Moms (and Dads) on a Mission–Indianapolis, Indiana: “I Refuse to Sign a Homework Pledge”

At the beginning of the school year, Kristi, the mother of a second grader in public school in Indianapolis, IN, refused to sign a “pledge” that she would do hours of homework with her child. Here’s what she did, why, and the outcome:

I refuse to sign a homework pledge
by Kristi

In the first week of school my child brought home a “pledge” for her and me to sign together. In this “pledge”, I was to do at least 3 hours of homework a night with my daughter. My daughter is in second grade and I found that profoundly idiotic, especially considering that she isn’t even released from school until 3:40 pm and is usually in bed by 8:30 pm to get the proper amount of sleep. There is no possible way for her to complete 3 hours of homework, nor is it necessary.

Needless to say, I refused to sign it.

They made a big fuss but, I stood my ground.

Unfortunately, she attends an inner-city school and they are more concerned about test scores and grant funding than making school a fun learning environment. I don’t want to move because of the school district and was willing to give them a chance. I have lived with their outrageous rules and regulations since Kindergarten and I’m fed up with demands. I read with my child nightly, she has a library card and we go weekly together, and she also is in a book club. We do flash cards and spend tons of time on Wikipedia learning about things that interest her. I feel she gets more out of that time with me than going to school but, like many mothers out there, I can’t stay home and teach her myself.

The Outcome
The Principal and her teacher both fussed at me regarding not signing the “pledge”. After several attempts to talk me into it, I still refused and they eventually gave up. Of course, they tried to say that this “pledge” is a district mandate and everyone must sign it. I simply told them that it was not my mandate and it was never discussed with me or any other parent who sends their child to a school in this district. Therefore, I would not sign it and there was nothing that they could say to make me change my mind. I also interjected that I could not teach my daughter to uphold her morals, beliefs and values if I did not do the same by example. I believe that statement is what hit home for the Principal and is partially the reason why she eventually dropped the issue. My daughter is a very successful second-grader and has proven as such by being a honor roll recipient and has had no issues in keeping up with her peers in the classroom. She’s achieved this accomplishment as well as receiving Good Citizenship and Perfect Attendance awards and did so without doing three hours of homework every evening.

I would say to all the other parents out there that it is time for us to stand up and tell the schools that we want change. The only way that this can be accomplished is for each one of us to take an active part in knowing what and how our children are being taught.

7 thoughts on “Moms (and Dads) on a Mission–Indianapolis, Indiana: “I Refuse to Sign a Homework Pledge”

  1. Bravo! Three hours of homework for a second grader. I am so glad you stood your ground and showed that principal. She is clearly very ill informed about children and their needs and if you all work together, you can boot her out. Everything she mandates runs counter to what children need, who they are, and how they make sense of their world.

    Kristi, doesn’t sound as if you need further ammunition, but for those who do, write to national figures (David Elkind, Harris Cooper, our very own esteemed Sara Bennett) and include their responses. David Elkind for example is passionate about children and he has decried the hurried child and the play-less outdoo-less child for decades. Get him on your side.

    I agree it is time for parents to stand up. Do not assume school officials know better than you. They do not. Go in there with research, do what Kristi did, tell them you cannot teach your child morals and principals if you cave at the slightest indignity.

    It is so sad that inner city schools are this obsessed with test scores. It would be funny if it weren’t so sad because reading and writing all afternoon (my daughter’s preferred activities) will do more to raise those silly scores than all the pointless worksheets combined. You have school officials crazed about higher scores and they are shooting themselves in the foot! Who died and left these sorry people in charge?

    I live in the DC area and Michelle Rhee, the new DC Chancellor is hailed as a messiah. Her grand mission – raising test scores in her inner city schools. She calls this “giving the children an excellent education.” The sad thing is that so many of us have swallowed this garbage for so long.

    We should all research the child labor movement. I remember reading that what finally mobilized the public is images of children walking to work in the dark. Yet countless middle and high schoolers around this country catch buses in the pitch blackness. Where are the protests, the placards, the refusal to comply today?

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  2. Hey, I write over at Mom is Teaching (www.momisteaching.com) and I am new to the homework crap from a parents perspective but I fought it as a teacher and have listened as parents have complained but done nothing in recent years.

    So, I say, kudos to you for doing what you feel is right. You are exactly right in that showing your daughter how to stand up for what she believes in is just as important as any homework skill will ever be.

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  3. You are my hero! You should be held up as a positive example for other scared parents. Not only did you stop a whole year of utter foolishness and wasted time- you showed your daughter that her mother “has her back.” This is so powerful. Think about it: when there is something that she does not want to do, and you insist that she does it, she will know that it is important and meaningful. I know our email addresses are not posted, but please feel free to contact me at

    homeworkfamilyanswers@gmail.com

    I would love to talk to you and find out what else happened!

    Angela Tyler

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  4. I second Angela. You saved your daughter an entire year of worthless but entirely time consuming drudgery. You reclaimed your daughter’s childhood. She will only be seven once in her life. Don’t blow it. Your principal doesn’t care, it’s not her child. Your job in life is not to serve your principal’s needs, it’s to serve your own and your family’s. You stood up and you are a blueprint for other parents. I’ve been angling for a revolution. It’s time.

    Never sacrifice your entire family on the alter of academic performance.

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  5. Kristi — just wanted to add my voice to the chorus of “Bravo”! Good for you. 3 hours of homework is too much for a high school student, let alone a second grader. I’m amazed that they would even consider such a thing.

    These district mandates amaze me. Where do they get the right to tell parents how to spend time with their kids?

    You might consider putting together a group of like-minded parents. In hindsight, I wonder if I might have gotten better results at the public school if I had organized a group. And it’s probably a good idea to start organizing before the next obnoxious demand comes along.

    Anyway, hats off to you. Your daughter is lucky to have such a good advocate.

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  6. Thanks to all of you who have posted such wonderful and supportive comments! It’s a great feeling to receive all of this positive reinforcement. It reinforces that my fight against teaching children just for the sake of a test score in public school systems isn’t just my fight. Most of all, thanks to Sara for having a forum where like-minded parents can share their ideas and experiences.

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  7. Bravo!!! I have a HUGE issue with this homework problem in schools and just reading your experience has really empowered me to really go in and fight for my kids to get their afternoons back and not spend them doing pointless homework just because the school thinks its important to their test scores!

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