Los Angeles County schools decides homework is racist, they need to reduce it

Discussion in 'Politics' started by Artful D0dger, Jun 29, 2011.

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    How to deal with the rude K-12 achievement gap in Los Angeles? District officials have a new solution that should be pretty popular all-around.

    Based on the theory that homework is more likely to be completed by kids with a secure home life and involved parents -- aka, the white middle class -- LAUSD is forcing teachers to cap homework at 10 percent of a student's grade, beginning next month.

    "The policy is intended to account for the myriad urban problems facing the district's mostly low-income, minority population," writes the Los Angeles Times today. The LAUSD memo is more cryptic:

    "Varying degrees of access to academic support at home, for whatever reason, should not penalize a student so severely that it prevents the student from passing a class, nor should it inflate the grade. ... While some students do not have the opportunity to do homework while away from school thus failing to return assignments, for others, it is difficult to be sure that it was the student who actually did the work."
    Good to know someone's finally onto those insufferable little brats (future "handicapped narcissists" blubbering to their shrinks about their perfect childhoods) who suck Otter Pop 'front the tube while Mom and Dad fill out their multiplication tables. And, as Gawker notes, "If you dislike this policy you're probably a jerk who doesn't care about poor kids or those who live in fucked up homes. You're also a humongous nerd."

    But we can't think of a better way to discourage kids -- privileged or not -- from doing homework than by telling them they can get a B+ without even glancing at the stack. Having been not-so-much of homework-doers ourselves, we can attest that this policy would have been the cherry atop the whole "handicapped narcissism" thing.

    Students in the Times piece seem to be on the same page as our high-school selves:

    "I do my homework, but I don't do it too often," said Marshall junior Lexus Bailey, whose schedule includes honors classes. "I'll tell myself I'm going to do my homework, then I don't."
    "It's a waste of time and a poor reflection of whether I'm learning the subject," said Marshall senior Manny Hernandez, who is developing his own janitorial business outside of school hours. "And it's so easy to copy other students' homework, it's ridiculous."

    Maybe teachers should just stop assigning shitty homework?

    According to an article in EduGuide, "in order to learn, children must add new knowledge to old knowledge -- kind of like building a bridge." (Gag.) Studies showed that by the time students reached high school, they did 25 percent better on tests with the reinforcement of homework.

    We've contacted some humongous nerds for comment, because we're still not quite convinced an awesome homework policy is worth an even dumber graduating class at LAUSD.

    L.A.'s decision to ease up on homework has ignited a small firestorm among educators across the country, seeing as this particular issue is at the core of America's current K-12 reform movement.

    Of course, it's easy to say less busywork the better, and students are undoubtedly stoked to hear it. Efforts to level the playing field between the coddled middle class and minorities without the same resources (quickly becoming the majority in L.A.) is noble as well.

    On the other hand, we have the young, renegade "Teach for America" mantra -- one that has also rubbed off on the Bill Gates charter-school circle. If schools hold working-class minorities to a lower standard, reformers argue, they'll continue to perform at that level.

    One TFA friend immediately Tweeted to us:

    "Holding low-income black and Mexican kids to a lower standard of learning (when many are already behind) is racist/classist. Also, kids may choose not to do homework, but ALL are capable and can make time to, regardless of situation, if we expect it of them."
    Judy Elliot, chief academic officer for LAUSD, tells the Weekly that naysayers are missing the point. She explains that a task force made up of parents, UTLA (the teachers' union) and ALA (the principals' union) examined the correlation between homework completion and test performance for over a year.

    According to Elliot, those numbers showed that kids who tested "proficient and advanced" were not necessarily the same ones who had good study habits at home, and vice versa. Based on those results, the district decided to implement the 10 percent policy, hoping to prevent what they perceived as "grade deflation and inflation" that came from weighing "study habits and attitude" too heavily in the academic portion of students' grades.

    "Homework is not supposed to be used as a weapon," she says, "It's supposed to be used as practice."

    This, of course, relies on the idealistic hope that kids want to go home and "practice" dorky vocab instead of farting around with their skate buddies outside the local 7-11. Given the opportunity to pull a B+ without doing any homework, we bet our high-school diplomas that they'll go ahead and do just that.

