Feature

Homework: Parents lead a rebellion

Some grade-schoolers take home two hours of work a night. One high school junior had to prepare for six exams in five days.

“What are we doing to our kids?” asked Candy Schulman in The Washington Post. From preschool to pre–college prep classes, schools trying to meet tough testing standards have turned into “a pressure cooker,” with stressed-out kids buried under tons of homework. Some grade-schoolers take home two hours of work a night, and my 16-year-osix exams in five days,ld high school junior is swamped with so much work she can’t even find the time to take a walk. To prepare for  she recently locked herself in her room from Friday to Sunday. “I fear for our children’s health.” That fear is propelling a nationwide “homework revolt,” said Winnie Hu in The New York Times. Parents leading the rebellion say too much homework is depriving kids of exercise and fun, and they want limits imposed—especially for weekends and summers. “Parents want their kids back,” one school official says.

“Why not ban homework altogether?” said The Press of Atlantic City in an editorial. “And tests, too.” Pardon our sarcasm, but while it may be pointless to give a second-grader two hours of homework, high school students do benefit from extra hours of assignments. How can an English teacher delve into Faulkner or Joyce, said college student Jonathan Lai in CollegeNews.com, if students don’t spend hours outside of class reading their novels? How do you teach a foreign language if students don’t learn the vocabulary at home? Because of my own experience as a student, “I believe in homework,” and so do China, India, and our other competitors in the global marketplace.

Maybe we should stop obsessing about China—and standardized tests, too, said Nicole Pelton in Technorati.com. Thanks to “No Child Left Behind,” teachers are now forced to cover a pre-assigned list of topics, rather than stimulate students. “I’ve actually seen the light go right out of a kid’s eye when they had to stop reading a book to fill out a bubble on a worksheet.” Too much homework—and the pressure that comes with it—is “tearing apart the American family,” said Ali Skylar in NJ.com. When my husband and I get home from work, we’re forced to police our burned-out kids’ nightly homework grind. I’d rather eat a leisurely meal with my children, and then enjoy some free time as a family. Do we want our kids to be anxious, sedentary automatons with straight A’s—or “healthy, happy, and well-balanced”?

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