achievement or character development. There are no “perfect” assignments (except reading and efficient studying) that help children academically (the research on writing indicates that it must be done with input from qualified writing experts). There are too many differing needs and abilities of children to make any one type of assignment good for all kids. Homework destroys family life. Homework robs children of their one and only time to be children. Homework causes family stress and strife. Homework causes many children to hate school and to drop out. Homework goes against child labor laws by overworking children. Homework reflects the qualities of the home – not the child. When homework is not assigned TV viewing decreases and children revert to being children. When homework is not assigned children spend more time talking to their parents about schooling. If schools wanted to increase test scores they would offer a sixth period wherein all homework assignments were supervised by qualified teachers, especially in the areas of math and science. Homework is not a four-letter word, it is two four letter words!

Give to Caesar that which is Caesar’s
And to the family… Their evenings and children…

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Homework – Why Not Phys Ed Homework?

The following questions come from my own research and experience as a university professor and, more importantly – a father of five children.

Historically, there have been three basic arguments to justify homework. The first was the argument based on “character development,” the second was the argument based on “academic achievement,” and the third was the argument based on “parent involvement.”

The Character Development Justification for Homework

Historically, teachers believed that homework helped students develop strong moral character because the very act of completing homework required “responsibility,” “time management,” “independence” and “task completion.” Thus, homework fit nicely into the American ideal of rugged individualism and personal responsibility.

Unfortunately, there is no proof that homework develops or improves any of these traits of character. We do know, however, that children who are responsible, hard working, and manage their time well are the ones who get better grades in school and turn in better homework anyway. It isn’t because homework makes them more responsible and more capable of managing their time, it is the fact that they were raised to be more responsible, hard working, and more accountable for their time management in the first place.

Another way to look at this issue of “character development” as a justification for giving homework is to ask the schools the following:

1. Why does it take 13 years of giving homework to develop these character traits?

2. If a child demonstrates mastery of these character traits in February of his third year in school does he have to keep doing homework the rest of the year?

3. What kind of data does the school collect on my child to determine that he has mastered the necessary level of character considered sufficient to have homework reduced, stopped or perhaps, increased, if he is lacking in character?

4. Who keeps the data that is used to measure how effective homework is in developing these and other character traits for my child?

5. How and when were the data collected on my child to determine if he has met the necessary level of character development?

6. Is there any standardized test that my child can take to demonstrate that he has mastered the necessary level of character development to have homework waived?

7. Why do the schools have to begin giving homework in kindergarten and first grade, wouldn’t it be a good idea to begin giving homework, say perhaps, in the first year of high school. And perhaps only for the first semester?

8. If there are certain important character traits associated with homework, couldn’t they be better taught under the watchful and evaluative eye of the teacher in class?

9. Couldn’t time management, task completion, and independent/responsible behaviors related to learning and achievement be easily demonstrated and assessed in classroom activities?

10. If character is considered so important to success in life, why do schools leave it to be developed as a by-product of homework, especially since homework affects different children in different ways?

11. Has our district ever considered that homework might have a deleterious effect on character?

12. Do some types of homework undermine a child’s desire to work or complete tasks?

13. If one child believes that homework is a waste of time and another child loves homework, how does it influence the development of his character?

14. Are there any data that indicate which types of homework work best for gifted students? Special needs students? Or students in general education classes?

15. Are we to believe that all homework is equally beneficial to all types of students in the development of character traits?

16. Is there a list of homework assignments that are considered improper, harmful, or counter-productive to certain students?

17. Who was the last teacher or administrator in our school or district who designed a test or an instrument to measure the effectiveness of homework as a means of enhancing character development?

18. Where are the results of any test or instruments that our school or district uses to measure the effectiveness of homework for students or specific types of students?

19. Has our district ever investigated the differential effects of homework for children in different grade levels?

20. What data does our district keep on the actual amount of time our children spend doing homework across the grade levels? If we have recommended amounts of time per grade level, why don’t we collect data and determine if our recommendations are consistent with reality?

The Academic Achievement Justification for Homework

Historically, schools believed that homework enhanced academic achievement of students and helped schools in their mission to educate. This argument sounds logical since it appears that there would be an obvious relationship between homework and academic achievement. The flaw with this argument is twofold. First, is the confusion of words. When we hear the word “homework” we assume that it means “studying.” Unfortunately, homework is seldom pure studying. Homework usually involves disproportionate amounts of busy work and seldom involves studying. Busywork needs no explanation, except to say that it is the misuse of time for carrying out trivial and miscellaneous activities that do not enhance learning.

