JENKINS: Excessive homework holding our family hostage

Hey. Teachers. You know I always have your backs. Now I need some reciprocity, a little quid pro quo: Can you please, please, PLEASE cut back on the homework? It's turning my family's evenings into a living hell.

Yes, yes, I understand the importance of homework. I've been an educator for 26 years. I just believe there are reasonable expectations and unreasonable expectations -- and as much as I hate to say it, some of you are being entirely unreasonable.

Consider my 11th-grader, who has six academic subjects, including three AP courses. Most of his teachers assign anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour of homework each night -- with the AP classes, of course, tending to require more.

That means, after spending seven hours at school, he could (and sometimes does) bring home as much as six hours of homework. I don't know about you, but I don't usually spend 13 hours a day working. That's an unreasonable expectation for a 16-year-old who also plays sports, serves on student council, has church activities, and occasionally likes to sleep.

Well, you say, AP classes are supposed to be college equivalents. They should require more time and effort. Let's examine that statement.

As a college professor for more than a quarter century, I can tell you that we generally follow the 1:2 rule when assigning outside work: for every hour in class, students should spend about two hours outside of class. A typical college class meets for three hours a week; if students also have six hours of homework, then they're working on that class nine hours a week for 16 weeks, or 144 hours total.

To get credit for that "same" course via AP, high school students must put in about 180 hours -- an hour a day for 180 days. That means, if we're talking true equivalency, they should be able to get by with zero homework and still have 36 hours to spare.

And don't even get me started on summer work. Grading students on work they were supposed to do while school wasn't even in session is the most ridiculous thing I've ever heard of. If we tried to do that in college, we'd get our butts sued off.

Hey, there's an idea ...

And by the way, this doesn't just happen in high school. My eighth-grader is inundated on a nightly basis as well. Come on. For a 13-year-old who also (believe it or not) happens to have a life outside of school, 15 minutes of homework per class per night is plenty.

I understand that some of this is driven by all the high stakes testing. But I suspect that most teachers, if they wanted to, could find ways to utilize class time more efficiently, negating the need for so much homework.

That's all I'm asking: just try. Please. My family's evenings are depending on you.

Rob Jenkins is a local freelance writer and college professor. E-mail him at rjenkinsgdp@yahoo.com.


covingtonmom 4 years, 2 months ago

Thanks Rob! I totally agree with you. I have an 8th grader also. He usually doesn't get off the bus until at least 5:00pm then has several hours of homework. It does ruin the evening and makes each week seem very long. School, homework, stop to eat dinner, more homework, go to bed, repeat! Forget activities outside of school. Help us out teachers!


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