No trespassing

What is it about the home life of students that so disturbs the Washoe County District? Why doesn’t the district want each student to have one?

What must families do to keep the school district out of their homes—post No Trespassing signs?

During Watergate, an old quote from William Pitt was frequently cited about the fact that government cannot enter homes—"The poorest man may in his cottage bid defiance to all the forces of the Crown. It may be frail; its roof may shake; the wind may blow through it; the storm may enter; the rain may enter; but the King of England cannot enter—all his force dares not cross the threshold of the ruined tenement!”

Computers and school districts, however, get through the cracks and enter as storms may not—electronically. If the Washoe County School District’s winter “Digital Days” had been allowed to proceed—and fortunately, the Nevada Legislature last week put a stop to them—school districts would have gotten busy and found ways to set up electronic classrooms on snow days. One value to paying top administrators less is that it will keep them closer in touch with the difficulties faced by parents who must juggle work, school, childcare, and the unwelcome interference with that balancing act that Digital Days would be.

We do not understand what possessed Assemblymember Jill Tolles to try to prop up Digital Days and push them forward with legislation that would have kept them alive. Parents made pretty clear their unhappiness with the whole idea, and the school district seemed to back away from the program.

On March 5 there was a Reno Gazette Journal front page that infuriated many parents. There appeared the headline, “WCSD says it will do away with digital days policy.” Then right under it was the subhead, “But district says no end-of-year makeup will be required.”

If no makeup was required, why were the Digital Days scheduled in the first place? Either they served a make-up purpose or not.

Then there is homework, another intrusion into the home. Wall Street Journal: “School districts across the country are banning homework, forbidding it on certain days or just not grading it, in response to parents who complain of overload and some experts who say too much can be detrimental.”

Last year the Washoe County School Board approved a homework policy change that sent mixed signals. The change eliminated mandatory homework in Washoe County schools—but also gave principals leeway to make exceptions of their own campuses. Having a halfway policy is not the kind of leadership the public needs from school board members. The district needs to put a full stop to homework, period, both because it is a well-established drag on learning, and because it will withdraw the district from homes.

If the school district wants to use homes, it needs to pitch in on house payments or rent.