The Homework Controversy That's Brewing

Time Magazine recently reported on the homework controversy.  With school back in swing, the debate is brewing again.  At the center of the debate is Brandy Young, a second-grade teacher in Texas who told parents she would not formally assign homework this year.  Instead she is encouraging kids to eat dinner with their families, play outside and go to bed early.

Parents who think their kids shouldn't be assigned heavy loads of homework are praising the approach.  Other parents worry that kids will lose an academic advantage if they aren't assigned homework.

For years, the National PTA and National Education Association has supported the standard of 10 minutes of homework per grade level.  Following this guideline, high school seniors should be completing 2 hours of homework each night.

But some schools have decided to extend the school day and shorten the homework load.  An elementary school in Massachusetts is piloting a no-homework program by adding two hours to the school day.  Their strategy is for kids to go home at 4 o'clock and have the rest of the evening to be with their families and enjoy activities such as sports or clubs.

The homework question is being debated by educational leaders across the country.  Harris Cooper, a psychology professor at Duke University, has conducted extensive research and found evidence that homework leads to better performance in school.  And he found that it improves study habits, self-discipline and problem solving skills.  On the other hand, he also found that excessive homework can lead to physical and emotional fatigue and create negative attitudes toward learning.  His conclusion was that a small amount of homework is useful for all students.

Other experts don't agree with Cooper.  Cathy Vatteroot, an education professor at the University of Missouri, says there is not sufficient evidence that homework is helpful at the elementary level.  She supports eliminating homework for younger kids.

What do you think?  Should kids be assigned homework?  If so, how much?  Share your thoughts with us in the comment section below.