Trustees vote to set guidelines on homework

The homework load of some Toronto students just got a little lighter.

The Toronto District School Board (TDSB) voted tonight (April 16) to adopt a new policy that will set strict guidelines as to the amount of homework teachers can send home with students.

The Program and School Services Committee recommended the new plan to the board on April 2.

Trustee Josh Matlow was pleased with the decision and looks forward to its implementation.

“This will have a direct impact on the lives of kids and families,” Matlow said. “It will return family time to families.”

The policy states the amount of  homework that can be assigned in certain grades. For example a child in kindergarten will not be given any homework, while a student in grades nine to 12 can be assigned homework, but it must be carefully planned to ensure its completion time doesn’t exceed two hours.

Immediately after the vote, Matlow jumped up and hugged Frank Bruni, the father of a Grade 7 student. Bruni championed the policy from the start and was excited to see his actions produce change.

“It’s an extraordinary feeling,” Bruni said. “It’s important to know this process can work … Parents can bring an issue to the board and get results.”

Bruni still has difficulty fathoming how big the issue got; the policy has evoked responses from as far as Israel. He says the decision will be a model for other school boards to follow.

“What the TDSB has done tonight is set an example for the rest of the world,” Bruni said.

The policy also dictates that students will not be required to do homework on scheduled holidays in the school calendar. Matlow says people will be much more sane in the future because of the decision made for children today.

“This policy will allow kids and their parents to take a break during March break, take a break during Christmas, take a break during significant days that are important to them and their families and their traditions and be with each other rather than thinking about the work they have to complete,” Matlow said.

Several trustees applauded the policy, written by Karen Grose, for its thoroughness. Matlow also acknowledged the policy for being progressive.

“It reminds me of what a school board should be – innovative and creative,” Matlow said.

The new homework policy will be put into action in the fall.