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Article of Interest - Homework

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Students Lament Loss of Study Halls, Added Homework Load
Massachusetts kids want time to do their assignments in school and not have to lug their books home.
Peter Schworm, Boston Globe, December 16, 2005
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Their backs were sore from lugging home textbooks every school night, their brains weary from long evenings of essays and exponents. So when Norton, Mass., Middle School officials eliminated two study halls each week, three seventh-grade girls decided they had had enough.

Kerryn Camara, Lynsey Kearns and Audra Schlehuber gathered more than 150 signatures on a petition to restore the study halls, which were scaled back to fulfill state requirements on classroom time. They pleaded their case -- so far unsuccessfully -- to the School Committee, saying homework-harried students badly need the study time to finish assignments before their eyelids grew too heavy.

"I know two classes a week doesn't seem like a lot, but a lot of kids are staying up until midnight on their homework," Kearns said. "We don't have enough time to get it all done."

Complaints about homework are a time-honored tradition, but today's protests may be more than idle grumbling. With teachers and schools under increasing pressure to cover more topics and raise standardized test scores, even young students at many suburban schools are saddled with a heavy load of nightly assignments, teachers and parents say.

Parents have greeted the trend with a resounding chorus of complaints, saying the hours spent on homework are detracting from normal family life. Students are sacrificing sleep to finish work sheets and projects -- and robbing families of what little relaxation time together they have, they say.

"The standards have been raised, and it can't all be covered in the school day," said Diana Potter, a Norton parent and member of the middle school council. "But it's hard on kids who are already overscheduled. They have two minutes between classes, barely have time to eat lunch, then they leave school with a 30-pound backpack. There's no downtime."

Schlehuber said, "It's a lot of pressure on a 12- or 13-year-old."

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