Proposal to Scale Back on Homework in Toronto Unanimously Passes Committee Vote

The Toronto committee formed to reassess homework unanimously passed the proposed new policy. The proposal will be put to a vote before the entire School Board on April 16.

Frank Bruni, a parent who has been a driving force for change, made a presentation in support of the proposed policy at the Committee meeting. Here’s what he said:

by Frank Bruni

Albert Einstein said, “Teaching should be such that what is offered is perceived as a valuable gift and not as a hard duty” yet every day children across Toronto are burdened with excessive amounts of homework; causing the gift we wish to give them to be perceived as punishment.

As an executive recruiter I have seen first hand the effects of our 24/7 always on society, where adults work long into the night and working on the weekend is commonplace. So when we talk about reducing the amount of homework many adults scratch their heads and say that we are not preparing our children for the future that they will face.

Yet we know from research, some of which was used to produce the report before you, that this kind of workload, this kind of lifestyle is harmful, for both adults and children. We know that the incidence of childhood obesity and childhood diabetes is on the rise and the T.D.S.B.’s own research shows student stress alarmingly high. Indeed, a federal report in 2006 suggested that this is the first generation of children who can expect a shorter life expectancy than their parents.

So if we can’t change our own frenetic lifestyle, we at least owe it to our children to change theirs. It’s always been a mystery to me why adults these days seem hell-bend to deny their children the kind of childhood we had.

When we talk about homework we typically discuss the length of time that should be allotted. This is a valuable discussion to be sure, but I have always felt that homework should be considered in the context of a child’s entire day. That is, the total number of hours daily that a child spends on education. When we do that I believe it gives us a better perspective and puts the discussion of homework in is proper context.

The Toronto District School Board is charged with developing policies to insure consistency in how education is delivered to all students.

Nowhere is that consistency more important than with the issue of homework. Because of its broad implications on student health and its impact on the quality of family life homework stands alone as an issue of exceptional significance for all student’s, parents, and teachers.

There are many opinions about homework, some based on fact and research, and some based on emotion and gut instinct. That is why, in its wisdom, the T.D.S.B caused a study to be done by staff so that any change to homework policy would be grounded in the best possible research and also reflects the wishes of students, parents, and teachers. That is the report before you.

I am here to support the report and to urge this committee to pass it and put it in front of the entire board. More importantly; however, I am urging all trustees to support its adoption as policy.

The proposed new policy represents a significant step forward in insuring that student’s homework commitments are consistent with a balanced lifestyle and a strong family life.

I know that there are some trustee’s uncomfortable with homework reform. They may feel that it represents interference in the classroom. This view; however, is not consistent with data collected at the public consultations. Indeed the public consultations revealed strong support for homework reform among teachers. The head of the elementary teachers union has endorsed the report calling it “a step in the right direction”

Trustees can vote in favour of this new policy confident that it represents the best thinking available and is supported by the broadest number of stakeholders possible. Indeed it would be counterintuitive not follow its recommendations when that is what the board asked for.

In conclusion, let me say that I believe that professor Einstein was right. Let’s make Toronto the most progressive school system in North America on homework reform, an example for other jurisdictions to follow.

I urge you to support the report and to vote in favour of the new policy on homework.

11 thoughts on “Proposal to Scale Back on Homework in Toronto Unanimously Passes Committee Vote

  1. I found your site via the edublog posting about this. I was just looking for people interested in cooking for their kids, and stumbled across a discussion of one of my pet peeves. My 7-year-old daughter routinely gets homework that takes her at least a half-hour to do.

    Now that it’s getting warm out, my wife prefers to play outside with the kids until I come home from work. Which is great. But the I do the homework with her after dinner. Sometimes it seems the only interaction I have with my kids is telling the older one to stick to her homework, and the younger one to leave us alone until we finish.

    I’m glad to see that somewhere there are people working to break this stupid cycle. No one who’s studied homework thinks it’s doing kids any good, but parents have been conditioned since *they* were kids that it works.

    Good luck with this. I’d love to have a precedent to point to when I approach my daughter’s school.



  2. It is so sad that people feel the need to post vulgarities and to debase what is for most of us a serious and consuming issue; homework and how it impacts our children, our families, our lives. (see comments above)

    I can’t be certain but my guess is the above lewd unacceptable pieces of on line vandalism were committed by our young people. How sad they feel so disenfranchised and disaffected by their education. How unfortunate they were never taught to write better than this. How heartbreaking that when they go to school, if they indeed go, the above posters don’t find anything of value in those middle and high school halls to enrich their lives, mold their character and make them better citizens.

    Hear ye, hear ye, public school boards. This is what you are churning out. Exhibit A.



  3. The vulgarities I reference above were blessedly removed. If you saw them, you know what I was referring to. Thanks, Sara, for taking them off. Comments like that have no place on such a thoughtful forum.



  4. that quote form albert einstien was a very affective use of a quote. I found it was very catching, you dont find many affective quates like that one. I really appreciate things like that 🙂


  5. i personaly and stronger wish they would just ban homework, i work for the education center and i’ve noticed my son comes home with atleast 2 hours of homework a day. I really dont see the point in that because it only gives him a little while to be a kid and enjoy himself.


    -Jack Rodden


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