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Guest Opinion: To sleep, perchance to dream of change

 

The Palo Alto Weekly article (Jan. 9) on the sleep assembly at Gunn High School continued a lively discussion on how we can best help our students have a healthier and happier adolescence. I was struck by the numerous online comments about the need to limit homework and the hopes that the administration would do so soon.

Some of these comments were similar to the recommendations by two sleep experts, Drs. William Dement and Rafael Pelayo, who spoke at the assembly. They discussed the need to increase sleep and not do homework at the expense of sleep. They also shared how a sleep deficit can impact the safety of our students in many ways, such as unsafe driving, increased illness, an increase in impulsivity and irritability, a decrease in academic performance, increased risk of sports injuries and even an increased risk of suicide. Dr. Pelayo emphasized that research findings show students with increased sleep perform better academically and in athletics.

As a child and adolescent psychiatrist, it was concerning that much of the community discussion centered on the need for the Palo Alto Unified School District (PAUSD) to limit homework as a tool for increasing sleep but with little mention of other very important variables. Limiting homework is certainly one step that can help our kids, and I believe the school administration is working towards that end. In fact, Gunn Principal Denise Herrmann said last semester that all teachers will be estimating the amount of homework assigned, and students will be surveyed on homework load. This was already done in November for all math classes at Gunn.

However, there are many causes for sleep abnormalities, and not all of them are school-related. It is helpful as parents to see where we can affect the safety of our children. Parents can be alert to biological, psychological, cultural and environmental contributors to sleep loss and seek information and help if needed in these areas. Contributing conditions such as sleep apnea, asthma, anxiety and mood disorders can be treated by health professionals, and kids should be referred who have symptoms suggesting such underlying causes of sleep loss. Simple steps such as no caffeine after lunch time make a world of difference for many people with insomnia. Psychological issues include teens feeling it is cool to stay up late or that school work or socializing is more important than sleep.

Parents can help their teens solve these problems of adolescence whether it is an attitude change, learning how to organize their time better or setting limits to allow for more sleep. In the past, social mores helped parents in setting these limits. Now, social networking and hand-held electronic devices obliterate what was once a cultural norm of no calling after 9 p.m. on a school night.

Parents can also help when there are environmental stressors that contribute to sleep loss. For example, the reliving of trauma can be disruptive to sleep and can be relieved by getting psychological help for these teens.

More commonly, electronic devices have entered the environmental scene of teens' lives in ways we middle-aged parents can barely anticipate. Lights shining from these devices into the retinas of the user prevent release of melatonin in the brain and delay sleep onset. Also, they are small and portable, which makes them a common part of teens' bedtime routines. This can keep the user's mind turned on and tuned in. Instead, people are better able to fall asleep by lying in bed with a routine of dim lights, and less thought and stimuli. Recommendations are that these devices not be used for one hour prior to a planned bedtime, and never in bed.

At the Gunn assembly students were asked about their use of these devices. They indicated that their usage was even higher than teens studied by Dr. Pelayo in his research. This is not surprising given that PAUSD teens live in the heart of Silicon Valley, the place of invention and promotion of such devices.

Given these findings, it is not surprising that teens were openly texting during the assembly last week. What's critical is not that they were texting during the talk on sleep, but that they don't interrupt each other's sleep by texting after 10 p.m. on weeknights. Again, parents can set limits on texting, teens can re-create social norms and turn off their devices by a certain hour so as not to disturb their or others' precious sleep time, and the industry can consider options such as automatic off times programmed into devices for users.

Schools cannot be wholly responsible for the biologic, cultural and environmental contributors to our children's mental and physical health. However, as Gunn administrators Dr. Herrmann and Tom Jacoubowsky noted, they can help educate our children and our community on ways to be healthy in mind and body. I applaud their work to collaborate with experts in these areas and to bring internationally known sleep experts to our students as they did last week.

Ongoing education and discussion on these topics is critical to change our new culture of electronic devices. Perhaps, the next step is pairing homework policy with sleep standards and continuing a collaboration between schools and parents to see where it takes us.

I recommend a plan to encourage students to not work after a certain time at night so that sleep becomes the top priority. If students utilize a system in which they stop doing homework by 10 p.m. and are given no consequences in making up the work, the school can start to more readily determine who needs more support to maintain healthy boundaries. Sometimes that support is less homework or a lighter course load. Sometimes it is a medical referral. Sometimes it might be a contract with a student and parents to turn off electronic devices and go to bed.

Sleep well Palo Alto. Dream of change. It has been possible. It still is.

Dr. Maria Daehler is a child and adolescent psychiatrist, a parent of PAUSD students and an over-use and admirer of electronic devices (but working at turning them off by 10 p.m.).

Comments

13 people like this
Posted by sense and sensibility
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jan 16, 2015 at 8:17 am

This has always been about the amount of time we're letting our kids spend in front of screens.

Time for parents to take responsibility and set appropriate boundaries for their kids instead of trying to put the blame elsewhere.


12 people like this
Posted by The Rent is Too Damn High
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Jan 16, 2015 at 9:45 am

Where to begin. What is the role of the school here? The role of the school is first, to address its responsibility for teen sleep deprivation and second, and far less important, to share educational information on student health with students and families such as "turn off screens at night" and "stay hydrated" and "no coffee after 3:00pm".

The parent and student comments on homework have to do with the fact that the district is doing part 2 but not part 1. We all know, despite you flat-earthers out there, that our kids are doing too much homework. Our kids go to school, do a 6 hour day, then come home and do a second 6 hour day of homework. That's unconscionable and worst of all it has zero benefit educationally to do that level of work. It's a mania that is affecting this generation, but research tells us that it is not only delivering zero educational benefit before high school and only marginal benefit thereafter, but it is harmful.

Of course you don't need a doctor or scientist to tell you it's harmful, you can use common sense. But I guess if you lack that, check the research.

This author is quite glib in her statement that the homework issue is being addressed because she heard a principal say she was taking a survey. Lady, there have been surveys up the ying yang for years. We all know exactly how much homework is being assigned and completed. There are WASC surveys, strategic plan surveys, focus groups, and committees. There are study sessions. There is evidence galore.

None of that resulted in any change. You sound like a new high school parent, or someone who just doesn't get it. Please don't patronize the parent community by talking down to us and telling us not to worry because the homework problem is solved. It's not solved until it's solved.

Sure, turn off your phone at night. But how about not giving my child an assignment that requires them to use a computer and takes 4 hours after school?

Duh.


5 people like this
Posted by Parent
a resident of JLS Middle School
on Jan 16, 2015 at 10:14 am

Thank you for your concern, Dr. Daehler, and a few excellent points. But I wish I could give "rent is too high" above about a thousand "likes" for their comment.

