Guest Blogger: Update from Danville, California

Today’s guest blogger, Kerry Dickinson, gives an update on her organizing efforts in Danville, California. Kerry is the mother of two middle school age boys, a former middle and high school teacher, a current part-time substitute teacher, and a stay at home mother. She, and Julie Kurtz, the mother of two teens, a Mental Health Director, and a licensed marriage and family therapist in the San Francisco East Bay as well as teacher at a local Junior College, have been actively working to change homework policy in their community. Kerry wrote about their initial organizing attempts in a November guest blog entry and she also wrote an op-ed in her local newspaper.

Update from Danville, California
by Kerry Dickinson

In November, 2007, Julie Kurtz and I took an informal, email survey about homework among parents in our school district and received 60 responses. The survey asked questions like, “What percent of your child’s homework do you feel is of a high quality and what percentage is of a low quality? How much time do your children spend on homework? How do you define meaningful homework?” We compiled the results and presented them to the Director of Instruction for Student Services in our school district in the San Ramon Valley. We also gave the Director of Instruction research articles on homework and other information related to homework.

Not long after, the Director of Instruction informed us that the SRVUSD (San Ramon Valley Unified School District) would be forming a homework task force to reevaluate the current homework policy. And, I was invited to participate on the task force. I accepted the invitation because Julie’s full-time job prevented her from participating. The task force includes 19 people – a sample of parents, teachers, & administrators. It has met several times since the beginning of the year and will continue to meet until May, most likely, when a new policy will be presented to the public and to the Board for approval.

In the meantime, one of the local newspapers, the Danville Weekly, has written two pieces on homework to keep this issue in the public’s eye. You can read them here and here.

Julie and I are very hopeful that the new policy will be better than the old one and that steps will be taken to insure implementation of the new policy, hopefully beginning next fall.

4 Comments on “Guest Blogger: Update from Danville, California”

  1. sandra straka says:

    How can parents get the amoun’t of time doing homework/busy work and projects reduced? My grandchildren and foster kids are overwhelmed!
    Thank you,
    Sandra Straka

    May 23rd, 2008 at 8:28 am
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  2. Sara Bennett says:

    If you haven’t read The Case Against Homework, you should. There’s a lot of information on what’s the matter with homework and several chapters on how to talk to teachers, administrators, and other parents to try to get homework loads reduced. And, I always suggest that when children are overwhelmed, the adult step in and advocate on the child’s behalf. Good luck and feel free to email me directly after you’ve read the book if you need more advice.

    May 23rd, 2008 at 8:36 pm
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  3. amy bentley says:

    Hi- I understand the school district in Danville was voting on June 24 on a new homework policy- any details of the vote or the new policy and what it does? Thank you.

    June 25th, 2008 at 4:36 pm
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  4. Allison Golde says:

    I applaud you! Congratulations for making a difference in the lives of children. I agree that homework is not the answer, rather more focused classroom time, that is focused. I feel the frustration that these students encounter. I had a Traumatic Brain Injury my Senior Year of High School and it changed my life, it also changed how much I was able to retain and my memory was pretty much erased. Kids need to learn how to relax and I believe if the brain is relaxed and the body is exercised and happy, we all learn better. This antiquated school system has to change. Kudos!!!

    Allison Golde

    September 5th, 2008 at 8:24 pm
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