Here’s an update from Lisa Grady, the parent from southern California who writes about what she’s doing to try to change homework policy in her fourth-grader’s public school.
Organizing Other Parents (Continued)
by Lisa Grady
In my previous blogs, I have chronicled our group’s progress in reducing homework ( I would like to say eliminating but our group has varying degrees of support for this idea and let’s face it, striving to reduce the homework poses fewer obstacles initially). I last wrote about a written presentation we gave to the fourth grade teachers and the principal. While our offer to create a dialog on the issue of homework has yet to receive an answer, the homework has been reduced or at least shifted from home to class time. Actually, it dawns on me that we have received an answer in that we made our request in April and there are only three weeks left of school….
In addition to reducing the homework to more manageable levels, the school distributed a survey. You might be initially encouraged about this, as we were, until you actually see the survey and discover that you have to put your child’s name on the survey and then proceed to answer questions about whether you are required to sit next to your child during homework in order to ensure its completion or whether you feel your child’s teacher gives an appropriate amount of homework, etc. Another survey question was whether outside activities interfer with homework. Wouldn’t a more appropriate question be “Does homework interfere with your children’s other important activities? Hmmm, I can tell where this survey is going!
So, our group has essentially closed the chapter on the fourth grade, however as it was always our intention to address the issue for the entire elementary school, we press on. Our major objective now is one of education — for the parents. We are exploring letters to the editor, conference calls with Sara Bennett and our school board and/or the district, as well as the creation of a web site. We’ve distributed flyers locally. For example, when Alfie Kohn, author of the Homework Myth, came to our area to speak our flyers were available. We have already received several emails from interested parents, some in neighboring communities, who would like to join in our efforts. And as they tell two people, and they tell two more people, and so on.
There are no boundaries to the issue of homework as it affects children everywhere. Our feeling is that the more voices who join together, the more powerful our collective voice. There will be a dialog. In fact, there already is. It is happening at sports events, bookstores, at drop-off and pickup at school, our own living rooms and of course, online. While we may feel marginalized and unheard at times, this movement to respect our children’s right to a childhood is growing more mainstream everyday.