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
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
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