Open Letter to The Principal Pt II: The Saga Continues

Well thank you all for your outpouring of support on the ‘too much homework’ subject. I really don’t know how many of you might be chomping at the bit to hear some follow up, which really wasn’t much, or terribly exciting, but I would feel remiss if I didn’t let you in on some of my findings.

1. Well miracles never cease because the principal did respond to me, but only to refer me to someone else, or as the case may be, quite a few someone elses. He told me to talk to someone who worked at my sons school district and also to consult the teachers. So….
2. I wrote to this someone at the school district (same letter pretty much) and maybe miracles never do cease, because he wrote me back as well. He said that the policies of how much homework was being given to the students were recently reviewed and currently, students in my sons school district, should be receiving 4-8 hours of homework a week. He also suggested contacting the teachers re the homework. So…
3. Now actually the teachers for me are a bit of a touchy subject. As I mentioned before, my son was missing some assignments and the teacher’s had been very helpful to me in helping him catch up so I thought it might not be the best time to completely piss them off. However, I could not resist writing one of my famous strongly worded emails to his honor’s math teacher who is a constant culprit of over-homeworking.
This particular letter was brought on by a pre-algebra math sheet that nearly brought my husband and I to tears and took about 2 hours to complete, including corrections, causing my son to stay up 15 minutes past his bedtime completing assignments. The result of  the letter  was a very angry teacher who denied that the homework assignments were so time consuming and suggested that my son request to transfer out of honors math, which he does not want to do.
4. I did also write back to the man at the school district to tell him that I did actually consult one of the teachers regarding the homework policy, and that the teachers seem to be underestimating the homework assignments and I asked him how, exactly the current policy was being enforced. This time the man who seemed so open and helpful to my questions and correspondence did not get back to me, so I guess miracles do cease.
As for me, I will continue fighting the good fight and, if anything interesting comes of it, I will let you know. But what I am really dying to know is, why kids do have to rewrite entire text book questions when all that is needed is the answer? Seems excessive to me. That’s one for the social studies/science teacher, when the time is right, unless any of you know… thanks.

An Open Letter to The Principal

As Queen of the Strongly Worded Emails, I recently wrote the following letter to my son’s principal regarding the excessive amount of homework he has been getting. Anybody want to give a ‘hell-yeah’?

Hello Mr. Principal

 
My son, Jesse Bergen has started his first year in (school) starting in August. First of all, I would like to say that I appreciate Miller’s friendly attitude and all the attention they give to their 6th graders. Because of that, Jesse’s transition into junior high has been an easy one in that respect.
 
What I do want to discuss with you, is the incredible amount of homework my son has been getting.
 
Last Thursday, I had the misfortune of receiving a phone call from Jesse’s counselor letting me know that Jesse did not do several of his homework assignments. Jesse’s actions, in this capacity, were dishonest and irresponsible and I am in no way condoning or excusing his behavior and he was appropriately punished and made to make up these assignments.
 
However, when I saw the amount of homework Jesse would in fact be getting, a lot of my anger turned to sympathy.
 
After a 7 hour day at school, Jesse is doing 2-4 hours of homework (not counting the make up assignments) more than most full time jobs! This hardly gives him time to pursue his extracurricular activities (Jesse has been studying music for about 3 years now and is a multi-instrumentalist), much less play outdoors, or quite frankly, have any time to be a kid. Jesse definitely understands his work, and though he does lose focus at times, he does not do so excessively.
 
I, as a mother, as well as Jesse’s family, are definitely feeling the effects of this excessive work load. After working at a part time job, I come home and spend much of my time on the internet trying to figure out which assignments are due and missing, and emailing the teachers about this, as well as helping Jesse with his homework. I am depressed and anxious, and this puts a strain on my ability to take care of my 6 year old daughter. Furthermore, it is impossible for us to do anything as a family, like even something so simple as eat out for dinner, since my husband works weekends.
 
I have done some research on this topic before emailing you, and experts recommend that children get 10 minutes of homework for every grade year (Jesse gets a minimum of twice that much). They also have found no correlation between children who do more homework getting better grades or being any more intelligent. There is evidence that teacher’s often underestimate the length of the homework assignments. On a personal note, I find some of the homework thought provoking and educational, if lengthy, but some is simply busy work with an excessive amount of writing.
 
I do not blame (school) for this specifically, nor any of it’s staff or teachers. I have spoken to several parents who have children who attend schools all over the L.A. area and many of them have children who are constantly doing homework, and many of them share my opinion. However, since (school) is my son’s school, I think it’s a pretty good place to start.
 
I am looking forward to hearing your opinions and feedback on this matter and would love to go into more detail on this topic if you wish. I hope you can help me out please. I miss my son.
-Marissa Bergen