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Cabrillo School District Rejects Ban on Homework


Trustees of the Cabrillo Unified School District in the tiny coastal town of Half Moon Bay voted late Thursday before an audience of nearly 200 people to review their homework policies rather than abolish homework.

With television cameras from around the country present, the board voted 3 to 1, with one abstention, to create a task force to review the district's homework policies, investigate how assignments are given and come back in January with preliminary proposals for change.

The abstainer was trustee Garrett Redmond, the flamboyant farmer who forced this Northern California town into the international spotlight two weeks ago when he asked his school district to eliminate homework because, he said, it is inequitable and cuts into family time.

Redmond left the meeting early because it had turned into a circus, he said. "I got tired of hearing that (the suggestion) was an embarrassment," he said. Of the vote, he remarked: "That's what I call government psychobabble for 'they killed it.' Whenever any government body sets something for study, it's headed for the round file."

Supt. Jane Martin opposed banning homework but said district policies setting minimum homework times for students at all grade levels could stand some change. To her, the outcome of Half Moon Bay's two weeks in the limelight was progress.

She said she was particularly impressed by the students who spoke at the meeting. "They all felt that there should be some homework," Martin said. "But they thought it would be appropriate to look at the amount, expectations and coordination."

Noting that it can count for as much as 50% of a grade, Redmond called homework inequitable because he said it favors computer-savvy, upper-income children at the expense of the poor. Homework also clashes with family time, he said.

Some speakers at the meeting called his proposal a "goofy idea" that would sabotage the district's children in college and said it had made Half Moon Bay into a laughingstock. But most who rose from the crowd packed into an elementary school auditorium agreed that something should be changed.

Alicia Dahlen, 11, said her sixth-grade homework was oppressive, often taking her until 8 or 10 p.m. to finish. "I feel overloaded," she said. "I have not had time to do my chores, to feed my dog, to sometimes help make dinner for the family."

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