Incoming Jefferson Parish Public School Superintendent Cade Brumley answered many questions during his public interview with the School Board on Monday, but his response to one query in particular may have caught the interest of many parents and students.
Brumley, who was unanimously selected for the job, was asked if there is any way to reduce the amount of homework given to students, who the questioner said can come home with as many as four or five hours of it.
Brumley responded by saying he doesn’t believe in homework and even floated the idea of doing away with it while superintendent of the DeSoto Parish school system in north Louisiana.
Asked Tuesday to expand on his answer, Brumley said he has not discussed the issue in any conversations with School Board members and isn't coming into the job with any agenda of eliminating homework in Jefferson Parish. He said he was simply answering the question as a school administrator and a father.
“Homework has always been something that has taken time away from some of the other pursuits that are important for kids to develop as well-rounded citizens,” he said.
Brumley said homework can be a cause of stress between parents and children, and he doesn’t think schools should create tension within families.
He also noted that not all children have the same level of support at home, with some getting help and guidance from parents or others while some are completely on their own.
Before the month is over, Cade Brumley may by the next superintendent of public schools in Jefferson Parish, the biggest district in the state.
Brumley said a key part of his philosophy as an educator is that children require different levels of assistance and resources to be successful, and that homework is often at odds with that belief because it is done outside of the school environment where teachers can make sure kids get what they need.
“I think homework has the potential to increase the divide in academic achievement between students who come from supportive families versus students who don’t have that same support structure within their own homes,” he said.
Traditionally, the rule of thumb in education has been 10 minutes of homework per grade level. Supporters of homework point to a comprehensive 2006 study by Duke University researchers that found a correlation between work assigned to be done outside of school and student achievement.
Critics, however, say correlation is not causation — that it may be not that more homework makes good students, but rather that good students do more homework.
A Texas teacher who stopped assigning homework in 2016 and instead told her students to play, eat dinner with their families and go to bed early went viral, finding support among parents who feel like their kids get too much homework.
Brumley said none of the research he's come across on the subject has overcome his thought that homework is of limited benefit.
Cade Brumley may have earned a stellar reputation as the superintendent of schools in DeSoto Parish, but he hasn't won over everyone in Jeffer…
He said the conversation about homework came up in DeSoto about four or five years ago when the state-backed Common Core curriculum was put into place and many parents started having problems helping their children with their assignments.
He said some of the schools in the parish that stopped assigning homework heard from unhappy parents who wanted their children to be assigned such work.
The system settled on schools having per-subject limits on the amount of homework that can be assigned and asking teachers to make sure homework was for reinforcing what was learned in the classroom and wasn’t new learning.
Ultimately, Brumley said, he favors schools striking a balance that works best for teachers, parents and students.
“I’m not pursuing it as an agenda, but I can guarantee you this: In a Jefferson Parish home tonight, there will be friction between a child and his or her parents over homework that should not exist,” he said. “I can further guarantee there will be homework assigned where there will be a child who will not have a parent or guardian (to help), and it will not get done.”