The second flaw with the argument that homework helps with academic achievement is that there are no data to support this relationship between academic achievement and homework. We do know that good, hard-working, responsible students do good homework. That’s why the straight “A” student does straight “A” homework. The correlation between grade point average and students doing good quality homework is incorrectly interpreted. It isn’t homework that makes the student get the higher grades, it is the character of the student that brings about good grades. Good students do their best at everything, from homework to class participation. Homework doesn’t make the straight “A” student do better in class, or make him a good student in general, but the other way around. The character of the good student is why the student does good homework. And, there is one other aside with this argument. There is no research which compares student grades with different grades of homework. There is no way to evaluate the quality of homework and compare it with grade point averages. There is no objective scale that allows a teacher to rate a homework assignment as “A,” “B,” “C,” etc., and then correlate the letter grade with academic achievement. The only thing that research can show is the better students do better homework. By better is meant that it is on time, it is thorough, and it is neat and done well.

Another way to look at this issue of “academic achievement” as a justification for giving homework is to ask the schools the following questions:

1. Where is the research that my school or district uses to establish its policy on homework?

2. Where is the research that indicates that homework is effective for academic achievement for specific types of students at different grade levels in our school or district?

3. What kind of training do our teachers get about effective assignment and use of homework as a means to enhance academic achievement for specific types of students in different grade levels?

4. When was the last in-service training session that our teachers took to explain the research about efficacious use of homework for specific types of students at different grade levels?

5. Where is the research – not opinions – that supports the amount of time that different types of students should spend doing homework at different grade levels?

6. Where is the data about the effectiveness of homework for students from our district? Who collects it and exactly what do they collect and where is it kept?

7. Where is the research that supports how much of a student’s end-of-semester grade should be based on homework? Do we have a district policy regarding this process?

8. Where is the research that cautions teachers against the misuse and abuse of specific types of homework for specific types of students at different grade levels?

9. What does the research recommend about the developmental needs of children to play and have the freedoms to enjoy their lives as children?

10. What education codes of the State of California authorize teachers to use unlimited amounts of time for the completion of homework? Are there no stipulations regulating the amount of time schools may demand?

11. Since research and common-sense indicate that physical fitness is important, and since schools teach physical education as part of the school curriculum, why don’t teachers assign five miles of running and five hundred sit-ups and push-ups.

12. Since research and common sense indicate that there are major benefits to parent involvement in school related activities, why don’t teachers make our family attend school-sponsored events?

13. Are there some limitations on what constitutes homework?

14. Why do teachers give homework in some subjects, like math and science, and writing, that are better left to the teacher to supervise than to the untrained and unlicensed parent or guardian?

15. Do some subjects or some types of assignments lend themselves better to homework than others? How do we know?

The Parent Involvement Justification for Homework

Historically, it was believed that homework would provide a golden opportunity to involve parents in the education of their children. The intention of the school was to have parents actively involved in their child’s homework in order to guarantee that the parent was taking a responsible part in the educational process. Unfortunately, the schools have forgotten that a significant majority of families are two-parent working couples or single parent families and the time necessary to supervise and in many cases, to police homework activities, is simply not there. Add this to the already mentioned fact that homework seldom involves a simple fifteen-minute period of time. It takes that long for most children to sit down. The homework ordeal is both long and tedious. Not only do parents find it difficult to squeeze into the routine of the evening, but the frequent controversies that flourish around homework, such as, parents not understanding the assignments, children insisting that the teachers “don’t do it that way anymore,” and children simply refusing to do or complete assignments is beyond the scope of many parents. Life is tough enough without having to police children every evening. A simple newsletter with weekly updates will suffice to keep parents informed and perhaps, more appropriately than having them share the burdens of homework.

