Monday, November 23, 2009
Homework Has Changed
It’s the week of Thanksgiving and my baby is still in school. Add this to the list of things that are different about school these days. I never went to school on the week of Thanksgiving in New Orleans. I guess the school has to squeeze in as many days of learning as they can. I know the parents are ready for a few days of break time from getting up earlier and doing that complicated first grade homework. First grade homework has really advanced. I know that not every school in the city is working with the same standards so I don’t know if it’s like this all the way around but this homework trips me out. Some of the homework they have now is things we didn’t see until the 6th grade. I wasn’t joking about that either. When I left first grade we were just getting to simple addition and basic reading. These kids have math problems that look like Algebra. They have word problems. They have to write stories. I’m so jealous. I could have been so much smarter a lot earlier in life had we had this kind of work although there would have been serious discussions with my classmates about whether we should go home and never come back.
We had a parent meeting and someone brought up the idea of having some kind of program to help the parents so they could help the kids with their homework. It didn’t seem to get a rousing response but the more I think about it the more I realize that programs like that may be the only way to insure that the kids make the proper progress. I’m looking at some of the Geometry homework she brings home and I am thinking what does the third grade and fourth grade homework look like. I think we need to admit that the New Orleans Public School did not adequately prepare a lot of these parents to assist with this type of homework. Many of these kids are going to know more in terms of school work than their parents will by the end of elementary school. We are sending these babies home with this complicated stuff and expect that the parents are going to reinforce what they have learned all day but in the neighborhood people learn to fear and have anger towards things that they were never taught. Those kids are going to come back to school with their homework wrong because they did it all on their own or they won’t do it at all because their mom won’t care if they do so she doesn’t have to deal with it.
The city used to have a superintendent named Anthony Amato. He was here for a short time before we ran him out of town. It appeared no one liked the man but he did have one really good idea. He tried to implement classes for parents who wanted to improve their knowledge so they could help their kids do better. Parents want their kids to do better but they need the confidence in themselves to help them. I know we couldn’t wait for Mr. Amato to leave but when he did we should have kept this idea and put more money behind it. This is one of those ideas I would like to see the mayor and city council get together and work on for the benefit of the city. We are talking about adult classes so they don’t have to hide behind the fact that they don’t really have anything to do with the school board. They could put this together and then work with the school board to register parents. That’s the kind of thing that would make me feel good about future and get me on board with the next administration. All the candidates running for office have my permission to steal that idea and pretend like they thought it up themselves.