Reaction positive to no-homework deal Calgary couple signed with school

CALGARY — To assign or not to assign, that is the question.

CALGARY — To assign or not to assign, that is the question.

Since news broke of one Calgary couple negotiating a no-homework deal with their kids’ school board, the very relevance of homework itself has come under the microscope.

The Calgary Catholic School District, which oversees the school two of Tom and Shelli Milley’s children attend, fielded a few calls Thursday from parents — all of them congratulatory on its willingness to formalize the pact.

“I think that it’s really prompted a public dialogue on the issue,” said spokeswoman Tania Younker.

The CCSD has a committee looking into homework, with an enhanced regulation to be drafted next year.

Calgary Board of Education spokesman Ted Flitton said parents seem split on too much homework versus not enough.

“I don’t know a school board that isn’t scrutinizing it right now and has been for the last several years,” he said.

CBE policy on homework does not mandate formal assignments for Grades 1 to 3 and states homework should not exceed 20 minutes for Grades 4 to 6.

“Our homework regulation underscores that there are multiple ways to learn outside the classroom,” said Flitton, citing sports, arts and community involvement.

A study released last year by University of Toronto researchers Linda Cameron and Lee Bartel found 75 per cent of parents felt their kids have “somewhat” to “much more” homework than they did as children.

The paper contends excessive homework has little practical benefit for younger kids, instead causing stress and burnout.

The recent decision reflects the fact a one-size-fits-all policy fails to take into account individual student needs, said Alberta Education spokeswoman Kathy Telfer.

“It’s a parent’s right to make those decisions and ask ‘Is this too much? Is it enough?’ ” said Telfer.

“In this case, the children are studying at home, they are working on those areas where they need improvement.”

The Milley children are in primary school at St. Brigid elementary-junior high school. Their mother began researching the pros and cons of homework two years ago.

She said there was little to support a link between home assignments and grades, and formed a committee at St. Brigid to examine the issue.

An opt-out clause in the contract has its roots in frustration with what Tom Milley says are assignments given for the sake of assigning them.

“One size fits all (is) just not the way it works. People learn differently,” he said.

Under their new “differentiated homework plan,” their children Spencer, 11, and Brittany, 10, are graded solely on classroom work.

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