The Recommended Time By Grade Level Justification for Homework

Every school district publishes a set of guidelines regarding the recommended amount of time that children should spend doing homework. Typically, schools suggest about ten minutes per night per grade level, resulting in forty minutes for fourth graders, fifty minutes for fifth graders, etc. These recommendations, however, are groundless. There is no definitive research that proves a certain amount of time is best for a certain age level. This is impossible since the nature of the homework assignment itself would have more to do with the amount of time spent than the number of minutes. Homework that is too difficult, too confusing, or that causes strife between parent and child is debilitating and it is not the time required to complete the assignment that should be of importance, but rather its effect on the child and his or her attitudes toward school and learning that is of importance. Hence, to consider time as the most important, and often the only variable that is used in setting district policy is ridiculous. There is no way to compare thirty minutes of memorizing times tables with thirty minutes of practicing a musical instrument, or reading an interesting story. Ten minutes of reading for a child with reading problems is an eternity as well as a taste of hell. District policies do not reflect the affective component of forcing homework on the child. It is sad to say, however, twenty minutes spent under the watchful eye of an abusive parent who makes the completion of homework more strenuous than necessary compounds the problem of homework completion.

It isn’t the time that should be of concern since the more important variable is the child’s experience throughout the homework process. If a student likes the assignment it isn’t homework, it’s more like home-play. The enjoyment of homework has more to do with its effect on a child’s life than the amount of time, and the enjoyment has so much to do with personality, temperament, values, family support and attitudes, and basic beliefs about schooling and education.

The amount of time recommended by the schools for each grade level is also inappropriate since the recommended time is often far different than the actual completion time. Teachers might believe that an assignment should only take fifteen minutes, when in fact it could take an hour or more, depending on the child’s abilities. For some children, task completion is a major accomplishment irrespective of the recommended time. Some children are simply slow and take more time than others. This is a matter of personality as much as ability. Recommended time is often far more than actual time.

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Homework – Prove It Works!

Homework Doesn’ t Work

We, the parents and guardians of the children attending schools in our district provide that the following facts be submitted to a candid world.

1. Our evenings, weekends, and holidays belong to our families and our children.

2. Research clearly demonstrates that children:
a. Need time to be children;
b. Should be involved in their community;
c. Need time with their family;
d. Need time to socialize with friends; and,
e. Need time to enjoy life as a child.

3. Parents and guardians have the obligation and the sole authority to encourage
after-school-time pursuits of knowledge. Schools do not have this right.

4. Schools do not have the moral or legal right to invade the privacy of our homes under the pretext of homework or any other after-school activity or event.

5. Schools should cease giving homework immediately since they have no moral or legal right to compel compliance.

6. Homework does not work – there is no research to support the assumption that it facilitates academic achievement or assists in the development of character or virtue.

7. Research has shown that homework has a deleterious effect on the emotional, psychological, physical, social, and mental health of children.

8. Research has shown that when homework is not assigned, children:
a. Watch less television;
b. Talk more with their parents about school;
c. Enjoy their childhood;
d. Engage in child-play with friends; and,
e. Are more well-adjusted.

9. The State has allotted a specific amount of daily, weekly, and yearly time in which to effectively facilitate the student-attainment of specific State standards, and, schools are not allowed or entitled to extend these hours.

10. Credentialed teachers have sufficient knowledge and training to effectively enhance the student construction of knowledge within the time allotted by the State as it relates to the California core curriculum standards.

11. If teachers cannot successfully cover the schools’ explicit curriculum within the time allotted by the State, either the State should re-examine its curricular scope and sequencing, the teachers should be re-tooled, the administration at the school or the district should be replaced, or the teachers should be dismissed. Don’t blame the children or their families. Don’t sacrifice our children on the altar of time.

12. Schools and parents/guardians should encourage after-school reading and studying. Homework should be abolished completely!

13. The abolition of homework would not prohibit parents/guardians from encouraging reading, studying and other academic pursuits.

14. Parents/guardians need to reclaim their children and protect them from the unreasonable demands of a system that has usurped its rightful authority as well as imposed tyrannical mandates on those who were entrusted to her care and protection. Like a Leviathan, the schools have devoured the free time of her subjects enslaving them with rituals and regulations whose validity remains vague and unsubstantiated.

15. The schools assign too much busy-work and, like any other homework assignment, it preempts personal needs and wants as well as all family life. Homework interferes with everything – Yet nothing is allowed to interfere with homework!

As Mark Twain once quipped:
“Don’t let schoolin’ get in the way of your education.”

The Student’s Credo Regarding Homework

Ours is not to question why….
Ours is just to do or die (academically)….

Give To Caesar – That Which Is Caesar’s
And To The Family – That Which Is The Family’s

P.S. It’s Not The Teacher – Its The System – The Schools!

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Homework – Good For Who?

