The superintendent of Marion County schools in Florida has just issued a "no homework" mandate for the district's 31 elementary schools starting this fall, reports WESH 2. Superintendent Heidi Maier cites research that nightly homework assignments haven't been shown to directly impact a child's academic advancement, and wants parents to instead "assist your child in self-selecting their own text that inspires them" and spend 20 minutes a night reading to or with them. "This is so important for many reasons," she told parents over a call.
The homework ban will apply to Marion County's 20,000 elementary school students, but not to middle or high school kids. Maier is an expert on reading acquisition and has run the district since November, reports the Washington Post. One reading acquisition expert chimes in that while "some kinds of homework might raise achievement," it's "uncommon in US schools," where the "quality of homework assigned is so poor" that replacing it "with self-selected reading [is] a more powerful alternative." Homework has been debated for generations, with the Ladies' Home Journal once calling it "barbarous" and some educators saying it causes heart disease in children who would be better served by playing outside. (One school in Massachusetts banned homework last year.)