No One Misses the Homework

 

In Louis Menand's commentary on Francois Hollande's recent announcement that he'd abolish all homework for elementary and middle-grade students in France ("Today's Assignment," December 17th), Menand rightly suggests that American attitudes toward homework have rarely centered on issues of equity. But there is a small but growing American movement to abolish homework on such grounds--and it's not led only by affluent parents, as Menand glibly suggests. On a recent trip to Gaithersburg, MD, I visited a Title I school where 82% of kids qualify for free or subsidized lunch, and where the principal has eliminated homework completely and replaced it with pleasure reading. The shift has encouraged her school to become a community of readers and her students to spend after-school hours playing, being outdoors and connecting with family—goals that every family, affluent or poor, can support. Meanwhile, there's been no detrimental effect whatsoever on student test scores, and a culture of family engagement has in fact thrived—not suffered. As Menand points out, no one misses the homework.