Every night from September to June homework invades the privacy of every home in America. It preempts every family activity and it interrupts meals, sports, and culture. It prevents family traditions and denies parents the opportunity to be parents and spouses. Homework is an equal opportunity destroyer, wrecking havoc on every family regardless of income, social status or ethnicity. And, there is no provision for parents or students to challenge, question, negotiate, appeal or arbitrate any aspect of homework.

Unfortunately, parents and teachers think that homework is important and necessary. Everyone believes that it helps their children academically as well as in the development of character. We assume that homework is carefully structured to challenge each child with detailed professional attention to the optimal development of his or her talents. We assume that teachers know exactly what our children need and we trust that they can bring it about through the medium of homework. The research, however, does not support these assumptions. Quite the contrary, the research suggests that homework reflects the quality of the home not the child. In sum, homework has little, if any value and is not worth the trade-off with family life and childhood being at stake. Homework takes away our freedoms.

My wife and I have five children and I am a university professor of education with 20 years of research on homework under my belt. We believe in hard work and expect our children to get good grades. So far, all of our children have maintained grade point averages above 3.85 and they have all earned at least two varsity letters in sports.

Our concerns over homework are focused on the research as much as the reality that we have experienced in our home. Homework has taken away our family life and replaced it with a life of busy work. The research says that homework does not help with academic achievement or with character development. Homework does not make kids smarter and it doesn”t teach kids to manage their time more effectively or work independently. The only thing we know about homework is that it takes up time every night and it often causes stress and strife in most families.

Ask yourself how homework helps your children. Watch your children at play and think about the needs they have to enjoy life as a child, not an extension of the schools. It is time to think out of the box and see homework for what it really is and how it destroys family liife every evening, on weekends, and holidays.

Our hope is that evenings, weekends, and holidays will be returned to the family and children will return to being children. With homework being abolished, families will return to being families. And, as research has shown, when children have no homework they watch less TV and spend more time talking to their parents about what they did and learned in school.

It is time to reclaim our children and reinstate our families. Evenings, weekends, and holidays belong to the family and they should remain the sacred domain of the family without any interference from the schools. By law, schools already have our children every day and they have no legal or moral right to claim their evenings as well. Our family life should be ours to do as we see fit. Our children do not belong to the State.

About The Author
I am a University Professor of Special Education.
I am the father of five children.
So far, my children have attended 4 High Schools and have had GPAs above 3.875.
I have been…
…a school principal
…a director of special education
…a high school teacher and coach
…a middle school teacher and coach
…a grade school teacher and coach
I have coached…
…club soccer & Little League baseball
…high school football and wrestling
…college wrestling, rugby, and baseball
I have conducted research on homework for twenty years
I am a tough task-master and ask for excellence
I believe in rigorous academic standards
I believe schools need to get tougher
I believe schools need to demand excellence

Homework should be abolished for the following reasons:

Philosophically
Schools have no moral justification to invade my home and family at night. Schools have my children every day for almost seven hours because of mandatory attendance laws and they should leave the after-school hours to me and my children.

Practically
My family needs time together. My children want to enjoy life as children. Homework preempts everything my family wants to do every night.

Research
Research shows that homework does not improve academic achievement.
Homework does not teach time management, responsible behaviors, or independence.
Homework reflects the home – not the child.
Homework discriminates against students from disadvantaged homes.
Homework discriminates against students with special needs.

Legally
Homework denies children the rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness in the evenings, on weekends, and on holidays.
Homework has no legal authority over students or families.

Problems With Homework
Teachers are not held accountable for homework.
Children have no rights to appeal, question, challenge, or redress any aspect of homework.
Parents have no rights to appeal, question, challenge, or redress any aspect of homework.
Teachers can give as much homework as they wish.
Teachers never assess the effectiveness of homework.
Schools never assess the effectiveness of homework.
Districts never assess the effectiveness of homework.
Homework increases the incidence of high school drop outs.
Homework should be supervised by teachers.
The less homework – the less TV viewing time.
The less homework – the more parent/child interaction.

What To Do About Homework
Organize a group of parents and approach the school principal.
Organize a group of parents and approach the school board.
Write editorial opinions against homework for the newspaper.
Email teachers and ask them about:
A. How they measure the effectiveness of their homework?
B. How they differentiate homework for students of different ability levels?
C. How they know that an assignment was worth while?
D. Why any specific assignment was given?
E. What research supports their giving homework?
F. Can they try supervising homework in class and not assigning it to children to take home?
G. Could they possibly give homework every other week?
H. Could they possibly give homework only one week per month?
I. Could they possibly give homework only one night per week?
J. Could we have no homework on weekends or holidays?
K. When was the last time they gave the class a week off from homework? And, what happened?

