Operation Daddy to the Rescue – Los Angeles

Today’s “Dad on a Mission” is Rafael Ortiz, the father of a 7-year-old second grader in a public elementary school in Los Angeles. Ortiz, who has a B.S. in Kinesiology, takes things into his own hands when his daughter’s teachers don’t respond to his homework concerns.

Operation Daddy to the Rescue
by Rafael Ortiz

Since last year, when my daughter was in first grade, she started to question me about why she had to do homework. She told me that she went to school the whole day and then still had school work to do at home, but her mom didn’t have to bring her work from work. I would tell her it’s because that’s what everyone does- it’s school.

But then I started thinking about it and realized that all this homework gives little time to explore out of the box. My daughter used to asked about underwater life, what’s out in space, loved to solve riddles and liked to invent stuff. But homework is burning her out.

My daughter has been bringing home homework since kindergarten. All of it seemed to be a waste of time; none of it was challenging or interesting. Now, in second grade the homework is still not challenging BUT rather longer. It takes my daughter about one hour and 30 minutes some days. She has lost that happy spark she had and she has started complaining that it’s too long.

I discussed it with the teacher and asked her to show me research on how long homework should be because I felt that my child was getting too much homework. Her response was that it’s the district policy that second graders need to spend 30-35 minutes and that if the student spends more time than that they should not advance to second grade. Knowing my kid I knew right away that this second grade teacher took it personally, but I held my ground and told her that it should be quality rather than quantity. She then said that she had been approached by other parents where they demanded that she give more homework. So I told her then to go ahead and give them more but that I was requesting less for my kid.

So this is the 8th week and we still go back and forth on the homework issue. The teacher still hasn’t modified my kid’s homework, so I took what I called “Operation Daddy to the Rescue,” where I looked at the homework assigned for that day and I choose a few problems (math, English , vocabulary, etc) and I tell my girl to do for example 5 out of 20 math problems and the rest I give her the answers. It seems to be working because her so called weekly test scores have not gone down.

The reason why her teacher says she gives the students a lot of homework is because of some number that schools get assigned every school year by some government test. The higher the number, the more prestigious the school is. Who cares!!! They are using my daughter like a robot – they want output and zero creativity.

For her x-mas vacation I plan to let the teacher know that my 2nd grader has plans and will not do HOLIDAY HOMEWORK!

11 thoughts on “Operation Daddy to the Rescue – Los Angeles

  1. Good for you Mr. Ortiz, not only are you giving your daughter free time, you are engaging her with her schoolwork, and I hope you are taking advantage of fun teaching moments when the homework offers them.

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  2. Bravo, Rafael. Did the teacher really tell you that if your first grader can’t get all her homework done in 35 minutes, she can’t advance to second grade? What is this, Candyland?

    You are doing the right thing. You are taking control of your child and your home. You are aware your little girl is fast losing her spark and you won’t let that happen. We need more parents like you.

    Ignore this teacher. Sadly, she sounds highly inexperienced, ill informed and dare I say it, not all that bright. I’d also be concerned about the quality of education your daughter is getting. Short of pulling her out, kudos to you for using the afternoons to educate her rather than be homework cop, suffering through useless dreadfully designed homework. Use your precious time together to read and learn. Goodness knows, she’s clearly not getting much of that in school.

    Keep doing what you are doing. If you get any flack, take it up the chain. All the way to your school board member if you have to. Don’t let the teacher bully you. Stick to your guns.

    If you must, bring research in, show it to her, politely explain your position, shake her hand, smile and wish her a very nice day.

    FedUpMom, time to bring up Guy Strickland again. We aren’t saying there aren’t good teachers. But this one does inspire an already shaky confidence.

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  3. Rafael writes: “he then said that she had been approached by other parents where they demanded that she give more homework. So I told her then to go ahead and give them more but that I was requesting less for my kid.”

    Parents should practice home, preparing for stock answers to any points thrown at you. This is a classic one, right up there with “you are the only parent complaining.”

    When a teacher says this, smile and say, fine. Then give it to THEM. Make that point very clear. The parents who clamor for more homework, help yourselves and take as much as you need. But I’m not eating at this pris fixe dinner..

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  4. Now there’s an engaged parent…who takes his role very seriously. Welcome Mr. Ortiz…I wish more parents would pay attention to what’s really going on with their kids. Your daughter is learning, a) that she has support from home b) that she is listened to, and c) that she can escape from binds. She will be a powerful learner.

    That last one is related to the pleasing trap that humans get into…they find themselves in situations where they don’t feel good about what they’re doing but they don’t feel they have any power over their situation. It results in helplessness and depression very often. But here, you’ve made the work managable for her, so she’s still doing her schoolwork, but she’s not burdened by it.

    It’s the same for adults too..When do we feel stressed? When we have more than we can handle…when we have the right amount of work for us (everyone has a different threshold) we don’t feel the stress and pressure.

    The amount of work that kids can handle changes as they mature, but burning them out at age 6 doesn’t give them good skills for managing workload.

    Bravo Daddy!

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  5. Congratulations, Rafael! What a lucky little girl your daughter is, to have a daddy like you! You have learned quickly to create a manageable balance for your family. Your daughter will enjoy the opportunity to become a more well rounded individual, because of it.

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  6. I wrote earlier: “But this one does inspire an already shaky confidence.”

    Does NOT, meant to write. “Does NOT inspire an already shaky confidence.” Ooops. Talk about leaving out the operative word.

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  7. “The reason why her teacher says she gives the students a lot of homework is because of some number that schools get assigned every school year by some government test. The higher the number, the more prestigious the school is. Who cares!!! They are using my daughter like a robot – they want output and zero creativity.”

    Excellent reason! Demonstrating yet again that it’s not about the child, it’s about the school.

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  8. Hello Rafael
    I live in Portugal and I have the same problem with my 7 year old son. He is in 3rd grade and I’m going to speak with his teacher by next week.
    It seems to be the same problem all around the globe! What are they doing to our children?

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  9. Homework in kindergarten? Really?? Wow. I don’t recall having homework until the 5th grade, at least and it was usually math.
    I funnly intend on sending my son to a private or charter school when he is old enough to attend and, being an educational psychologist, will sit in on a few of his classes and audit them to make sure the teachers know what they’re doing.

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  10. To AirborneVet:

    You should do alot of reading on this site….I also work in psychology (not educational) and have learned a wealth of information about the state of education in both the US and Canada from following this site. The “I Hate Reading Logs” thread has been the most commented on.

    And don’t think that private school offers an escape from all the madness either. I consider my daughter’s school to be excellent but they still adhere to archaic ideas about homework and also prescribe reading logs from Kindergarten on. One must be involved, from a monitoring perspective at the very least, and question when things seem at odds with “sense”.

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