No homework

Since the 1960s, homework has become a ritual part of every child’s day, as much a part of the education system as textbooks and teachers. And in these get-tough days of education reform, few souls dare question this time-honored institution.

But Ray Cushing is one of those souls.

Cushing, a candidate for the West Sacramento school board, argues that homework is not necessary for a child to receive a good education. Cushing is running on a radical “No Homework” platform; that is, he proposes an end to all compulsory work that is required outside of class to receive an “A.”

There have been others like Cushing who question why we take homework as a given. Why do we impose it on families, causing frustration and grief for both parent and child? Are there benefits to forcing the parent to become teacher and taking away a child’s free time?

Cushing wants to bring teaching back into the classroom to “free up time for kids to spend time with families, doing what families like to do, [to] free up time for kids to do things they want to do, and [to] give kids more time to relax.”

He argues that students, particularly junior and high school students, are nightly swamped with at least two hours of homework that makes up roughly 30 percent of their grade. This mandatory work requires students, and often their parents, to do the teaching that Cushing feels should be done in the classroom.

However, according to the Washington School District Superintendent Patrick Campbell, parents of the district’s kids don’t complain much when it comes to the amount of homework their kids bring home. Campbell explains that, on average, only three or four parents call per year to complain.

“Homework has become a part of the education system, and as such I think homework is appropriate when done right,” Campbell said.

Yet Cushing stresses that the current structure of classes is leading to a 30 percent failure rate in grades 7-12. Kids are not receiving enough in-class instruction from teachers who can identify and help kids in their areas of needs.

Cushing said his campaign to trying to get students the “learning in the classroom that they don’t get in the home.”

Sidelines was reported by Traci Sinclair.