Please join our fight to reclaim our families from the schools.

Go to the links below and print off each web page. Go to your district and get things going now. Restore your family and save your child from the agony of defeat!

Three Good Books To Read

The End of Homework: How Homework Disrupts Families, Overburdens Children, and Limits Learning by John Buell and Etta Kralovec

The Homework Myth: Why Our Kids Get Too Much of a Bad Thing by Alfie Kohn

This is a fantastic book and should be given to every teacher in America.

P.S.
If you wish to leave a comment in my guest book it must be addressed to the issue. Ad Hominem comments – That is, attacks against me as a person – like calling me names, will be deleted. Address the issue. Also, if you leave your email address I will attempt a personal response.

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Get Rid of Big Schools Now

Two of my children went to small public high schools… three of my children went to large, mega-public high schools. The differences were amazing! If we want to save our country and help our children enjoy life and schooling – we need to give meaning and a sense of purpose to our schools. We need a place where every kid can feel like he or she belongs – a place where “everybody knows your name.” A school with a sense of purpose for each kid. A school that gives meaning to life. A school where kids want to get involved.

Imagine if you will, a town with three high schools composed of 3000 students, each. Now, imagine the same town with 18 high schools with 500 students in each school – Sizer would prefer a magic number around 432 – however, 500 will serve the same purpose here. With 18 high schools there would be 18 student-body presidents and 18 sets of student officers. There would be 18 Senior class presidents, and 18 Junior class presidents, and down the line with each grade level. Schools would have 18 varsity Quarterbacks and 18 varsity teams competing for a city championship. And, every Friday night there would be 18 teams competing locally for the town honors. The community would have 18 dramatic societies putting on school plays; 18 choirs to sing fortheir schools and parents; 18 marching bands; 18 cheer-leading squads; 18 community involvement teams working in their community to make it a better place; 18 Valedictorians; 18 of every sport and junior varsity; and, 18 sets of everything positive about schools. Imagine schools where every kid belongs to a club and is involved in all the functions of the school Schools where we need kids to join clubs and become active in organizations.

Small schools would allow all faculty to know each other and each parent to be known personally by at least one teacher per school. Small schools would be able to and would need to cultivate all their student talents simply to field a varsity and junior varsity team or squad. Small schools would woo their students into joining clubs and organizations, simply to have a club or an organization. In sum, students would be an integral part of their schools – not simply a cipher in the haze of 3000 others.

Have you ever wondered why we have such large schools in America? Why some high schools have upwards of four and five thousand students, even some middles schools push 3000 students onto their campuses. Also, have you ever wondered if the size of the school had any significant influence on the students enrolled in these miniature cities? Well, size does have an affect – typically, a deleterious affect.

It all started in 1958, when James B. Conant, former President of Harvard University, and the Chairman of the National Defense Research Committee, suggested that schools should be as large as possible. Conant believed that large schools could offer more opportunities for students and at a much lower cost than having a number of small schools. His motivation was based, in part, on the post-sputnik awakening that was sweeping America. Having been influenced by the progressive educational movement lead by John Dewey and Robert Thorndike, Conant was aware of the ‘efficiency movement’ ideas whereby education was rigorously tied to any and all discoveries emanating from the “scientific studies” of educational researchers. And, with Conant’s endorsement, the ideals of the large-schools movement took hold on the American landscape – Big schools were here to stay.

Almost 25 years later, Theodore Sizer, former Dean of the College of Education at Harvard, wrote a book, titled: Horace’s Compromise: The Dilemma of the American High School, wherein he noted the tremendous benefits of small schools. Sizer actually founded the Coalition of Essential Schools to promote his ideas and stimulate continued research into the dynamics of small school.

What Sizer noted was that small schools provided students with a sense of belonging and security that large school were incapable of providing. He noted the benefits of being recognized as an important member of a small community of learners, a feeling that is part and parcel to the small schools experience. When students have a role to play in their schools they become part of the fabric of the school – understanding their significance.

I went to a small school and so did my wife! I captained my high school football team, I ran track and field, I was ASB president my senior year, Junior class president, sophomore class vice president, and freshman class president. I was an officer in the chess club, archeology club, library club, letterman’s club, and Sodality club. My wife was ASB Vice President or her school, a member of the year book staff, and a member of the Block Club. It felt good to be important and to have a meaning to go to school each day. I coached in a large school and I was a Director of Special education in a district with two large high schools. Small is beautiful.

