New York School District Ends Homework For Students

by Bamidele Ogunberu Posted on June 8th, 2018

Long Beach, New York, USA: The Long Beach School District sent home a letter to parents, on Thursday, saying that homework is canceled in Long Beach School District starting this fall. Schools Superintendent, Jennifer Gallagher, cited research saying that homework doesn’t have much an effect on lower-grade-level students in the note to parents.

Gallagher added that should any students wish to do math or science work at home they can, but she advised parents to make sure the priority is “reading” and not spending more time watching television or playing video games.

Long Beach Public Schools said elementary school children learn more when they read for fun, so they’ll encourage parents to help kids read about things that interest them.

“Speaking of making things better, can we talk about homework? Homework is one of those elementary school practices that has endured for hundreds of years because we just assume that it must help, right?

But there is a ton of research suggesting that homework in the elementary grades doesn’t help much at all. Homework does have a positive effect on achievement in middle school and high school, but not in the elementary grades.

What DOES help elementary students is to read at home, but many students are sacrificing reading time because they’re too tired by the time they finish their homework.

The U.S. Department of Education found that, generally, the more students read for fun on their own time, the higher their reading scores. In addition, we have heard the call of parents to give students more time for another key aspect of childhood development, PLAY. We will be adding short “brain breaks” in every elementary classroom in the fall to give students a bit more opportunity to move and play. But we want to do more.

So, beginning in September, we will be eliminating “traditional” elementary homework. Instead,we are asking every child and every family to WRaP every night: WONDER, READ, and PLAY…” Gallagher wrote

The idea started as a petition from fifth-graders Christopher DeLeon and Niko Keelie at Farley Elementary School in Stony Point and grew from there, but it’s also part of of a bigger nationwide trend.

“I got stressed by homework a lot, so I just — it took me a minute of thinking — I want to get rid of homework,” said Keelie.

The two boys decided to write a petition and present it to the school district making their case. They said most of their classmates agreed with their proposal — and it turned out the school district also agreed.

In fact, the district had already considered reimagining their homework policy.

“It’s really not about banning homework or no homework — it’s about rethinking it, and how can we do it different to better the needs of our students,” said assistant superintendent Kris Felicello.

National school districts all over the country are experimenting with either eliminating homework or drastically reducing it, citing studies that have shown homework in elementary school doesn’t actually help with learning and sometimes can hurt.

“If you go home and you do homework, you’re just thinking about that, and then you stutter and stuff,” said DeLeon. “But if you don’t, then you’re relaxed and calm, and if you take a test more calmly, you get a better grade ’cause you’re not thinking about other stuff.”

But not everyone agrees. Many parents have asked, if their children don’t do homework, what will they do in the afternoon — and how will they learn?

Felicello’s response to that: “I hope that kids would go home and they would read and they would discover things that they’re interested in doing, and go on YouTube and figure out how to play the ukulele, or go and research what’s going on with Space X, or talk to their friends or get outside and play.”

Last month, another New York school district announced they were considering getting rid of homework after a petition from elementary school students.The Rockland County School District said they were mulling a proposal from a pair of fifth-graders who sta rted a petition and presented it to the district, citing stress from homework.

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Bamidele Ogunberu

Bamidele Ogunberu

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