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
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…