On Tuesday, August 21, a parent posted a contract on the Stop Homework Facebook page that he was given by his child’s teacher. It was posted as a voluntary contract, although it is hard to imagine that many parents are sitting back pondering whether or not to agree to its terms. The parent who posted this contract viewed it as arrogant, and I totally agree. Among the terms, the contract asked the parent to provide a good space for the child to do the homework, to limit television and video game time, to check homework regularly, and so forth. The parent, understandably indicated he would not sign the contract.
Although I support the parent totally for making this decision, I have another thought. What about signing the contract and stapling a “voluntary contract” for the teacher to sign and return to the parent. And since situations like this are probably going on throughout the country, why don’t we create a sample, voluntary contract for parents to return to the teachers with the contracts they sign.
I’m going to take the liberty of composing my own such contract. Feel free to cut and paste it into your own contract. I also invite anyone to leave a comment with important terms they think I might have been left out. Perhaps, we can collectively create a standard contract for teachers to sign. Instead of calling it arrogance, let’s give teachers the benefit of the doubt, and view this contract as the first step in a dialogue between parents and teachers.
Here are the terms I would most like to see in the contract:
I, teacher for ______________________ have read and agree to abide by the following:
1. I will only assign homework that is important and meaningful for the educational process.
2. I recognize that the parents are the rightful heads of the home and that my homework assignments are made with their tacit permission, permission they can withdraw.
3. If educational problems arise, I will meet with the parents to address those problems with the understanding that I am the head of the parent-teacher team for matters going on at school (i.e. classwork and classroom behavior) and that the parent is the head of the parent-teacher team for matters going on at home (i.e. homework).
4. I affirm that I am familiar with the homework research and debate and will take that into account when assigning homework. If I am not familiar with the research and debate, I promise to become familiar with it during the coming year.
Signature of Teacher ____________________________________Date__________________________
Dr. Kenneth Goldberg, is the author of The Homework Trap: How to Save the Sanity of Parents, Teachers, and Students, published by Wyndmoor Press.