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Blog #2: Obesity and Teachers

Blog #2: July 6, 2009: Obesity and Teachers
“Walk our Talk” – “Jog our Blog

My daughter once asked me, “Why do dogs bite when they get rabies?” I thought for a moment and replied: “Because, its their nature to bite.” She said, “Oh,” paused, said, “thanks” and walked away

The Nature of Teachers
It’s the nature of teachers to teach! To lead! To inspire! That’s what we’re all about. And, that is why the crisis of obesity will be defeated by us – The always dependable, always reliable teachers of America.

(After you read this, please go to my websites (www.TeacherFitnessUSA.Com and http://www.ScholasticTableTennis.com) and help me get a Fitness Academy in every school … a Table Tennis Club… a Rag-Tag Marching Band… Let me know what you think… I need feedback and ideas… We can change America one teacher at a time!)

Not By Government Mandate
The problems of obesity will not be solved by a state or federal program. The problems of obesity will be solved by one teacher at every school – And, not necessarily the PE teacher (I am credentialed in PE, Spanish, School Administration, and Special Education). I have been a school teacher, coach, principal, and director of special education. I am a father of five children and currently a professor of education and I know the k-12 system very well.
At this point I am going to jump to my solution to the obesity problem and show you how we teachers will rescue America one more time! After my proposal you can read about my personal experience in school that lead me to this proposal. I started the Fitness Academy Model a number of years ago when I was teaching high school and again when I was teaching grade school, and it worked.
Now, some thirty-seven years later I am revising this model and offering it as the best hope for an immediate attack on the problems of obesity. And, this proposal can re-energize the vitality of every school in America – especially our elementary and middle schools. However, I need your help. The children of America need your help.

My One Teacher Proposal
We need one teacher at every school in America. One ordinary teacher who is actively involved in being physically fit. Or, a teacher who wants to begin to get physically fit. This teacher sets up a bulletin board and displays his or her fitness activities. If he or she is a tri-athlete, put up pictures showing competition and practice. Also, show schedules of events and tournaments and contests. There is no better exemplar than a teacher putting it all on the line! This serves as a source of motivation and encouragement. Also, there is no better way to motivate kids than to see their own teachers in action. (See my personal story below). This teacher then recruits fellow teachers and staff and all fitness activities are displayed. Then, these teachers start and American Fitness Academy.

An American Fitness Academy

http://www.TeacherFitnessUSA.com
An American Fitness Academy is a formal organization started by a teacher with membership composed of students and teachers. The members of the American Fitness Academy serve as the Board of Directors for “Everything Movement” – a series of movement activity clubs. The Board of Directors sponsors a series of fitness activity clubs by offering support and strategies. The process is the same for every club. It’s like a cookie cutter template for each new club. Some clubs are only for teachers, staff, and administration; some are only for students; and, some are for both – teachers and students (see Table Tennis Example). Basically, the American Fitness Academy serves as the umbrella organization offering support and advice to each of the clubs it sponsors.

A Movement Club – Offer It And They Will Come
If we want kids to become physically active we have to provide them with opportunities in the form of movement clubs – “Everything Movement.” The clubs I will propose are only suggestions – any club will suffice as long as it involves movement and is done on a team basis. Some examples of the clubs are: Table Tennis, Team Dance, Square Dance, Jogging, Track & Field, Walking, Badminton, Martial Arts, Ultimate Frisbee, Jumping Rope, Orienteering, Hiking, Stompers, Marching, Gymnastics, Yoga, Skating, and Skate Boarding.
These clubs can be coached by teachers, staff, parents, volunteers, older students, and almost anyone. The idea is to get the kids moving and having fun. America’s Got Talent is an understatement. We have the talent, we simply need the opportunity to demonstrate it. I was coaching an 8th grade basketball team when I was in the 9th grade myself – it can be done. I have seen a group of 6th graders coach 2nd and 3rd graders and it was a real hoot. Don’t underestimate potential.
Three Roles of Each Club
Each club will perform three functions: First, it will organize grade level by grade level contests in its area of dedication. Second, each club will sponsor a competitive table tennis team that will compete against other schools in the district/area. Third, each club will sponsor and organize community events and activities as well as public relations.

