Thursday, October 4

In N.J., homework isn't just for kids

The internet is abuzz today with discussion of a Times article about a teacher in Montclair, N.J., who gives weekly homework to the parents of his 9th grade English students -- and the kids' grades can be docked if their parents fail to participate. The goal is to keep parents involved in their kids' schoolwork at precisely the time when parent involvement drops off. The policy has generated a ton of discussion among Times readers, who call it everything from "excellent" to "absurd."

The idea, while interesting, appears to be of limited application. The Montclair students have a lot going for them: they all have computers at home, almost all have parents who are fluent English speakers, and their English classes have an average of about 22 students. Their teacher can afford to focus on getting kids and parents to talk about literature because kids have the basic skills to read books and write about them. I'm also guessing the parents who actually buy into the assignments are the ones who are most involved in their kids' educations anyway. I can't imagine any teacher even attempting this at the vast majority of New York City high schools, where teachers can't even get parents to come out for conferences twice a year.

Parents: If your kid's teacher asked you to read the same books your child is reading, would you do it?

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