I disagree that the schools are even close to dealing adequately with the homework issue. Or dealing with the environmental contributors to sleep problems even close to the extent that they could be adequately addressed in the doctor's office alone.

I agree it's important to teach kids how to set priorities on the use of their time, and not always use the devices, but it's hard to see how to do that when they assign so much homework, the kids spend so much of their time doing homework (that often requires the use of electronic devices), and they homework destroys any chance kids have of a normal social life -- as well as teaching them that they can't set boundaries in their lives between school and home -- no wonder they are learning to rely on texting rather than having "real" lives. If I were them, I'd be reaching out any way I could, too. I'm not suggesting parents shouldn't set boundaries on the use of electronic devices, but I'm sure you know very well that people who aren't allowed to set boundaries growing up or in important spheres of their lives (the homework problem represents an unhealthy lack of any reasonable boundaries between school and home) have difficulty setting boundaries in the rest of their lives.

It's hypocritical for the schools to not only fail to set clear boundaries between school and home, but to insist families cannot set them if they want their child to fully participate and succeed in the educational program, and even require use of electronic devices in homework, then blame the problems of sleep on parents failing to set boundaries on electronic devices. If you read our surveys, our kids are spending so much time on homework, they don't have normal social and home lives, no wonder they are learning to rely on electronic devices to communicate. If I were them, I'd be reaching out any way I could, too. Having suffered isolating health issues as an adult, and suffering from the as-yet unaddressed too-much-homework issue EVERY DAY as a parent, I am sympathetic. We should be giving the kids a healthy alternative first, not telling them to put away the only connections most of them realistically can enjoy.

I'm saying that despite the fact that in our own home, we don't give our child a tablet, phone, or computer, and we have complained (without response) about the fact that the excessive schoolwork requires device use that further destroys focus and rest. We don't even allow TVs or other devices in bedrooms so they are places for rest and respite.

In our home, our child's challenges to sleep are not devices, they are:

1) excessive homework, which is not just about the time spent, but the way it directly undermines taking adequate rest from school, focus, and the ability to be present in home life, and

2) allergy and other physical problems resulting from poor environmental health conditions at school

I disagree that our district is even close to dealing with the environmental contributors to sleep problems and mood disorders even close to the extent that they could be adequately addressed in the doctor's office alone. I appreciate that someone in the medical community has even brought up this issue of the environmental contributors to the problem, though.


3 people like this
Posted by Parent
a resident of JLS Middle School
on Jan 16, 2015 at 10:28 am

To that last point about the environment:

According to the EPA, school conditions can be responsible not just for kids expressing symptoms, but also for kids developing diseases like asthma in the first place.

I think our new superintendent and new facilities head will commit to dealing with this issue in a way that wasn't in the past, if the community shows support for placing a priority on environmental health, which is known to affect not only student physical and mental health, but also student performance.


7 people like this
Posted by 15 not 5
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 16, 2015 at 10:56 am

I'm not an expert but I think excessive schoolwork leads to more screen time, and not just for homework, but actually for teenagers to unwind, "relax" and escape from the schoolwork.

The screen is where teens are conveniently engaging in social activity (or for escapism) also because they have few places to go out to, little time, and they have this homework chore every single day.

So, the screen is where homework gets mixed in with with socialization, and escapism. They are 15, not 5 so parental instruction to reduce screen time can only go so far.

Reducing dreaded homework will open up opportunities for other types of engagement. Right now it's a rut, and a bad one.


11 people like this
Posted by Sleep vs. Homework
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 16, 2015 at 11:23 am

My daughter talked with me about the assembly. She said afterward the kids were all talking about the elephant in the room--homework.

Most of her homework is on a screen. She goes to school all day and gets home around 6:30 because she is involved with an after-school activity at her high school. She eats dinner and starts homework. She does not do Facebook. Her only social media vice is Tumblr which she uses AFTER she is done with her work. She turns off all other devices while she is working unless the project requires collaboration (which some do).

Last night her HIGH SCHOOL English homework included creating online vocabulary flash cards for almost 50 words (most of which she already knew because she is a avid reader with an extensive vocabulary), so it was an annoying waste of time. This is not an atypical assignment from this teacher.

She gets long pages of math problems that she is required to do though she often gets the concept long before she completes the homework. This is a solid A student who probably does homework faster than the average student. She finishes around 9:30 at which time she visits Tumblr, reads or watches a TV show to relax for about 45 minutes when her annoying parents shoo her off to bed.

If this very disciplined, high IQ kid has trouble getting enough sleep, I wonder what it is like for kids with learning challenges or regular learners who just take longer to do the same work.




5 people like this
Posted by Parent
a resident of JLS Middle School
on Jan 16, 2015 at 11:49 am

The problem with just telling the schools to try to limit the homework is that, first of all, they have an unrealistic idea of what it means in the lives of the kids. It's not just about minutes, it's about what it takes from kids' rest, ability to focus, ability to count on doing what they plan to do with their own time. We need healthier boundaries.

The default should be that everyone expects school to happen at school, and if the schools don't think they can deliver the program in that time, they should start looking at how they can. If some parents want a non-stop educational program, they should be able to choose it overtly as a choice program like we offer in elementary school and not inflict it on everyone whose needs - for a rigorous education - require a different approach. These are intellectually curious, intelligent kids with drive and ambition for the future, and the learning and growth opportunities outside of school are burgeoning, we should not be telling them what to do every minute of the day.

It's time we set clear boundaries on the school day, and made work that comes home only the exceptional and valued stuff (whether that means making a very intense separate all-day academic program for those who choose it or planned, agreed on special projects or reading for those who want a very different kind of educational approach). If you haven't seen this very productive thread on boundaries and homework Web Link

Setting healthier school-home boundaries is the equivalent of having a sexual harassment policy for college students where both parties have to say yes versus saying the school is going to limit the amount of unwanted touching anyone has to put up with to an hour and a half a day....


7 people like this
Posted by A start
a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Jan 16, 2015 at 12:07 pm

It's a start, but I have to agree with the poster above who noted that the analysis is glib.

This also struck me as glib: "Contributing conditions such as sleep apnea, asthma, anxiety and mood disorders can be treated by health professionals [...]"

Anyone trying to deal with these knows that health professionals can try to help in these areas, but often do not really help much. Common practice is perhaps sufficiently effective to treat asthma, but apnea, anxiety, and mood disorder treatment often involves years of wrong turns and net harm before they are properly addressed (sometimes before they are properly diagnosed!), and sometimes they never are properly addressed.

To include a throw-away line about these serious issues, trying, I suppose, to support a thesis that parents aren't meeting their responsibilities, is glib.

I think another poster hit it with the analysis that so much required school and homework time reduces students' remaining time so much that electronic devices are the most natural recreation. They are convenient, addicting, and can be used to readily fill minutes. They can be socially meaningful and involve cognitive challenges as well. They give students lots of choices and decisions to make, and they need not involve the kind of judging and culling that makes up so much of the adult interaction they get from school.

