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School Board rejects plan to dictate homework levels
By ROBERT KING
© St. Petersburg Times, published June 30, 2000
BROOKSVILLE -- The School Board decided Thursday against a sweeping rule on how much homework students should receive, instead opting to leave such decisions up to teachers and their schools.
In the fall, the board seemed poised to set specific requirements for each grade level that would have heaped an increasing amount of homework on students as they progressed through each grade.
Students in kindergarten through third grade would have had five to 20 minutes per day at least one night a week. High school students would have been held to at least four nights a week with 75 minutes to two hours of work.
But the board relented Thursday after reviewing a series of letters that indicated there was broad opposition from teachers and parents' groups to any time-specific homework rule.
"It is our opinion that the teacher is the most qualified professional to determine what each individual student requires," wrote Ana Trinque, the chairwoman of Hernando High's school advisory council.
That theme, which was reiterated from several schools, came through to the board loud and clear.
"The very people we are supposed to be serving are telling us to mind our own business," said School Board member Jim Malcolm, who was the most outspoken supporter for a strict homework rule.
Malcolm and other board members grew interested in a specific homework policy after they heard some parents complain that their kids never have to do homework or that they had so little they were able to finish it in class.
Some teachers and district officials expressed skepticism at the idea that kids never have homework. Instead, they said it's likely that those children simply aren't doing their homework. A few teachers said at least half their students simply refused to turn in homework assignments.
For years, district policy books have contained only some very brief references to the importance of homework in reinforcing classroom lessons, that it should be meaningful work and that kids should be held accountable for doing it.
The board agreed Thursday to add some language to its policy to elaborate further on its view that homework is important, including a "suggested" guideline for homework that the board originally wanted to be a "mandatory" guideline.
That change must get formal approval at a future board meeting.
© St. Petersburg Times. All rights reserved.