I always encourage parents to write thank you notes when they appreciate something that a teacher or administrator has done. (There are a few examples in The Case Against Homework.) Shelli and Tom Milley, the couple from Calgary, Canada who recently negotiated an opt-out-of-homework contract with their children’s school, wrote a beautiful letter to the principal and teachers at Prince of Wales School in Barrie, Ontario, Canada, because they liked their piece in the December 2009 issue of the Ontario Principals’ Council Journal.
Letter to Jan Olson, Ms. Collett, Ms. Dickie and Ms. Miller
Prince of Wales School, Barrie, Ontario, Canada
from Shelli and Tom Milley
January 19, 2009
I recently read your article, Putting a Halt on Homework in the Ontario Principals Counsel Exemplary Leadership in Public Education Magazine. I am writing to applaud you and all the teaching staff at the Prince of Wales School in Barrie, Ontario. Your hard work in examining the research on the value of homework and questioning whether or not it should be required at all must by itself be congratulated but then to go on and spend many more hours focusing on creating and implementing teaching strategies that meet the needs of all students without the use of homework is exemplary. As you are no doubt aware, there is much literature on the subject of homework, but, little or none on how schools can operate with out it. To this end, you have led the way in creating a system that works. As you stated in your article, “We need to stop trying to reform education and, instead, reinvent it”.
Your efforts and methods are influencing hundreds of parents, teachers, educators and administrators not only across Canada and the United States but all over the world. They undoubtedly influenced our family throughout our journey on the matter of homework. The statistics that your school has kept in student achievement without the use of homework speaks volumes. Clearly, you have “got it right”.
As a parent who spent almost three years reading the research, trying to educate our children’s school and others and trying to find a solution for our own families nightly homework pains, I appreciate your time and hard work. I am thankful that my three year journey recently resulted in my children, with our parental consent, being granted the right to “opt out” of homework. We, as parents, now have the right to determine those things that what we believe are in our children’s best interest outside of school hours. Our children and family are no longer stressed from the nightly intrusion of homework – especially graded homework – and we are now able to provide our kids with time to read, time to work on their weak areas, practice math facts, musical instruments, engage in extracurricular and religious activities and what ever else life throws our way. However, opting out of homework is clearly not the optimal solution. In my view, doing what you have done is the only way. Like you stated in your article it places all children on a “level playing field”.
Please do not underestimate the positive influence that you have had and continue to have on parents, teachers, administrators and districts and most of all on the students.