This contrasts with the kinds of interests and activities that require a rested mind to engage, and need hours and also the expectation of future hours on a regular basis in order for students to establish a non-stressful relationship with the activity. Those hours and expectation of future hours aren't there, because as has been stated clearly, the schools do not allow the students to establish or even know the limits of school on their time.




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Posted by Mom
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Jan 16, 2015 at 1:17 pm

Parent JLS was asking like how the poster "sense and sensibility" gets 1001 likes. So am I.

When the counter of views shows only 748 views at 1:10 pm right now, how could the post get that many "likes"? Can anyone tell me how to do it?

I wonder if this poster manipulated it. If so, s/he just made her/his point so low level.


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Posted by 15 not 5
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 16, 2015 at 1:49 pm

Mom,

I wonder too. A little creepy to see 1002 "likes" for a comment to blame parents.

S&S may have organizational ties. I hardly think it's a parent group, how to find 1002 parents ready to click "like."

It may be a good time for Tabitha to clarify if there is an organized effort behind S&S message.

What does PAUSD officially think about S&S's comment?


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Posted by sense and sensibility
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jan 16, 2015 at 1:57 pm

[Post removed.]


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Posted by parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 16, 2015 at 2:03 pm

Pelayo has had the chance in the past to address learning disabilities and LD parents but he did not take it. He was invited to speak at a parent meeting for that group years ago and never did.


3 people like this
Posted by Paly Parent
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Jan 16, 2015 at 2:08 pm

First off, there are no likes on any of these any more, I suspect that there was a problem and they have been taken down.

As for getting to sleep, my kids find it hard to sleep when they have a test, a presentation, or know that the next day is going to be tricky in some way. Regardless of what time they go to bed, there is an anxiety about the day ahead which makes sleep difficult. Not all students may be like this, but mine obviously are.

Another thing I have been attempting to prevent is the intake of caffeinated drinks to help them stay awake. We have stopped buying these drinks, but they can and do easily buy them themselves and caffeine and chocolate or sugary snacks seem to be used to help late night concentration on homework.

We put our phones on "do not disturb" settings overnight, every night. We also turn off our internet wifi overnight.

We do try to get the kids to sleep, but if they are stressed about schoolwork/homework/tests/presentation, there isn't that much we can do about that.


3 people like this
Posted by Doable
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 16, 2015 at 2:16 pm

Those complaining about the homework load could look at:
The actual time that the student is actively working on homework versus texting, checking instagram, watching youtube.
The balance of classes being taken, ie. AP vs Honors vs regular lane.
Prep time and whether it is being used for academics or free time.

With three Gunn students who balanced their school workload, used their prep time wisely, limited their APs, took advantage of after school programs and traveled on breaks were all able to get in to popular colleges of their choice. One is a resent grad so this not "from the old days when admissions were easier".

Students do need to have limits from their parents and their teachers. Unfortunately many people want to blame others instead of getting down to the hard work of raising children. It takes a village and we all can have a part in the solutions. We are never going to solve all of the issues of adolescents because this is a time of change and growth. We all can take part in helping them make decisions about workload and productivity.


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Posted by 15 not 5
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 16, 2015 at 2:35 pm

In about a year, I suspect the experts are going to figure out that screen time is a complex issue for 15 year olds.

Youtube, Instagram, chatting are social currency. They are here to stay and they are a necessary part of the social creatures that teenagers are. And unfortunately there is a connection between useless homework and what some may consider useless media use.

Take the 50 vocabulary words. Hmm- mind of a teenager. What would I rather do, as I sit in front of the computer, 50 English vocabulary words (plus all the other mindless homework) or chat with my friends. I am talking about a normal teenager. I'd choose to watch that hilarious Youtube video my group is talking about.

I think parents have been ahead of the experts. We have known about screen time for awhile now. And the push for less homework is because we are selfishly wanting our kids to do other things like have a job, and for that you have to have an expectation of ample time. Not the schoolwork anxiety mill. Several examples cited above.

a start

"..the kinds of interests and activities that require a rested mind to engage, and need hours and also the expectation of future hours on a regular basis in order for students to establish a non-stressful relationship with the activity. Those hours and expectation of future hours aren't there, because as has been stated clearly, the schools do not allow the students to establish or even know the limits of school on their time."

This would lead not just to more sleep, but better sleep.


2 people like this
Posted by 15 not 5
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 16, 2015 at 2:43 pm

Sleep vs Homework.

"If this very disciplined, high IQ kid has trouble getting enough sleep, I wonder what it is like for kids with learning challenges or regular learners who just take longer to do the same work."

I agree with you, the kids who manage and are perfectly in synch with all their activities and can "do it all" are doing so at the margin, not with any time left over.

If only more parents who say it's all doable could admit that something gives with the current homework levels.


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Posted by Parent
a resident of JLS Middle School
on Jan 16, 2015 at 3:13 pm

"hose complaining about the homework load could look at:
The actual time that the student is actively working on homework versus texting, checking instagram, watching youtube. "

Zero. No phones, no tablets, no online accounts except for school, and no computer of their own.

I'm really glad things worked out for your family, really I am. Recognize that the program that worked so well for the way your children think and learn is not working well for a lot of families. The only time my child has any socializing is during the summer. And frankly, the only time my child does really interesting, creative, innovative work is also during breaks and summer.


5 people like this
Posted by LifeAsARealParent
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Jan 16, 2015 at 3:17 pm

Dr Daehler writes:"...If students utilize a system in which they stop doing homework by 10 p.m. and are given no consequences in making up the work, "


If it were only that easy. Your kid will get a zero. That is worse than an F.

Please advise after you have walked a mile in our shoes...

(But thanks for the sleep health tips- we are doing all this. most times the problem is just the homework)


4 people like this
Posted by Parent
a resident of JLS Middle School
on Jan 16, 2015 at 3:26 pm

Why should that sentence, where any child except by overt choice is doing homework at that hour of the evening or even close to it, make any sense to people?

By the way, one of those likes for "sensibility" was mine, by accident. Sorry, saw the word boundaries and got confused thinking the poster was defending parents from being blamed yet again.

If there is too much homework, parents get blamed (make homework a priority, etc)

If the kids are too stressed, parents get blamed (for making homework a priority, etc)

If there are allergies, asthma, sleep apnea, parents get blamed (they just need to take them to the doctor, etc)

If there are focus problems, parents get blamed (tell them to use their planners, and other glib already long trieds)

If there are problems getting any help from the administration, parents get blamed (too many emails, complaint too much, or conversely, don't complain or send email)

Blame the victim is often the response of the party with the greater power in a relationship with unhealthy boundaries. Like I said, setting healthier school-home boundaries is the equivalent of having a sexual harassment policy for college students where both parties have to say yes versus saying the school is going to limit the amount of unwanted touching anyone has to put up with to an hour and a half a day.

