Editorial: Dos Pueblos homework policies need attention now.
February 14, 2012
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The Charger Account Editorial Board | February 14, 2012
Last month, the Dos Pueblos administration and faculty participated in a lively discussion concerning the value of homework–an issue that is not only front and center in the minds of Dos Pueblos students, parents, and teachers, but is also being debated throughout the nation.
The Charger Account applauds Principal Carey, Vice Principal Gleason and the Dos Pueblos faculty for beginning the conversation on this issue by surveying students, parents and teachers, and then sharing the results of this survey with the staff. We also are eagerly looking forward to publishing the results of the survey for our readers.
The fear, however, is that taking action on this issue will prove to be too complex and controversial for our administration to go beyond the talking stage. With varying points of view and differing attitudes amongst the DPHS faculty regarding homework, will the administration be able to deliver meaningful and positive change to the student body?
Instead of waiting for the staff to agree on each aspect of the issue, we believe the administration should adopt the following policies school-wide. Taking action immediately will ensure that the talk is converted to positive change.
Step #1: No homework on holidays, weekends, or school vacations.
Teachers demand student attention from eight in the morning until nearly three in the afternoon and also encourage students to engage in extracurricular sports and clubs. Homework assignments that must be completed over weekends, holidays, and school vacations cut significantly into student family life and the downtime necessary for students to re-energize for school. Schools such as Ridgewood High School which introduced a homework-free winter break, and the Galloway school district in New Jersey already have policies against weekend or holiday homework, and more schools and districts throughout the country are considering similar policies. Doing so at DPHS, would be more than just a symbolic step. It would signal to the students that the staff respects the need for students’ physical and mental rest.
Step #2: Coordinate test days and lengthy projects.
Steps should be taken to ensure that students do not have multiple tests or projects due on the same day. If tests are piled onto the same day, students will be up all hours of the night studying, which not only impacts their health but most likely impacts the student performance. Coordinating due dates and projects isn’t as difficult as it may sound. Already on our campus, teachers of IB meet and organize a calendar of projects and tests so that students know well in advance when the assignments are due. With our electronic EDU system, coordinating assignments would be an easy step to take to ensure that the students aren’t swamped on any said day. Besides being easier on the students, they would also be prepared and well rested because they only have one activity for which to prepare.
Step #3: No ‘busy work’
According to the homework survey, there is a feeling among many students that teachers believe that if they do not give a homework assignment, that they are not doing their jobs. Likewise, there are teachers who believe that simply giving homework makes their courses rigorous. We at the Charger Account would like the staff to be able to feel supported if they choose to relax on the homework front just a little bit by only assigning homework that serves a compelling educational mission. Instead of crossword puzzles, mind-numbing notes, or completing the same math problem 40 times, teachers should make homework interactive and assign projects that are interesting to students. With the availability of Khan Academy videos and the ability of students to work together via technology, teachers can create homework assignments that are creative, rigorous and relevant. In short, teachers should think outside the box when they force students to work outside the classroom.