This is not a surprising result. But it goes beyond teachers and principals and into a basic understanding of hierarchical relationships. Corporations function well when they have good leaders working in rational systems with clear organizational charts, which define relationships and lines of authority. The implications, however, go beyond a simple question of how do we get great principals to also what are the structures we need to bring out the best in the principals we have. For that, we have to keep decision-making in those rational lines of authority and make sure we do not micromanage our principals and other staff. We also need to extend the concept of hierarchy to the home, with a clear understanding that homework is an activity that traverses the lines of authority between home and school. It is a requirement that comes from the school to be done in the home. It puts parents in positions of responsibility without authority and, as a result, insures negative outcomes when homework problems arise. This does not mean we need to dismantle the homework system, but it does mean we need to revisit questions of consequences and decision-making for children who have trouble getting their work done.
Dr. Kenneth Goldberg, is the author of The Homework Trap: How to Save the Sanity of Parents, Teachers, and Students, published by Wyndmoor Press.