And on that not, if there is actual unwanted touching? Somehow, the parents and student are to blame -- for never teaching the kids how to set boundaries, and not setting them...


3 people like this
Posted by Really?
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Jan 16, 2015 at 10:03 pm

@Parent - are you really equating sexual harassment policy implications / human impact of such, in the post-secondary setting with the current, and perpetual, controversy of homework research findings in upper-class, high-performing, richly-resourced homes at the K-12 level?

Get a grip and count your blessings.


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Posted by Parent
a resident of JLS Middle School
on Jan 16, 2015 at 10:32 pm

As an apt analogy, Yes, I am.

Sexual harassment and worse are about power first and foremost.

Setting boundaries, in any scope of life, is about exercising personal power. (The schools seem reticent to give up the power to prioritize school work over family time even when school is over. ) One of the best resources anywhere to help teach kids about how to protect themselves is Kidpower, and they do this by teaching generally how to set boundaries and enforce them. We can talk about boundaries in the context of school, and people don't understand as well, because they are so used to not setting any boundaries in that sphere, even to the point of their kids having serious depression. Some people don't care. A lot of us do. But most people can understand the boundaries issue in the context of sexual harassment.

There are a number of characteristics of people who have trouble setting boundaries and one is that they grow up in homes where they were not allowed to set boundaries. it's not necessarily that they ever experience any harassment at home at all, but being put in a position where they never learn how to set boundaries and make them stick, makes them more vulnerable in other spheres, including sexual harassment. So, if you think about it, it's not even just an analogy, though that was why I made that point.

Our Development Assets survey uses the word "boundaries" 40 times.

Our inability to set healthy boundaries between our school and family life has some pretty serious and significant impacts, including to sleep. Not as serious as to a few families in this district who will never take part in a discussion like this, but serious enough.

Having experienced moderately serious sexual harassment in the workplace when I was young, I'd just like to point out to you that exactly what you just did, deny and dismiss, "get a grip" -- these are the kinds of unhelpful things people say that perpetuate harassment.

I will count my blessings when I am able to set healthy boundaries between my home life and school life, and we no longer have nearly a quarter of the students in the 11th grade at the high school experiencing chronic sadness and depression.

Get a grip yourself. Or just don't be evil, as they say at Google.


1 person likes this
Posted by Really?
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Jan 16, 2015 at 10:46 pm

@Parent

I am not denying the impact of sexual harassment nor that of undue and excessive homework - perhaps I wasn't clear, and in that I respectfully apologize. I sought only to highlight the difference between the two- young adults and minors face different challenges.

No child should shoulder burdens of excessive and meaningless homework. As their parent (s) we can be their champion in speaking with teachers and administrators.

Young adults in a post secondary setting suggest a different set of challenges - in that we work as advocates and coaches.

Regardless - we DO need to get a grip and put their interests first.


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Posted by Parent
a resident of JLS Middle School
on Jan 17, 2015 at 6:26 am

Putting the interests of my child and friends first, right now, means setting healthy boundaries between school and home.

We have a relative visiting now, same age, homeschooled, and with so many more enriching life and educational experiences because of it, including academic competitions. My own has placed nationally in serious national academic competition, too, outside school, and wasn't able to participate this year because of homework leaving no time. I don't even see much of the homework as having value, in fact, the only homework I saw that had any value was something brought home and immersed in for its own sake. Interestingly, didnt get an A, but who cares, I could see how much was learned and the passion in it, and the value of what was learned to other endeavor. That's what homework should be. That's what education should be. The national competition, by the way, also from passion - included a lot of hard work, but only got stressful for all because of schoolwork.

And before you say it, homeschooling is not an option. We have a right to, and frankly pay as handsomely as private school for in our taxes, a public education. Which I actually believe would be even better if I could be firm about it happening at school, and whatever happens after is our choice. I am never going to argue against someone else being able to choose a program where they are immersed in being given work 24/7. There is value in that to some people, almoat like academic equivalent of strength training. I wish those who value that would let those of us whose kids are just weighed down by that, and there are many, choose what works better to educate our children as whole people, too.

Let us set boundaries. Those who want to say yes to them being crossed should say yes and more power to them. Those who say NO should be able to say NO and make it stick. Same thing, no matter the sphere. We still deserve an equal quality public education.


2 people like this
Posted by Strange
a resident of Barron Park
on Jan 17, 2015 at 6:51 am

Hey, Parent, all parents I know would never let a sexual harasser into their house. Why do you?


1 person likes this
Posted by parenting 101
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Jan 17, 2015 at 9:03 am

Huh! If for some unfathomable reason, you were forced to accept a harasser into your house, you can be damned sure that I would set the boundaries of what they can and can't do and be watching every minute and to hell with any policy.

That's parenting 101!


3 people like this
Posted by Paly family
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jan 17, 2015 at 10:34 am

We made a rule of bedtime by midnight regardless of the fact that other friends are up very late, pulling all-nighters, what have you. Parents can draw a line in the sand and show our kids that we value them and that there are reasonable limits.

However, I have also learned about the homework policy, and I am very concerned that teachers do not list the suggested amount of time on each assignment, as per the regulations. If they did this, we could know how our kids are doing with the material, and also have some way to track if the overall homework policy timeframe is being respected by the teachers, which in my experience it is not. It is the principal's job to manage the school, and they are completely hands off, and the teachers are not interested in following the homework policy. And the district does not seem interested in managing the principals, and so on, so there is no effective chain of command and accountability.


4 people like this
Posted by The Rent is Too Damn High
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Jan 17, 2015 at 10:51 am

Max McGee seems to have the same amount of interest in ensuring that board policy is followed and that schools are consistent as his predecessor. That's too bad, I hoped for better. We need a real manager. Again, why are we paying all these admins at 25 Churchill anything, let alone their inflated salaries, if they aren't doing anything and everything is managed at the sites?

Also, Max, your "vision statement" is too long, and is also meaningless. Please stop reading your kitchen sink garbage to the city. We are not stupid. We are actually smarter than you for the most part. Please, do not condescend to us. Instead, manage the staff and make them follow policy. For starters.


1 person likes this
Posted by Marc Vincenti and Martha Cabot
a resident of Barron Park
on Jan 17, 2015 at 12:36 pm

Dear Palo Alto Onliners,

We want to praise and thank Dr. Daehler for writing so well, and with such deep caring about these problems.

Gunn students do need to be getting more sleep, and, yes, anxiety is one of the things that makes the kids toss and turn.

We're unhappy with this and are DOING something about it. Join us if you want to go from discussion to ACTION.

We've launched a grassroots initiative, called "Save the 2,008," which advocates changes at Gunn High that would lower kids' anxiety and free up more sleep-time.

