After one Florida county bans homework, other counties examine the practice

After one Florida county bans homework, other counties examine the practice
Posted at 12:22 PM, Jul 28, 2017
and last updated 2017-07-28 08:46:29-04

MANATEE CO., FL (WWSB) - Thousands of Florida students won't have to worry about homework next year after Marion County's School Superintendent decided to get rid of it in the district's elementary schools.

The topic is sparking conversation among other Florida school districts, including Manatee County schools, north of Sarasota, according to WWSB.

"I was excited to see 'Wow, here is a district in Florida who's going to go forward with this," said Manatee School Board Chair Charlie Kennedy.

He didn't wait long last week to tweet to his superintendent about a landmark decision in her former school district.

"It was more of a 'Hey, this is what another county is doing, could this work for us?" Kennedy said. 

Marion County Elementary Schools will stop giving daily homework assignments starting this coming school year based on research Kennedy has been following for some time. Children are now required to read for at least 20 minutes every night. Teachers can make some assignments, like science projects and research papers, but not daily homework.

Richard Allington, a professor of Theory and Practice in Teacher Education at the University of Tennessee, told the Washington Post that the quality of homework assigned to children is poor. Replacing homework with reading - and providing resources for reading - would be beneficial to students.

"A student doing 20 to 30 minutes of reading with a parent, or a sibling, or a family member, is much more valuable to that student's educational experience and has provable long-term gains," Kennedy said.

Former school board member and fourth-grade teacher Barbara Harvey agrees. At elementary age, she says students learn much more through reading and counting with parents, than doing homework by themselves.

"Children learn in multiple ways," Harvey said. "To send a child - kindergarten, first, second or even third graders to a room and say 'do your homework' is not a successful way to get the job done."

Kennedy wants to discuss it at a future board meeting, where he won't find support from fellow board member John Colon, an advocate for homework.

"One of the things that is key is every teacher teaches differently. So, why as a school board should we mandate across the entire spectrum of the county, that there's a no homework policy?"

One idea might be allowing principals to decide what's best for their individual school.

This will only apply to elementary schools in Marion County and teachers there will still be allowed to assign projects and such outside of class.

Manatee County Superintendent Diana Greene is on vacation, and could not be reached for comment.

Kennedy believes this would ultimately be her decision.

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