When I first read the headline, LAUSD Amends Homework Policy, I was excited. For years, at the school site and throughout the district, I’ve fought the tendency to overwork students for the sake that “they might go to Harvard or Yale some day.” Unfortunately the new policy has little to do with increasing quality family free time or eliminating overworked, overstressed kids.

Over the years, my kids have had teachers who understood the precarious balance of family time–a quick email or note absolved the homework or extended a deadline. Things happen, and sometimes they’re completely out of the control of a student. And other years, there were teachers who could dole out in excess of four hours of homework a night in elementary school–and though I’m not proud of it, I know it took four hours because I actually sat there and did it alongside my child to prove she wasn’t dawdling.

Unfortunately the new mandate does nothing to eliminate the imbalance in homework assigned. Though LAUSD has a loose recommendation of ten minutes per grade level–which would limit high school students to the total of 120 minutes, this new policy simply dictates that teachers may assign no more than 10% of an overall class grade to homework.

Really? Call me underwhelmed. As I read the story this is just another feel-good attempt to help kids who have no intention of doing homework. Even the students quoted in the article aren’t great examples of creating sympathy for limiting the policy. I can see now kids who already aren’t aiming for As deciding they don’t need to do the homework, which will then spiral to poor test taking and more failure. I often worked 25-32 hours a week my senior year in high school, and throughout college–so there’s little sympathy there.

The 10% mandate does nothing to balance the inequity of one teacher assigning one hour a night, and another teacher (same subject) assigning three hours. The student will have to decide if doing three hours is worth 10% or not. The 10% mandate does nothing to help poor test takers or students with difficult home lives.

You have to hand it to LAUSD. Just like South Park’s “Underpants Gnomes,” they’re missing a piece of the equation, but that isn’t stopping LAUSD. This month they’re on a roll. Somehow eliminating chocolate milk will magically translate to less obesity. And now limiting homework to 10% of a grade will magically translate to…(profit!). Honestly, until LAUSD figures out their step 2, they’re being just as silly as the gnomes.

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