Ours is a proposal to shrink classes to a friendlier size, moderate the amounts of homework, foster wise decisions about course loads, quiet the all-day distraction of cellphones, slow the bombardment of grade-reports so our kids have room to ride out the ups and downs of teenage life, and end the demoralizing impact of cheating.

Every single one of our six proposals, if enacted, would lower stress and anxiety, helping kids to get the nighttime rest they need.

You can DO something to help. Our website explains how. In particular, come to the School Board meeting on January 27th and tell Ken, Melissa, Camille, Heidi, and Terry (and the superintendent) what kind of schools you want.

We're at: www.savethe2008.com

Sincerely
Martha Cabot (sophomore) and Marc Vincenti (former Gunn teacher)


1 person likes this
Posted by 15 not 5
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 17, 2015 at 5:51 pm

"quiet the all-day distraction of cellphones"

Why not get double duty on this one and help quiet the phones and screen time at home too.

More writing, and research during the school day would go a long way. It's just better to work with phones quieted in an academic environment. Results would be more efficient use of the school day, less languishing online at home, not as tired from all the screen time, better sleep. Grades could be used to entice students to finish their work during class.

Could even have non-computer homework days.


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Posted by Parent
a resident of JLS Middle School
on Jan 17, 2015 at 7:55 pm

Strange,

"Hey, Parent, all parents I know would never let a sexual harasser into their house. Why do you?"

Exactly. So why do parents put up with the schools using their family time as some kind of slush fund for the school day, as if there are no boundaries on their personal time?

Tell me, what do you think happens when you tell the schools that you're setting a clear boundary, and the school day ends when the school day ends?


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Posted by strange
a resident of Barron Park
on Jan 17, 2015 at 8:36 pm

All parents I know say "NO" to sexual harassers. Why aren't you doing that? They don't let them in their home.

Bedtime's at 9:00 and no arguments. It's called parenting. Duh!


1 person likes this
Posted by 15 not 5
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 17, 2015 at 10:08 pm

"Bedtime's at 9:00 and no arguments."

Really?


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Posted by Parent
a resident of JLS Middle School
on Jan 17, 2015 at 11:24 pm

"All parents I know say "NO" to sexual harassers. Why aren't you doing that? They don't let them in their home. "

And yet, children are victimized -- do you think that's because their parents decide to say yes instead of no?

It turns out most perps are not strangers, they are people who watch for opportunities. They test and cross boundaries. It turns out not to be the most effective thing just to teach kids just not to talk to strangers or to look for weirdos in trench coats to say no to. Teaching kids how to protect themselves involves teaching them how to set healthy boundaries in all spheres of their lives, and it turns out that people who grow up in homes where they are not allowed to set boundaries are least able to do this. The boundary between school and home life is one of the most important in their lives, and yet they and families are never allowed to establish clear and enforceable boundaries.

"Why aren't you doing that? They don't let them in their home. "

Why do you keep coming after me as if I am I not doing that? I am doing that. You're the one who seems to take offense at others trying to set boundaries. Why is that? That's usually the behavior of the kind of person trying to cross the boundaries, the harasser behavior.

I do that in my home life. I do that at work. I am trying to do this with the schools. Why shouldn't they have to respect a healthy boundary between the school day and home life? When school is over, I want it to be over. I have full confidence in our excellent schools to teach what needs to be taught during the school day. I do not think almost anything they have sent home is worth the time lost to it, and it is lost time.

If you want to have their hands all over every minute of your and your child's life, then you should be able to yes, and more power to you. I don't. Why is it that you take such offense at others choosing healthy boundaries? Seriously? What's your MO?

When schools refuse to set any boundaries between school and home life, they are teachings kids that they cannot set boundaries between home and school, or home and work. It is a huge and very unhealthy example they are setting.


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Posted by strange
a resident of Barron Park
on Jan 18, 2015 at 3:01 am

It's in your house. No one is forcing you to let them in.
If you do let them in, you get to set the set the boundaries. If you do let them in, you have to watch over your kids. It's in you home, it's your responsibility.
Why do you say you can't do that? Why fo you blame others when you don't do that?


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Posted by Parent
a resident of JLS Middle School
on Jan 18, 2015 at 8:53 am

Strange,
You still neither get the analogy nor what I am trying to say about the lack of boundaries, and are being strangely aggressive and offensive to me. Please stop.

Nobody is letting any sex offenders in their home on purpose. Not me. Not you. Not anyone. Can you stop trying to steer the conversation to that? It's unproductive and strange, like your name.

This is getting away from the analogy, but your kids may benefit: The majority of offenders are trusted people, not trenchcoat wearing weirdos with labels. They get opportunities with kids precisely because they are usually trusted people. If parents knew who they were, of course they wouldn't invite them into their homes. They might be trusted teachers or coaches or a trusted relative. Do you not let relatives in your home? Because if any of your relatives is inclined toward being that way, your teaching your children that they cannot set personal boundaries on their lives makes them more vulnerable. You cannot exclude all your relatives from your home, that won't keep your kids safe either because they will miss out on the majority of positive family time and connections. They will be more susceptible to people who show them affection with secret motives, not less. You cannot know if any of the relatives is secretly grooming your family. All you can do is teach your kids not to keep secrets, to understand what a boundary is, and to learn how to set and enforce them far short of the worst happening. If you think the "bad guys" all come with labels, and all you have to do is say yes or no when you see the label, you are leaving your kids sadly unprepared.

On the topic of this thread, making your family life always at the mercy of some other force that doesn't allow you to plan, to spend healthy time with friends and loved ones, to have control if the time for your own projects, to get adequate sleep, some other force that makes you constantly choose between having control of your family time and having full benefit of their educational program and the opportunities the transcript results in - that's failing to set a major boundary in life, and teaching your kids not to. People who arent allowed to set boundaries in their lives growing up are least prepared to set them in all spheres, including personal safety with someone trusted.

Schools set a terrible example when they fail to set boundaries, and they are more in the analogous place if those who cross boundaries and cause harm when they blame their victims. They have a lot of power in the situation, because school is mandatory, and a public education a right.

In this analogous situation, I'm not blaming others. I'm doing what I'm supposed to when the boundary is being crossed by someone with a lot of power, and that's not keeping silent, not keeping secrets. Telling, until I find a responsible adult or adults who can help. And I'm trying to set clear, healthier boundaries between school and home life. I don't want any mandatory homework at all. My child legally deserves just as good an education as yours. My child deserves a home life with a chance to spend time with friends and family, not focus first and foremost on school still. If you want the schools in your home, with their hands all over you and your child in your home, that is your choice. I don't, and luckily, it is possible to offer as high-quality, even higher I think, an education, by offering choice in the pedagogical approach. We can even do that simply by allowing more independent study options for now, all the way down to elementary school. We can do that by setting boundaries between school and home so that the school day ends when the school day ends (unless people overtly say yes to the kind of program involving a nonstop or indeterminate school day). Right now, getting that will involve activism, precisely because of how strange people like you are about not wanting to let others set healthy boundaries. You're not helping them or even your own.

