I'm in Houston in a hotel room getting changed after a dip in the hotel pool with the kids. I turned on the TV to find something for the kids to watch while I get dressed, and saw a few seconds of sf writer Greg Bear on the Daily Show with John Stewart. (I just saw Greg a couple of days ago in Seattle.) Bear was promoting his new book Quantico.
So The Case Against Homework by Sarah Bennett & Nancy Kalish arrived in the mail. And look what I've found on pp. 71-72:
Even Lisa Jacobson, the head of her own tutoring company, balked last year when her son's fourth-grade teacher at their public school in Chappaqua, New York, insisted that she help him through his three hours of homework each night. "I said, I don't want to tutor him," Lisa recalls. "But the teacher said, 'You have to be the tutor. In a town like this, where real estate values depend on how good the school are and test scores, I'm expected to teach kids at a certain level so that when they go to middle school next year, they are completely prepared. I can't do that by myself all day. So I need the parent to continue at home.'"
My son, on two medications to meet the demands of school, is in the same grade and district as the child discussed above. I've heard that speech, although it didn't get as far as real estate values. I cut the teacher off when she started to talk about the demands of standardized testing by saying that the testing was for the benefit of the state, not my son, who has already been tested up one side and down the other and that I didn't care how he scored on the standardized tests.
There are only three elementary schools in our district, so there is a 1/3rd chance my son attends the same school she was talking about. When he was in first grade, they moved the 5th graders out of the elementary school and into the middle school. The move has turned out to be more than symbolic. A number of times, when I have complained about the demands the school places on my son, the school psychologist has reminded me how soon he will be in middle school.
But what is most disturbing about the passage from the book is the remark about real estate values. There's something to that. One of the nasty bits of No Child Left Behind is that schools can be labeled "failing" if they don't show sufficient improvement. Our elementary school principal remarked on this in something sent to us by the school a while back.
So. If our kids are working to save our real estate values, how much should they be paid per hour for doing excessive homework?