After Donna Cushlanis’s son kept bursting into tears midway through his second-grade math problems, which one night took over an hour, she told him not to do all of his homework.
“How many times do you have to add seven plus two?” Ms. Cushlanis, 46, said. “I have no problem with doing homework, but that put us both over the edge. I got to the point that this is enough.”
Ms. Cushlanis, a secretary for the Galloway school district, complained to her boss, Annette C. Giaquinto, the superintendent. It turned out that the district, which serves 3,500 kindergarten through eighth-grade students, was already re-evaluating its homework practices. The school board will vote this summer on a proposal to limit weeknight homework to 10 minutes for each year of school — 20 minutes for second graders, and so forth — and ban assignments on weekends, holidays and school vacations.
Galloway, a mostly middle-class community northwest of Atlantic City, is part of a wave of districts across the nation trying to remake homework amid concerns that high-stakes testing and competition for college have fueled a nightly grind that is stressing out children and depriving them of play and rest, yet doing little to raise achievement, particularly in elementary grades.
Such efforts have drawn criticism from some teachers and some parents who counter that students must study more, not less, if they are to succeed. Even so, the anti-homework movement has been reignited in recent months by the documentary “Race to Nowhere,”about burned-out students caught in a pressure-cooker educational system.
“There is simply no proof that most homework as we know it improves school performance,” said Vicki Abeles, the filmmaker and a mother of three from California. “And by expecting kids to work a ‘second shift’ in what should be their downtime, the presence of schoolwork at home is negatively affecting the health of our young people and the quality of family time.”