The schools development assets survey uses the word "boundaries" 40 times and specifically says parents should help kids set boundaries, yet the schools are the worst offenders in most families' daily lives in making it hard to set them. The school day should have a clear end, after which my lesser amount of time should be my own, without my having to accept an inferior education for it, Capiche? Luckily, that's possible, because it turns out all that homework is hurting kids' autonomy anyway. Among other harms, like teaching them that they can't set boundaries.


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Posted by strange
a resident of Barron Park
on Jan 18, 2015 at 11:29 am

It's your sexual harassment analogy. This fixation you have with it is kind of creepy and I wouldn't have gone there. I presume you did it just to shock and try to win the argument through disassociation.

However, follow your analogy to its logical conclusion. Your analogy is about homework. It happens in your home. It really is strange that you are letting the perpetrators in and not doing anything about it. To deny that is being disingenuous.

Continuing with your analogy, if you know abuse is happening in your home, you need to:
#1. Protect your kids.
Make sure the boundaries are clear with your child. If you know it's happening in your house and know who's doing it, you kick them out. No waiting. Any retaliation is far less than letting the abuse continue. If you don't know who's doing it, you don't leave anyone alone with the kids. If anyone crosses your boundaries, you kick them out. This is how you handle homework as well. You set the boundaries and don't let anyone cross them.

#2. Report the abuse.
Once you've identified abusers, you report them and make sure they can't hurt your child or anyone else.

You want #2 to solve your problem, it's needed but it doesn't. #1 is what you need to do. Set boundaries within your home. Be it for homework, for computers, for bedtime.


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Posted by 15 not 5
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 18, 2015 at 1:20 pm

strange,

Still interested in your parenting expertise for 9:00 PM bedtime for 15 year olds.

The suggestion you keep making that homework is optional is not true. As someone pointed out, unilaterally stopping homework has consequences.

If in fact homework is a medium for teacher-student communication, parents unilaterally protecting kids from homework would impair critical communication with the teacher, but more importantly it could leave the student behind. Getting back from behind is harder than staying on top.

For good reason, used to be that parents who made kids homework compliant were considered "partners" in education. Perhaps you could elaborate about how parents or students have a choice about homework. How many students would be put at risk of falling behind, getting bad grades, all because of a refusal to comply with the teacher's communications.

If I could unilaterally stop homework, could I also decide to not force my student to go to school every day?


6 people like this
Posted by LifeAsARealParent
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Jan 18, 2015 at 5:06 pm

@15 not 5 posits:
"...If in fact homework is a medium for teacher-student communication"


It is not. To delude yourself otherwise is to ignore the sorting function of the schools. Remember, few teachers are here to teach - they don't want feedback.

So when your child reports homework took too long, the teacher AUTOMATICALLY assumes the kid is the problem, and they must be laned-down.

Only rarely does introspection drive the correct response: 'How could I have explained this better?' ( on the part of the teacher)

And hence why our schools are not learning institutions examining better teaching, but rather just sorting the kids towards ever-dimmer futures.

Homework becomes moralized in this context: If Johnny didn't finish his homework, he must either be dumb,(lane him down) or irresponsible(blame parents)

Insert any convenient moral failures here: screen time. TV, wasting time with friends, ... Whatever makes the teacher feel morally superior and avoids accountability for the fact that Johnny didn't learn. (Or actually, teacher didn't teach)


All of this discussion is a simple outcome of failure in accountability:

Board abdicates accountability to Super, who abdicates to site Principals, who abdicates to teachers who take no responsibility.

But little Johnny isn't learning, so someone has to be accountable - everyone else has abdicated, so the only parties left are child and parents.

This is the heart of the broken system.

Little Johnny should kick his teacher in the groin every time he loses sleep to homework. How else to fight a broken system?


1 person likes this
Posted by Parent
a resident of JLS Middle School
on Jan 18, 2015 at 6:35 pm

Strange,
" This fixation you have with it is kind of creepy and I wouldn't have gone there. I presume you did it just to shock and try to win the argument through disassociation. "

So... now you are the one blaming your boorish behavior on someone else. Actually, it's you who keep going there. I made an analogy, and had to explain it once, but then you keep aggressive taking it too far and repeating yourself. It's an analogy to help people understand about boundaries. It is you who are being aggressive and creepy. I have asked you to stop. Especially if you find it creepy, why don't you stop fixating on it, and just stop.

You can't understand it because you are taking the analogy too far. You are deliberately overlooking what's important about the analogy, and then taking it beyond where it makes any sense, then criticizing for something I never said or implied. And then you keep repeating yourself, willfully ignoring what others are telling you.

The applicable aspect of the analogy has to do with boundaries. What's inapplicable is that obviously, an education is both mandatory and a right and opportunity.

We are trying to set boundaries as best we can, without damaging our child's opportunities or rights while we do.

Tell me, why are you so against other parents setting boundaries? No one wants to take away your right to have the school invade your home and be your whole life. A lot of families don't want that, and feel our teachers and students are good enough that the curriculum can be taught during the school day, and those who want to set boundaries on the school day can have as high-quality an education without the homework.

Unfortunately, setting that kind of boundary will probably require a court case, at least judging by the reaction of people like you who just have a knee-jerk antagonism to any suggestion of others doing things differently than you do.


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Posted by strange
a resident of Barron Park
on Jan 18, 2015 at 8:16 pm

You lost control of your analogy as soon as you posted it.

Your analogy is as ill-advised as the person who titled this article. How could someone be so short-sighted as to use a quote where Hamlet contemplates suicide where Gunn high-school students are involved?

[Portion removed.]


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Posted by Parent
a resident of JLS Middle School
on Jan 18, 2015 at 10:22 pm

Strange,
[Portion removed.]

My analogy wasn't just an analogy when it comes to keeping kids safe. There are respected organizations that discuss the relationship between kids learning how to set boundaries in all arenas of life as a way to help protect them from harassment:
Web Link

For those who are interested, the above article, "Sometimes the People Kids Love Have Problems" from Kidpower.org talks about giving children tools for "staying emotionally and physically safe without overwhelming them with Unnecessarily upsetting information. Children can learn to protect themselves from most safety problems ... if they practice these skilss. Setting powerful, respectful, appropriate boundaries with peers and adults they know..."

Here are some more helpful links relevant to this discussion:
Web Link
Web Link
Web Link

Kidpower has a safety first commitment: "I WILL put the safety and well-being of myself and others ahead of anyone’s embarrassment, inconvenience or offense, including my own."

And yours.

