Today’s guest blogger, Frank Bruni, the father of a 12-year-old seventh grader, lives in Toronto, Canada. Frank was a driving force in pushing the Toronto District School Board to review and revamp its homework policy. You can read Frank’s other guest blog entries here and here.
by Frank Bruni
On April 16th 2008, Toronto Canada became one of the first jurisdictions in North America to pass a substantive homework reform policy.
The policy reduces the homework burden on middle school and high school students and all but eliminates homework in the elementary grades. In addition, homework will no longer be allowed during vacations.
The new policy mandates that teacher’s co-ordinate their efforts and that the homework that is sent home is “clearly articulated and carefully planned” and “require no additional teaching outside the classroom”.
This policy is a major breakthrough for those of us who have been advocating for homework reform.
When I started to write this it was intended to be a “how to” guide for anyone who wanted to replicate what we have achieved in Toronto. But when I read it it seemed preachy.
I guess what I really want to communicate is, just start. Every situation is different, every school board is different, and every community is different, but just start somewhere.
Most of us convince ourselves that we are either to busy or lack the expertise to take on projects like these, and it paralyses us into inaction.
Large organizations count on this inaction to do want they want but, large organizations react to public pressure, and school boards are no different. But you have to start somewhere, so just do it.
The victory in Toronto was the result of many talented and passionate people putting in their time and effort to come to what has been described by some as one of the most innovative homework policies in North America.
I have been uncomfortable taking any credit for the new policy, but as someone pointed out, I got the ball rolling. So, I guess I can take credit for that. I made a two minute presentation in front of a sub-committee of the Toronto District School Board that started the process in motion. I started somewhere.
So I guess the question you have to ask yourself is, are your kids worth two minutes of your time? Just Start!