Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Brainstorm to Opt Out

Recently, KSP sent the following comment to StopHomework. With her permission, I'm reposting it here. I hope some of my regular readers will have some useful ideas. Please chime in!

KSP says:

Hi, it’s me again after a year of silence.

So I found a group of like-minded mothers this summer after negotiating to opt out for a year individually.

We went to meet with the principal before school, and our concerns around stress from homework were communicated to the teachers.

There seems to be less homework this year and the homework seems to be more meaningful.

On Back to School night, the teachers send messages like, “let’s not make homework stressful.” “let’s make it fun.”

Great progress.

But, here is what I am not happy about.

Today I received a new and updated school homework policy, which added kindergarten.

Please look at the time assigned for each grade:
K: 15-20 minutes.
1: 20-25 minutes
2: 25-30 minutes
3: 30-35 minutes

Reading is assigned in addition. It’s much more than the 10 min. per grade rule especially in the lower grade.

Also, in the policy, there is still a consequence to not doing homework.
I tried opting out last year and my son’s report card’s homework section was marked down. I thought the teacher and I had agreement it was more of my choice to opt out.

There are other parents who don’t come to meetings, but voiced that they will support us. There is a teacher or two and a board member who support us too. At the same time, there is the other end of extreme who wants more homework and more rigorous curriculum.

My group wants to make “opt-out without consequence” a formal policy. How realistic is that in this education climate of high pressure and top-down approach? How can we make this happen?

Please help me think this through.

@KSP, I wish you all the success in the world. "Opt out without consequence" is a great idea.

And it really gets my goat that homework in kindergarten is now considered normal. AARGH! I saw a comment on another blog where a mother described her child's school as child-friendly because "there's no homework before first grade." Sigh.


  1. KSP, I know this is rough. I wish I'd taken more action when my daughter was little. Little solace, but at least her private school was more reasonable.

    There's a conclusion we reached on stophomework.com, from whence many of us here came from. There's no messy middle. There's no "good homework policy" in elementary and that goes triple for the younger years. It just has to be none. I'd shoot for that. Unequivocal. The problem is in that ambiguous language. That's why NONE is better. It's clear. It's direct. It's concrete. I know. Easier said than none. But what's the worst that can happen? They can't shoot your kid.

    For example, my daughter's high school principal promised NO HOMEWORK ON HOLIDAYS when my daughter was a freshman. But there continued to be homework, and it only went up, not down, let alone vanished. So I emailed the principal. He seemed to forget he ever promised homework-free holidays and responded, each teacher may only assign one assignment and they are not permitted to accelerate the curriculum. Huh?

    Oh, it gets better. If my daughter discovers the curriculum has in fact been "accelerated," she is to go to a counselor. The counselor will determine if it's a time management issue (because the counselor lives with us, you see) and if it is not, the school will address the issue.

    See the charade? Therefore you must Just Say No. I'm not a crazy radical. I KNOW how hard it is to trailblaze and be a pioneer. But if you do nothing else today, I implore you to listen to me. If you do not, you will live to regret it. You will suffer the consequences later. Mark my word. Don't go there.

    I'm sorry. Take it from someone with more wisdom and years. More wisdom only because been there done that, we came, we saw, we went. She graduated high school...

  2. ** Easier said than done ** Not ** none **. Or maybe it's just a good old Freudian slip.