Greg Cergol

Homework Debate Divides Parents in Long Island School District

Homework, or no homework?

It's a question that challenges a practice educators have relied on for decades. But parents in one school district are being asked if homework is really a good thing for their kids.

Administrators know what the kids would say, but when asked "Should homework be eliminated?" parents had different responses.

Johnny Martinez's kids are just starting school, and he says homework keeps them focused.

"I'm pretty sure if my daughter didn't have homework she would be playing video games or on the tablet all day," he said. "I wouldn't sign up for that."

On the other hand, moms with older children like Laura Kelly say they face hours of homework every night and it's too much.

"They can have some homework, but not the amount they have," she said. "It's a lot of work."

The debate in the Patchogue Medford school district was sparked by a homework survey posted on the district website. The survey, which included questions like "How involved are you in your child's homework?", was district Superintendent Michael Hynes' idea.

Hynes says it's time for schools to put the age-old tradition to the test. He has already doubled recess times and introduced yoga and meditation in the classroom. The idea, he says, is to find a balance for a generation of kids facing many demands.

"I think it's time that schools test the assumptions we've had for 50 years as far as what's best for kids," he said. "I think academics will improve if we look at the whole child."

Hynes wants parents, teachers and administrators to weigh in on homework. Should it be let as is, scaled back or simply eliminated entirely for kids in grades K through 6? The district expects to make a decision on the homework question later this spring.

Mary Zois says her grandchildren already have enough work during the day, but parent Bob Civitella says a little brain exercise can't hurt.

"Generally, a little bit of homework never hurt anybody," he said.

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