Students’ Call for a “Holiday Homework Ban” Leads to Change
Twelve years after the desired change was first called for.
Yesterday, San Marino High School Principal Jason Kurtenbach directed his teachers to refrain from assigning homework over the holidays.
“With the holiday season now upon us,” he said, “it’s more important than ever to give the kids a real break, and to that end, you may not assign any homework, projects, readings, studying for tests, or any other work for students over the break.”
No SMHS principal had ever gone that far.
To date, the school’s principals had either stayed utterly silent on the topic or they had only encouraged, rather than required, the teachers to refrain from assigning homework over the holidays.
The Directive’s Backstory
The call for a “holiday homework ban” was first made at SMHS in 2008 by a student enrolled in one of my summer school US Government classes.
This call was made minutes after I had told the students, in the days leading up to the 4th of July break, that the homework I had just assigned would be due the Monday after the 4th of July.
“If teachers are not required to do any school-related work over a national holiday,” said the student, “then it’s unfair for teachers to require students to do any school-related work over a national holiday.”
The following year, three of my AP Gov students picked up this ball and ran with it— trying to turn the previous year’s call for a holiday homework ban into California State law.
To this end, they first turned to State Senator Carol Liu who, for various reasons, decided not to sponsor the students’ “bill.”
Then they turned to State Assemblyman Mike Eng, asking him to support their “bill.”
Eng also said he would not do it. Furthermore, he doubted any other California lawmaker would do it, though he did add, “If you’re going to have any success with this at all, it will be via the California state initiative process.”
So down that path the students went . . . within a month taking the first two steps needed for an initiative to become a law (see below).
Then, as they sought to take the third step, they learned that to qualify for the ballot in California, an initiative petition must be signed by a specified number of registered voters. This, the students properly concluded, would prove an insurmountable hurdle.
Then they turned to the school’s principal. “If we can’t get the teachers in the state to do what we want, maybe we can get the SMHS teachers to do what we want,” they figured.
Twelve years later, Principal Kurtenbach’s directive, which I fully support, especially during a pandemic.
With that said, I’m wondering — where do you stand on the issue? Also on the related issue of required summer reading for a class that’s not to start until the fall?
- 20 Reasons You Shouldn’t Assign Homework Over the Holidays
- Please, Don’t Assign Homework Over the Holidays
- Why You Should Assign Homework Over the Holidays
- Teachers See Pros and Cons of Homework over Break
- A Case Against Assigned Summer Reading
- Ditch the Summer Reading Requirement
- Should Summer Reading Be Mandatory?
- It’s Time to End Mandated Summer Assignments
- Rethinking Summer Reading Cover to Cover