A recent article in the Los Angeles Times “Homework overload: For certain families, enough is enough” states that the LA Unified School District has changed its policy on homework. Teachers will not be permitted to count completed homework as more than 10% towards a student’s grade. I recall working recently with a first-year high school student who hadn’t been assigned math homework since January. 2011.
The article quotes the author of “The Blessing of a B Minus”: “… high school students are being assigned more homework than college students are, and at the same time they are being asked to develop a well-rounded transcript that might include community service, sports or music lessons. … Because the kids are overwhelmed, parents often step in, whether that means nagging about homework, helping with homework, heavily editing homework or even doing the homework. … Then kids go to college and they have been so over-managed, they don’t know how to survive on their own….”
From a Publisher Weekly review: “… Mogel examines the blessings of a B minus, staying up late, hangovers, breaking the rules, and a variety of other teen topics, urging parents not just to look on the bright side, but to help kids benefit from the learning opportunities
inherent in difficult situations. Some of her advice may be challenging for readers to follow: for instance, she recommends that parents refrain from broaching the subject of college until grade 11. …”
The message of the school policy (and of this otherwise seemingly wise parenting author) is that the effort to be the best that one can academically be is clearly not worth it.
In this regard I thank my mother, a poor immigrant from war-torn Germany, for her message to me. I was a latch-key kid in New Jersey from middle school on. She commuted 3 hours daily for her $30 week job in a Wall Street bank. Once when a seventh grader she pointed out to me several homes literally “on the other side of the railroad tracks” – homes that looked awful compared to our extremely modest apartment. She told me that if I skipped attending school or didn’t become a good student I would wind up just like that.
I got the powerful message – it was my choice, I wasn’t entitled to anything but the result of my own effort.
Our means were very modest – I worked to pay for a bike and used it to worked through high school. I sought the company of a neighbor who went to college on the GI Bill. He became a Big Brother and mentor to me. In time I graduated high school in 3 years as a valedictorian and with a scholarship to Columbia University to study mathematics.
Ms. Mogel might suggest that parents point out to their kids the consequences of a failure to get a good education. This must be done early enough so they can prepare properly for getting into the best colleges. This is the guidance and gift of time that every parent can give. If you wait to Grade 11 it is still possible to go to college but it becomes much more difficult. It can then be done only with after-work night school or night work annd classes at a Community College.
The message gets clearer and clearer: After two generations with a tripling of public school funding and no improvement in math learning. And now there is budget cutting, failure to skinny down administrative costs and dwelling on unproductive teaching reforms. The time has come to question the quality of a public school education . It is time to privatize education overall. Parents must now take back the responsibility to arrange to educate their own children – AFTER SCHOOL. This is way too important to leave to any government.