    Elliot goes on to detail the uselessness of some take-home work assigned by L.A. teachers. "Some of the kids do homework and they never get it back," she says. "Or they just get a check."

    She calls the homework ethic "a reflection of whether kids got what the teacher taught" -- so if "you're in a lecture class, and you didn't understand the lecture to begin with," you're not going to bother grappling with it after school. "It could be the issue of instruction, or it could be, 'I have five siblings to take care of, and my mom's at work, and my dad's in prison,'" she says.

    Huh. Is it just us, or might the real problem be that teachers either aren't teaching the material well enough in the first place, aren't assigning worthwhile homework or are just too lazy to grade the stuff? The fact that teachers and principals helped come up with this plan is unavoidably suspicious.

    In 2004, Jim Milgram, a math professor at Stanford, was asked by California politicians to come up with a plan that might help kids catch up to global math standards. Among his findings:

    "Now, the teachers themselves must be educated, or they will continue to hold back the kids in California. We found out that is what is going on: Undereducated teachers hold back the kids."
    Under LAUSD policy, if kids indeed start (or continue) to neglect their homework because they can, their grades won't show it. How great for the floundering LAUSD reputation. But what good does it do for their education? For their self-standards? For their futures?

    "Everywhere I've gone and talked about this, people clap," says Elliot. "We were on CNN."

    Originally posted June 27 at 3:20 p.m.
  2. It's funny how the party that prides themselves on being all intellectual is constantly fighting do dumb everyone down.

  3. Whoopsie... someone missed the point. No homework, teacher has one less thing to do, like check homework.Yea !!!! Win win for everyone.
  4. Lucrum


    homework is racist

    Damn I wish I thought of that 40 years ago.

    Of course first the principle and then my dad would have beaten me to within a inch of my life. Man how times have have changed.
  5. jem


    This will create an even larger underclass which will create more of a need for social workers, cops, jailors etc... which creates more votes for democrats.

    Soon it will be racist to make a kid learn in school.
  6. Homework only makes students hate school more. They're already forced to spend 8 hours (with a total of 1.5 hours between classes) in a classroom. They're going to despise it if they're forced to go home and sit down even longer if they're going to get a good grade.

    Then there's the cheating aspect of it. Some kids just straight up copy the homework. And I'm not talking about the low achieving kids. Think about it. Who would be motivated to copy homework? A kid who doesn't want to do it but who cares about their grade in the class. Duh... all the achievers.

    Hmm... there is an uptrend in the amount of homework in our schools... hmm... there is an uptrend in the amount of cheating in our schools... hmmm.... connect... the... dots.... ummm... I've come to the conclusion that kids should do lots of homework so that they can compete with international kids in future desk jobs that require lots of hours of busywork.
  7. Max E.

    Max E.

    This is a joke right?

    How do you propose these kids get through College, if they have never done any homework up until then?

    Also i would love for you to point me to unionised, public school where students spend 6.5 hours a day in the classroom.

    The reality is students spend less than 5 hours a day in the classroom, with random days off every couple weeks for supposed "teacher planning"

  8. They've already been dumbing down colleges for years. There have been any number of threads posted on here the past 6 months that discuss the lack of academic rigor in many of the major institutions. One poll found that a very limited number of students did any substantial amount of homework/research outside of the classroom.

    Of course, universities are large enough that there will always be a percentage of serious students in real majors. The trend though is towards many more "fluff" majors that will encourage students to STAY in school for four years AND encourage them to rack up those ENORMOUS student debt loads.

    After all, the student loan market is analogous to the housing market circa mid-2000's. Anyone and everyone NEED apply and perpetuate the bubble-nomics of the higher education industry.
  9. Max E.

    Max E.

    Indeed, this is a sad state of affairs. Not enough people passing tests, fuck it lets lower the bar.....

    In many states, the level of proficiency by students is less than 50%, yet the teachers get their pay raises year in and year out, and there is absolutely no accountability. Eventually this whole thing is going to collapse, and it will be humorous watching these useless p[eople like the teachers unions with their hands out, after failing miserably for the last 3 decades.

    There is no question we are going to get surpassed in this century, the only question is how many times over.

  10. I say liberals are racist for deliberately and systematically creating/maintaining an underclass of ignorant, dependent subhumans who are stupid enough to vote for democraps.
    #10     Jun 29, 2011