It is the height of hypocrisy for the schools to tell parents to set boundaries around bedtime when they refuse to set the more major boundary between school and home life. It's like the City telling parents to make their kids wear helmets but insisting everyone bicycle to school down Alma and El Camino in traffic with no bike lanes.


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Posted by Context
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Jan 19, 2015 at 7:55 am

[Post removed.]


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Posted by context
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 19, 2015 at 9:29 am

[Post removed.]



3 people like this
Posted by Paly Parent
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Jan 19, 2015 at 9:42 am

This reminds me of the time, a few years ago now, when as a family we had booked a trip to San Francisco to see the Lion King live. These were expensive tickets and were booked well in advance. We chose a Sunday performance so as not to interfere with any school events, or so we thought. Once school started we discovered that there was a school choir performance on said Sunday. I was mad and told the choir teacher that we had to have one day of the week to ourselves. He said he had deliberately planned a Sunday so that it wouldn't conflict with other school events. He also said that if the choir member didn't attend the performance it would be shown as part of the grade. I gave my child the decision who decided to do the choir performance rather than the theater. On reflection, I should have taken it further with the principal.

But it is this principle that is wrong. The amount of homework is one aspect. But when we can't depend on having one day in the week for a family outing it becomes too much.


1 person likes this
Posted by DataAnalysis101
a resident of Community Center
on Jan 19, 2015 at 10:24 am

This particular survey has been misread multiple times, in multiple threads, and is likely an outcome of either purposeful misreading, or just a bad survey construction.

Anyhow, @context above quotes a survey on homework incorrectly. The actual survey asks (pg 67):

" On an average school day, how much time do you spend doing homework outside of school?

None
Half hour or less
Between a half hour and an hour
1 hour
2 hours
3 hours or more "

Quote. verbatim. No shizzle.


If you look at a typical 10th grader, the numbers reported are:

None 1 percent
Half hour or less 2 percent
Between a half hour and an hour 3 percent
1 hour 7 percent
2 hours 42 percent
3 hours or more 45 percent

Quote. Verbatim. No Shizzle.

Now this data has been misconstrued to mean many things.

However you choose to interpret this, it is pretty clear that 1 + 2 + 3 = 7 percent are spending less than one hour, as the words are pretty clear that this is "between a half an hour and an hour", and lesser categories.

It is also pretty clear (to me) that 45% are spending 3 hours or more. That means that they are not spending between 2-3 hours, they are actually spending a minimum of 3 hours, or more. From the survey "3 hours or more".



The great confusion comes in the interpretation of the middle of the survey. "1 hour 7% 2 hours 42%"

Either you can read this as 1-2 hours accounting for 7% of the students, and 2-3 hours picks up 42% of the students.

OR... (and I disagree with @context here), you could misconstrue this as: 1 hour '~or less' 7%, and 2 hours '~or less' 42%. This would sum up to 55% of 10th graders having less than 2 hours of homework.

I disagree with the '~or less' interpretation.

Why is this second reading wrong? Well, the largest problem is that it leaves NO distribution between 2 hours and 3 hours. If 55% are 2hours or less, and we already know that 45% are 3 hours or more, then ZERO students spend between 2 hours and 3 hours. Which is absurd.

Furthermore, it is really not that hard to imagine a kid reading this question and guessing how they would interpret the question - the question shows a few buckets of time: 0, 0 - 1/2, 1/2 - 1, 1 - 2, 2 - 3, 3+.

How to really interpret this data:

I think the most obvious reading of the question is to assume our kids are brighter than @context, and they would therefore answer the "1 hour" survey option as 1-2 hours, and they would answer the "2 hours" survey question as 2-3 hours. Of course, they would answer the "3 or more hours" survey question as 3+ hours.

So from a rational perspective, 42% of our 10th graders are spending 2-3 hours on homework, and 45% are spending 3+ hours on homework.

That means that 87% of our 10th graders are spending beyond a 2-hr budget of time on homework.


There have been multiple attempts to misconstrue this data, but you can read it for yourself (pg 67) here: Web Link

[Portion removed.]


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Posted by mortal coil
a resident of Professorville
on Jan 19, 2015 at 10:43 am

Strange, I believe you need to blame the Weekly not the author. The author submits the piece; the Weekly creates the headline. The Weekly either missed or didn't know what came before:

"To die, to sleep. To sleep, perchance to dream".

And what came after:

"Aye, there's the rub, for in that sleep of death, what dreams may come".

Very unfortunate choice of quotes.


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Posted by curmudgeon
a resident of Downtown North
on Jan 19, 2015 at 3:02 pm

How about Sleep Hall at school to make up for sleep lost at home due to homework?


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Posted by curmudgeon
a resident of Downtown North
on Jan 19, 2015 at 3:12 pm

DataAnalysis101:

It's even worse when one accounts for the confusion of those taking the survey. How the takers interpreted the meaning of the homework interval choices affects the outcome at least as much as how a survey reader interprets the results. Taking the survey is a statistically independent event from reading it, so the variances (aka errors) in the two processes directly add up.

Result: Thud.


3 people like this
Posted by 15 not 5
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 19, 2015 at 4:02 pm

LifeasaRealParent,

"Board abdicates accountability to Super, who abdicates to site Principals, who abdicates to teachers who take no responsibility."

This is true.

Say homework is never reigned in, ever. The surveys can say what they want. The formula of "everyone out for themselves" continues.

I think where the schools may be going with homework issue is that the problem is not the homework it's the parents who don't make the kids finish it on time. The parents are failing their kids and they are also depriving them of sleep. When the survey is answered that some kids are taking 3 hours to do homework, and others can do it in 1 hour, that means parents must not be controlling screen time.

The parents who have the kids who can "do it all" keep saying, this works for us! But even they admit, not much time was left over.

Anyway, the resulting stress and anxiety of getting homework just right needs to be addressed. The stress and anxiety (irrespective of whose fault it is) is unhealthy. While the game of ping pong continues about school's fault or parent's fault, there is one way to solve this problem fairly quickly.

Have homework not count in grades, AT ALL. For one year try it. Very clearly define what is classwork, what is homework, and grades comply with classwork only. Didn't cover it in class? Foul.

Give students some rights, some power to make choices that are not all high stakes.

Teachers control the classroom, parents control home, time to let students control homework. But because they are 15, not CEO's or babies, forget about controlling their time. Let them be accountable only for what is done in school, don't grade them for what they do at home, and let them choose how they perform overall.


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Posted by LifeAsARealParent
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Jan 19, 2015 at 5:45 pm

@15 - I agree with most of what you write.

My personal preference is for homework (all of it, including projects and papers which are sometimes counted outside homework) should be 5% - 10% of my kids grade. There should be some skin in the game, but it has to allow for redemption if something goes wrong.

A little homework, a few points. Might be okay.


