I have a new (or renewed) pet peeve.  I know…I hear all of you sighing a collective sigh of relief that I have something new to rant about. You’re welcome!

How many of you have day-jobs? By that I mean how many of you are not self employed, students or stay-at-home parents but instead have a place of business you are expected to be every day at fairly specific times?  Now, stay with me here…

How many of you who fit the above description of having a day job AND are NOT in management have homework expected to be completed every night?  I’m not excluding management to be bratty. Having been in management and also self employed, the nature of your job description automatically means you DO have homework.  You signed up for it when you chose your job/career and you (hopefully) are compensated for the huge interruption in your and your family’s life.  Are you following?

Here’s my issue in a nut-shell:

At 6:55 a.m., a big yellow school bus takes my sixth-grader children away. At approximately 7:30, the school day begins.  They don’t get 10 or 15 minute breaks ala retail or office jobs. L&I and OSHA stipulate that you with the day job does. Hey, if you choose not to take your breaks OR you choose to work for a company that encourages you to skip them, that’s on you.  They do have four minutes to get from one class to another and try to use the bathroom then.  The school gym is on the other side of the school from all of the sixth grader classes. If, after changing out of your gym clothes and gathering your books at your main locker you find yourself late for class, you are given MANDATORY lunch-time detention (working lunch?) on the stage in the cafeteria where all the other students who weren’t late for classes or are lucky enough to have gym after lunch get to watch you not get to go out to recess or eat with your friends.  Really, those on lunch-time detention get to provide the rest of the timely kids with something to watch while they eat with their friends.  During lunch-time detention, you are not allowed to do homework. You are allowed to eat and read while others stare at and tease you.

At 2:05, the kids are released on their own recognizance to get back on the big yellow bus (or have parents pick them up) and head off towards home to start their (on average) two hours of homework.  Don’t even try and throw in after-school activities.  The only way to manage those is with lots of tears, late-night homework fests and/or lower grade expectations.

Here in the Pacific Northwest, we have AMAZING summers with longer than you’d expect periods of daylight.  It’s really one of the ten best things about living here.  On the converse, we have very short periods of daylight in the winter and much of those periods are filled with rain, fog or general gloom.  Going outside when there is sunlight is not just a luxury; it’s an absolute necessity to keep Seasonal Affective Disorder and possibly scurvy or other Vitamin D deficiency issues at bay.  Winter Solstice on December 21st will gift us with a sunrise at 7:56 a.m. (yes, over an hour after the bus takes our kids away) and sunset at 4:18 p.m. When the bus doesn’t get them home until around 2:40, tack on the two hours of homework and it’s been long dark before they have a chance to go out and play.  If they were unlucky enough to have to wait for access to their gym locker making them late for the following class, then their punishment is being give ZERO access to the outdoors while the sun is up.

Is it just me or does that sound like cruel and unusual punishment?

Why is the two hours of homework necessary on top of the seven plus hour school day?  An hour? I could possibly let that slide and still consider it a reasonable accommodation of their ‘job’ as students, but two (some days more)?  I don’t consider that reasonable.  We are so busy teaching ‘to the test’, having assemblies about fundraisers or national fitness programs and other distractions from learning that we don’t have time to teach our kids.  Sending them home with two hours of homework and a suggestion of websites they can visit to explain the complex math that there was no time to be taught in class is unacceptable.  We are letting our kids down and teaching them nothing of ‘real life’ or time management.  I consider it gross negligence that we can’t make time during daylight hours to play.  We aren’t teaching work/life balance and without that, how do we expect our kids to maintain hope as they grow older that life is worth living?  If one only lives to work, it’s very easy to understand how so many grown-ups see life as bleak, dismal or hopeless.  It was the main topic of conversation  my brother and I had in the year before he killed himself.  No. I’m not being overly dramatic.  We are setting our kids up to fail under the current state and federal teaching and testing requirements, and I am going to start rebelling.  Our kids deserve better. They deserve outside interests and friends. They deserve a life that they WANT to live, not one they feel conditioned to accept.  Don’t you?

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