French President François Hollande has attracted considerable international attention in his new tax policies including a 75% tax rate for super wealthy citizens. Now, Hollande is moving to eradicate another inequity between wealthy and non-wealthy families: homework. Hollande believes that homework exacerbates the unfairness since wealthier parents have greater ability to work with their children at night than do average working parents.
Hollande stressed that “[a]n education program is, by definition, a societal program. Work should be done at school, rather than at home” to alleviate any unfairness.
There are good reasons to question the utility of homework and the loss of free time for our children. I happen to believe strongly in homework but I share the concern over the loss of time for our kids to simply relax and be kids. However, the suggestion that homework is yet another socio-economic unfairness is wrong in my view. Plenty of working class parents spend time with their kids on homework. Indeed, there is a well-based view of many immigrant and working-class families pushing their children harder to excel in schools. Affluent families often do not reflect the same sense of urgency and commitment. It is also, in my view, bizarre that France would seek to “even the playing field” by shrinking it. Homework allows kids to work under the supervision of their parents who have the greatest levels of influence. It is not easy. With four kids, Leslie and I find it increasingly tough to get through everyone’s assignments. However, it keeps us informed of their progress and allows us to address gaps in their classroom learning. With large public school classes, such gaps are common as teachers are spread thin in class.
To Hollande’s credit, he is also calling for more public teachers and resources — as opposed to our country which continues to diminishment our commitment to public education.