OPINION: Homework is a hot topic for La Jolla parents


By Sharon Jones

Parent Representative, La Jolla Cluster Association

The Oct. 4 screening of the documentary “The Race to Nowhere: The Dark Side of America’s Achievement Culture” started an important conversation about a controversial topic: homework.

After viewing the film, many parents are asking questions. How much homework is appropriate? Should weekends be sacred? If you have to hire a tutor (or a therapist) to handle homework pressure, is your child getting too much? If he/she is, what do you do?

The La Jolla Cluster Association (LJCA), which brought the film to La Jolla, has set up a blog for post-film discussion a

  1. LJCA is a nonprofit group that represents the five public schools in La Jolla.

The film, which was shown at La Jolla High School to a sold-out crowd, makes a strong case against current homework practices in competitive communities such as ours.
Much of the film’s academic argument against homework comes from the book “The Case Against Homework: How Homework is Hurting Children and What Parents Can Do About It,” by Sara Bennett and Nancy Kalish.

In their book, Bennett and Kalish cite research by Duke University professor Harris Cooper. His review of 180 studies of homework and its effects apparently revealed very little correlation between the amount of homework and achievement in elementary school, and only a moderate correlation in middle school. Even in high school too much homework “may diminish its effectiveness or even become counterproductive,” he wrote in a 2006 review of the research.

Bennett and Kalish also look at international data as reported in “National Differences, Global Similarities: World Culture and the Future of Schooling,” a book by David P. Baker and Gerald K. LeTendre. Apparently students in countries that achieve the highest scores on standardized tests (Japan, Denmark and the Czech Republic) have teachers who assign the least amount of homework, while the students in countries that get the lowest scores (Greece, Thailand, Iran) have teachers who assign the most amount of homework. U.S. students do as much homework as their peers in other countries but score around the international average.

The La Jolla Cluster Association will continue to discuss topics raised by this film. Join us online and share your thoughts, so that we as a community can determine the future.