Thursday, October 18, 2012

Red State, Blue State

Recently, French President Francois Hollande has proposed a ban on homework. This has captured interest around the world. President Hollande’s reasoning follows his socialist perspective and appears intended to level the educational playing field. This makes sense and coincides with a point made by homework critics before.  What I find interesting is that the policy President Hollande advocates should appeal to social conservatives as well.

In reality, homework is an activity in which the state, through its teachers, takes control of the home. Homework is not just assigned by teachers, but it is enforced with grades that are disproportionate to the volume of the work. Homework may factor in 25% of the grade even though it should take about 10% of the student’s total educational time (home and school combined).  Work not done garners zeros which, mathematically, have a far more negative effect than subpar work (e.g. 60%) that is done in school. Because of this, the decisions of the teachers can cause panic among parents and serve to override their authority at home.

So, with an election coming up and considering our traditional red state, blue state divide, let’s think about homework as an area for common concern.

Liberals: You should be outraged by the inequity of education that gets exacerbated by homework, which serves to increase the disparities due to economic differences.

Conservatives: You should be outraged the way in which homework intrudes on the family and the home.

Dr. Kenneth Goldberg, is the author of The Homework Trap: How to Save the Sanity of Parents, Teachers, and Students, published by Wyndmoor Press.


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