Hudson - Litchfield News June 10, 2011 - 3
The Word Around Town... Letters to our Editor
Please Help Us Find Our Missing Classmates
The Alvirne High School classes of 1984- 1987 are hosting a multi-class bash reunion on August 13. It will be an all-day affair with other activities scheduled over the weekend. The reunion committee needs help finding and contacting our lost classmates. For more information, go to the Website www.ahs- multiclass-reunion.com
, or contact Todd at 424-5577.
Alana Susko - Hudson
Should Homework be Collected and Corrected?
I would like to congratulate Dr. Elaine Cutler for devoting her regular column to clearing up misconceptions about homework. I cannot find one word I would have wrote differently. Every line is factual and tells parents and citizens of Litchfield exactly how the process works. Being that I hear about this process regularly, I have become accustomed to the language used while listening to the professional educators in our district and empathize with those parents asking me to help clarify and add my perspective. I thought I would try and explain it in a way that I have personally experienced with my two sons in the schools. While I agree that Dr. Cutler’s article is indeed a description of the current process, I would like to share with you why I believe we need to enhance it and provide a more rigorous environment for our children that cost no taxpayer dollars. Here is a partial breakdown of Dr. Cutler’s explanation: Griffin Memorial School (GMS): 10 minutes of homework is assigned for each grade level a child is in. First grade – 10 minutes, second grade – 20 minutes, third grade – 30 minutes, etc., but most importantly, “All work is corrected and checked by the teacher and the child is given credit for completing this work.” As I have seen firsthand and all of you that have children at GMS have seen, this is the model of how the homework process should work. GMS should be commended for its recognition that this process is vital to our children’s educational growth. At Litchfield Middle School (LMS), the picture becomes a bit cloudier. Dr. Cutler states “If … an assignment, project, or special activity is given for homework that will be assessed for accuracy, students will be made aware of the specific criteria they will be assessed on.” By “accuracy,” she means that it will be graded. Graded is an entirely different concept than is correcting. Grading is part of your child’s grade. It is measuring
your child’s ability to do the work and will be weighted more heavily in the final grade unlike correcting for “completeness,” which simply assigns a 100 percent for turning something in, regardless of whether the child answered one or all questions correctly. “Homework is always graded for completion and, at times, for accuracy.” This is the crux of my concern. From firsthand experience and a stack of papers at home, usually found at the bottom of my son’s locker or book bag, is many, many assignments, never collected by teachers. Included in those papers are self-check templates, where answers to the problems are passed out to the kids for self- correction. Afterwards, a teacher asking if there were any questions is the extent of the review. How can we expect our children at middle school while going through the most awkward stage of life be expected to raise their hands in front of their peers and put themselves at the pointed end of potential ridicule? They aren’t! How many of your middle-schoolers give you any pushback at home? How many of your pre-teens and teens will quickly perceive (correctly or incorrectly) that their work matters little in the grand scheme? Their own shortsightedness never realized because they have yet to come to an age where wisdom is realized. They are, after all, kids. At Campbell High School (CHS), the outlook is even grimmer as our kids are given the choice to do homework or not. If they “pass” or “master” their competencies (grade of 65 percent), then they do not have to do any work at all. Remember, folks—cram for a test, do the absolute minimum, and still graduate. Is that what we want for our children? Or in the end, would you prefer they be held to even higher standards? I will hold my final judgment about CHS until I actually have a child there. However, it seems to me that most of my learning happened when I was struggling at home trying to get through homework. If homework isn’t required, when will a good portion of learning occur? Granted, much of it in a classroom, but lost will be the self- discovery that goes on when faced with deadlines and that magical moment when after scratching a full head of hair, the child sees the light come on. Just as it is in my household, Nintendo DS, sports, music, and iPods are the preferred choice with free time. Homework provides a very meaningful way for children and their parents to come together. For parents that are actively engaged, you may be wondering what the major concern is. This opinion piece more than likely doesn’t pertain to you. But for the folks that are busy with several children, working to pay taxes while trying to balance the multitude of responsibilities that we all seem to find ourselves with these
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days, we expect more from our schools. We expect the highest of standards so our children will be prepared for whatever life brings them. The only effective way to do so is to expect those that educate our children to hold them to those standards. We can choose to find any and every excuse as to why we shouldn’t. These are our schools. There are no misconceptions about homework. The facts have been presented by Dr. Cutler and I agree with them. Now we want a higher expectation and greater accountability for our school system and for our children. What we are asking for requires not one cent in tax dollars. Please support higher standards in our
schools. If you have similar experiences in our schools, I implore you to please get involved. The time it takes to write just one letter is paid back generously over the years that your child has left in our schools. Feel free to contact me anytime at email@example.com
Jason Guerrette - Litchfield
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