CVHS’ new homework policy presents a Sisyphean feat for students working and caregiving

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Carys Reyes

On the job at Cane’s after school hours.

Time management has been particularly hard for me this year. I work 30-40 hour weeks and then spend the same amount of time on online learning/homework. Any other time I have is spent on chores and caring for my siblings, while my parents work during the day.

I know I’m not alone. The mass unemployment caused by the pandemic has forced students to take on jobs to earn money or to take on caregiving roles. HISD has aided students who are going through a hard time by giving free food to students supplying them with wifi hotspots for online learning. However, Carnegie’s new homework policy is adding more stress to the everyday lives of students who have to take on these added responsibilities.

586 students and parents signed a petition against the school’s new homework policy.

A student supporter of the petition Varshitha Krishnan wrote: “Aside from being an unnecessary source of stress for students, this policy logically doesn’t make sense. Carnegie teachers and admin openly admit to the school’s insane workload, and many students do homework well into the night, certainly past midnight. Even when we had in-person school, assignments were never due the night before. School definitely shouldn’t be made harder during the pandemic, but that’s exactly what this is doing.”

Parents also had negative opinions on the new homework policy: “Give your students a break. They’re working hard enough without the extra pressure that’s being planned to be put on them.”

The previous homework policy gave students 48 hours to understand and complete their assignments. For example, if I had Journalism on Monday for the 3rd period, my homework would be due on Wednesday at 11:59 pm or before the 3rd period if the teacher says so. The new homework policy gives students a little over 24 hours to complete their homework. For example, if I had Journalism on Monday for the 3rd period, my homework would be due on Tuesday at 11:59 pm.

I work anywhere from 8-10 hours per shift and then get home anywhere from 12-3 am. When I get home, I work on homework for at least an hour, sleep, and then repeat.”

We are currently going through a pandemic that is worsening and causes many complications and changes to our everyday lives. By implementing the new policy with less time to do homework, shows how the Carnegie administration is not taking the severity of the pandemic’s effect on people into consideration. The new homework policy gives students less time to do homework, puts more stress on students, and does not give students enough time to fully comprehend what they are learning. This shows that the administration need to listen to students before enacting policies.

 

8 am – 8:30 am Make breakfast for siblings and get ready for school
8:30 am – 10 am 1st period/ 2nd period
10:05 am – 11:35 am 3rd period/ advocacy
11:35 am – 1 pm Make lunch for siblings, do chores, and complete homework assignments
1:05 pm – 2:40 pm 5th period/4th period
2:45 pm – 3:30 pm 7th period/ 6th period
3:30 pm – 3:50 pm Get ready for work
4 pm – 2 am At work
2:15 am – 2:30 am shower
2:30 am – 3:30 am homework
3:30 am – 8 am sleep

Throughout the pandemic, I have been working 30-40 hours every week to save money for college. I wake up at 8 am and get my younger siblings breakfast and situated for online school, and then find a quiet enough place in my house to attend my classes. I make lunch for my siblings during lunchtime, finish my chores, and then tend to my homework. I go to my last two classes and do other homework at the same time. At around 3:30 I get ready for work because I mainly work night shifts. I work anywhere from 8-10 hours per shift and then get home anywhere from 12-3 am. When I get home, I work on homework for at least an hour, sleep, and then repeat.

My parents understand that I go to a challenging school with lots of homework but if we have family plans, I am required to go with my family. Education and doing hours of homework is not their number one priority- family is.

Even though teachers may argue it will make it easier for students to turn in homework on time, it does not. What may result is that some students possibly won’t even do the homework because of how little time is given for assignments. And although teachers believe the old policy aided students to procrastinate on homework, it should not matter. There are students, like myself, who truly need the extra time to do the homework. This will make it impossible for me, as a working student, to turn in anything on time. Not all students have the luxury of having enough free time to do multiple homework assignments within such a short time period.

Teachers complained that students do not use their asynchronous time wisely, that students take advantage of the old homework policy, and wait until the last minute to submit their work.

In response to this, junior Naomi Canny wrote in the petition: “It is unfair to generalize and say that all Carnegie students are ineffectively utilizing their asynchronous time. Some of us are making an active effort to do our work on time and before the deadline. Giving us a whole day less to turn in our assignments punishes all students. Students who slack and goof off should face repercussions, but not at the expense of hard-working students who care about their grades.”

As a concession to students’ concerns, school administrators have encouraged greater flexibility on deadlines from teachers. This is not enough. Students who need extra time on assignments will have to constantly ask for the extra time to do it. This will open a window for other students, who do not necessarily need the time, to do likewise. It creates too many inconsistencies in implementing the new policy.

Perhaps the problem with the new policy is student’s voice were not heard in the decision-making process. In order to have a policy that works for both teachers and students, there should be voices heard from both sides. There can be feedback from students given to advocacy teachers to report back to administrators. Student Council can also take a more active role in representing the student body’s voice in decisions that directly affect the student body.

“CVHS is a very academically challenging school and I do not think that a “good” school should mean more homework. Students are still children and having time to have fun that is not in front of your laptop all day in a Teams meeting, is what students need to have for themselves. Every student is unique with time and when these deadlines are shortened, it makes it even harder for us to have time for ourselves regardless of how many outside-of-school responsibilities we have,” said junior Dieuyen Nguyen.

UPDATE: As of February 5th, not all classes use the new homework policy (mainly elective classes) and still have their homework due dates as if the old homework policy was still in place. However, some teachers do allow for late homework and give grace periods for late homework, but some teachers do not and require students to ask for extra time on homework in advance of the due date for the specific homework being turned in late.