Opinion Brief

What happens if homework no longer matters?

Los Angeles ignites an uproar by saying homework can no longer count for more than 10 percent of a student's grade

America's second largest school district is joining a nationwide revolt against homework. Starting July 1, the Los Angeles Unified School District will mandate that homework can only count for 10 percent of a kid's grade, even in high school. Will this make grading more fair for students who have a hard time studying at home, or will it merely encourage everyone to slack off?

It's about time kids got a break: Homework has been on the rise in this country for decades, says Kayla Webley at TIME. Assignments for kids as young as 6 tripled between 1981 and 1997, to more than 2 hours a week, and more work gets piled on every year. "For too long homework has been used as a form of punishment," especially for kids who don't get much support at home. And let's not forget about teens who are "the member of the family charged with putting food on the table." They just don't have time for massive amounts of homework."Los Angeles gives students a break on homework"

This is politically correct nonsense: L.A. school administrators say it's unfair to penalize kids who don't have a good "home academic environment," says Brian Koenig at his blog. Read between the lines: They're saying homework is racist, because it's easier for kids to get it done in white, middle-class households than in poorer, minority ones. "God forbid we hurt some poor kid’s feelings — or should we say, motivate him or her to learn and find success in their future career.""Homework: A new form of racism in Los Angeles"

Fairness is great, but homework is useful: Homework isn't just "a teacher's form of torture," says Kelsey Williams at the San Francisco Chronicle. It's a tool teachers need to help kids "get a better grip" on what they're learning. It's great to try leveling the playing field for all kids, but we shouldn't do it by making homework irrelevant. That only encourages everyone "to slack off more and learn less.""L.A. Unified ditches homework"

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