A Rag-Tag Marching Band
Finally, I am suggesting that every school in America start its own Rag Tag Marching Band. This is no ordinary band, but rather a band that plays tambourines, harmonicas, kazoos, fifes, flutes, etc., and a few other similar types of primitive instruments that are fun to play and entertaining. The theme, dress, and music of these bands must be patriotic, Americana, historic, pioneer, frontier, early American and western in nature. These Rag Tag Marching Bands should provide entertainment for any and all fitness, movement, and sports programs. These are marching and syncopated teams with a careful focus on choreography. It is hoped that all uniforms will be low-budget and perhaps home-made. Hats are welcome and recommended. The image in mind should be the classic Drum and Fife type band depicted with the Yankee Doodle Dandy portrayal.

Table Tennis Club – A Teacher & Student Team

http://www.ScholasticTableTennis.Com
The first club that I am going to strongly recommend is a Scholastic Table Tennis Club. It will consist of one male and one female teacher/coach who will compete against other teacher/coaches. Their scores will count in the final tabulations for winning. Aside from the fact that table tennis is an Olympic sport, is cheap and easy to play, tables will be donated by parents, PTA/PTOs, and other community groups, and table tennis takes limited space, I chose it for the following reasons.
A) Everyone can play it (or thinks they can play it);
B) It is easy to learn;
C) It is fun to play;
D) It costs almost nothing for a paddle and balls;
E) The tables are easily donated by parents;
F) Every grade level can play;
G) Fund raising is easy and profitable via tournaments:
* grade level by grade level,
* faculty & staff tournament,
* parent tournament,
* faculty vs parent tournament,
* faculty vs student tournament, and
* community-wide “open” tournament.
H) No one has their ego involved in table tennis;
I) Everyone believes he or she can play,
J) Everyone wants to play,
K) you don’t have to be in shape to play,
L) No one will ache the next day,
M) injuries are almost non-existent,
N) Table tennis will attract a number of students,
O) Table Tennis is a social sport, and
P) Table Tennis attracts kids who often do not play sports.

The pain and suffering of being an obese child leaves lifelong scars and painful memories of childhood. Obesity robs a child of life. Obesity robs a child of the fun of being a child. Obesity is destructive of happiness and harmful to health and wellness. One of my sisters was obese and the other was always in great shape – their childhoods were totally opposite.

My Personal Experiences – Olympic Trials
The previous recommendation is based, in part, on my own personal experiences as a high school teacher and coach in 1972. Aside from coaching football and wrestling, I was wrestling and preparing for the Olympic wrestling trials. I typically ran everywhere, watched my diet, and exercised daily. What I quickly realized was the tremendous influence I was having on my own students. They kept asking me why I was always exercising and why I wouldn’t eat certain foods at lunch…

When I told them about preparing for the Olympics and that I played Rugby as well, they were keenly interested. I told them that I was keeping in shape for about 35 other reasons, as well. I told them that I played football and I wrestled in college and I wanted to stay in good shape so my clothes fit better, so I could go camping and hiking with my wife, so I could always feel good, stay healthy, and teach better. I said fitness kept me healthy and made me a happy teacher and not some miserable ole’ grouch. I said I liked playing sports and it was fun to be fit.

My Fitness Bulletin Board
My students wanted to know more about my work-outs, my rubgy team matches, my wrestling tournaments, and even about my diet and rest. So, I started putting up pictures and schedules and articles about fitness and wellness. To my delight, my students were impressed and started their own after-school fitness program. Some started jogging and weight lifting, and even a bike-riding club – The Trail Blazers.

Fitness Homework
I then started to assign “Fitness” Homework (not totally mandatory – but highly encouraged). My students loved it! Their parents loved it, also. In my experiences at all levels of education I have found that there is no real proof that homework actually works – ask your school for any efficacy studies about what types of homework is best for which types of students. Ask your district if they have any data on the effectiveness of homework. We do know, however, that fitness homework is effective for everyone – No questions asked. Fitness works.

The Teacher Fitness Club
The Teacher Fitness Club is intended to have teachers compete against other schools in the same district or city with monthly or bi-weekly assessments of fitness. The best process is to use the President’s Council on Fitness as the standard for fitness achievement. It is a free, on-line program designed to record fitness levels for both children and adults. There are a number of other competition sites, but the President’s is the easiest to use and very accurate.

That’s my story and I am sticking to it!

American Fitness Academy

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