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Never Mind the Students; Homework Divides Parents

Last spring, when Public School 11, a prekindergarten through fifth-grade school in Manhattan’s Chelsea neighborhood, banned mandatory traditional homework assignments for children up to fourth grade, you might have expected universal acclaim. Rather than filling out worksheets, students were encouraged to read nightly, and a website offered tips for parents looking for engaging after-school activities.

Instead, war broke out among the parents. Those who wanted to keep homework accused the anti-worksheet group of trying to force through a policy supported by a select few. Some privately called the plan “economically and racially insensitive,” favoring families with time and money to provide their own enrichment. There was a series of contentious PTA meetings and jockeying to get on the school’s leadership team, a board that some schools have had trouble getting parents to join. At least three families left the school.