Far different than today's system where learning is exported to the home en mass; much new material must be self-taught (or tutors or parent-taught), homework and papers/projects are 25 - 50% of the grade and punitive measures are used to enforce obedience. (Late=Zero)

Classroom time is devolving into a place for presenting, pressuring, and performance sorting. It's becoming a place to get tested , and to get your next homework assignment.

I wish we could call ' foul !' when assignments aren't covered in class. Just last semester a teacher assigned an English paper without covering the literary elements needed as part of the assignment. Even when he was called to task on failing to teach this, his response was: oh well, I guess you'll just have to figure it out. No accountability. He didn't get a zero, but he is happy to hand them out!

[Portion removed.]


1 person likes this
Posted by DataAnalysis101
a resident of Community Center
on Jan 19, 2015 at 5:53 pm

@ Life -

I would fall over in shock if the Principal of Paly sent an email to Students and Parents stating:" Effective tomorrow, we are going to teach before we assign. If you receive homework that was not covered in class, please email me immediately, and I will champion your case. I will talk to the teacher, and get this fixed immediately. Please do NOT waste any more time on poorly formed homework. Get some sleep. I've got your back."


Because I agree with you. They don't have the students back. The schools are complicit in the dysfunction, and their success depends upon student self-teaching and excess student labor and stress.

I can see this from the homework survey. 45% of 10th graders are spending 3 hours or more on homework. This is just bad. And I don't believe that someone is finishing this in 30 minutes either - I would guess that the 30-minute kid is just skipping the work and throwing in the towel.


1 person likes this
Posted by 15 not 5
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 19, 2015 at 8:34 pm

Homework could be SOME new material (like a peek at an article to be discussed in class the next day - but not a full chapter to be covered by the next day, since they'll never cover the whole chapter in class).

It's the Tests and quizzes that should be based only on what was covered in class. This discipline would help rationalize what all really needs to be learned. We would not even need redemption if you could trust what material would be on the test. Though redemption and teens go really well, and they probably learn more with it.

With no distinctions between homework and classwork, students are being asked to learn a bunch of stuff at home that they will never need except to "perform." The PAUSD story of being "over" prepared for college is not funny anymore. Usually what follows that line is "I wish I had had more time to make friends."
Or sleep.


2 people like this
Posted by The Rent is Too Damn High
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Jan 20, 2015 at 12:18 am

@data analysis

Let's keep this simple. 45% of 10th graders are doing 3+ hours. They are supposed to be doing no more than 100 minutes, so they are doing almost double the limit. They aren't in AP classes, largely. They are often in honors classes, which are shamefully not included in the limits and that could in theory account for at least some of the difference.

Why are honors and AP classes not covered by the policy? Simple: cowardice by admins and poor teaching.

Poor teachers believe that they have to assign a huge homework load because that's what it means to have a "rigorous" class. They are also afraid of their students, because the students are by and large much smarter than they are. One thing for certain, the majority of these kids in the AP lanes are not destined to be high school teachers. At age 17 they are already a ton smarter than their teachers. [Portion removed.]

Cowardly admins are afraid of the "site-based control" shibboleth. They will do anything to avoid it. [Portion removed.]

Finally, there is a superstitious belief by admins that despite the research maybe the excessive homework could be driving these high scores and grades. What if it is? Who wants to be the principal or super who screwed up the secret sauce? [Portion removed.]

These factors have combined to create a homework mania that is unique to our generation. It is a false belief system in which our children are being sacrificed and no one really has the incentive to stop it. [Portion removed.] Complaining is not political action.

Take action. We elected one board member, now we need 2 more who care about this issue. [Portion removed.] Voila, we can fix the problem. That's what democracy is about. That's what's on the agenda next and it's not really too early to start planning for the 2016 election.

Who's in?


10 people like this
Posted by 15 not 5
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 20, 2015 at 9:39 am

The Rent,

I disagree with the way you characterize teachers and how smart 17 year olds are.

17 year olds are not that smart, they can be pretty dumb sometimes. And we have awesome teachers.

MOST teachers do not practice homework invasion. It's the cumulative effect of all assignments that is getting students. And the effects of a 1 bad apple teacher, which can make you hate school. Hate everything.

The frustration is obviously making everyone impatient. We have all seen the need for progress, reform, and it is annoying to instead be asked to put out babies to bed at 9:00 PM instead.

The massive lack of respect has gone both ways now, and it's time to give students the power over homework. A homework grading policy will be more useful than a prescription of hours to be worked each day after school.


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Posted by village fool
a resident of another community
on Jan 21, 2015 at 12:43 am

@Context, DataAnalysis101, stange, Parent and 'The Rent is Too Damn High',

A sample of your removed portions/comments along many other censored comments can be found on a page I dedicated in my blog to the ongoing censoring.

I post comments Before & after being censored.
link – Web Link


2 people like this
Posted by Parent
a resident of JLS Middle School
on Jan 23, 2015 at 1:57 pm

I just attended the parent tour at Gunn, and while I am very excited by this amazing resource we have in our community, I was dismayed that there seems not to be a place for our family and many of the kids we know. The administration is stuck in the old rut of thinking that homework means rigor, and more homework means better. The Assistant Principal even said, kids taking more challenging courses will naturally have more homework.

I have been talking to parents of gifted homeschoolers in recent weeks, and I am struck by the two big reasons they homeschool: time, and the ability to give their kids a challenge. Most of the kids are able to be done with their work, to a high level of mastery, by noon, sometimes earlier, so they have time for all kinds of other things afterwards. Why can't we do this for our kids? Why can't we take advantage of giving our amazing smart, motivated kids that kind of time AND the resources of Gunn AND a life after school?

I realize there are families who will always want that classic demanding homeworked-up schedule. But the only alternative shouldn't just be a less-intellectually challenging course (sometimes with just as much homework).

Some kids really can't handle having their focus taken up by constant demands from sunup to sundown. It doesn't mean they don't want intellectual challenge. Forcing every child into this homework hazing sorting mechanism is utterly destructive of the goals the school claims to espouse, valuing the "love of learning beyond traditional metrics" -- if that is so, why work so hard to beat that out of kids like mine? We don't need the schools to teach them to love learning, we just need them not to offer opportunities and not screw up what's already in them.

My kid spends zero time texting because we don't provide smart phones. I don't even use one myself. There are no electronic devices in his room, save the arduino asked for as a gift but sits gathering dust for lack of free time from all the homework. We don't need anyone telling us about the value of sleep, we already know -- we need them to HEAR us about the value of OUR TIME.


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Posted by Parent
a resident of JLS Middle School
on Jan 23, 2015 at 1:59 pm

Sorry, also teaching proofreading... ;-)

I of course meant:

" We don't need the schools to teach them to love learning, we just need them to offer opportunities and not screw up what's already in them."


Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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