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September 3rd, 2010
06:57 AM ET

How Do We Fix Our Schools? Parents and Homework...

It’s a hot topic among today’s parents. When parents get together you often hear them say…”When I was a kid, my parents didn’t have to help me with my homework.” Or you hear, “Wow, kids these days have so much more homework and it sure is a lot more complicated then I remember.” It definitely is a fact that children are coming home with more homework and with curriculum changes it does seem to be harder than many remember.

Today watch as CNN Education Contributor Steve Perry makes what we call a house call. Dr. Perry, who is currently a high school principal, will be helping families with an education makeover in their homes. He will be helping two families figure out how to improve the homework habits of their children and address some other very common challenges families face all over the country.

We want to hear your thoughts on parents and homework. Email us your comments and we will read some of your comments on CNN Newsroom at 10am.

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  1. Dee in new Paris OHIO

    You can give kids more and more homework, and parents can ride herd on the kids to be sure the homework is done, but if all that homework is geared to teaching to the tests, instead of teaching KNOWLEDGE, it is a total waste of time, money and opportunity.

    In the long run if a kid can do well on some test, but cannot do well in the real world, we have failed. And we can see that every day. When you see a COLLEGE student (as I did) who presumably finished high school, who cannot make change without the help of a computerized cash register, that is a failure!

    When you see a high school student (as I did) in a "good" high school, who cannot calculate the final selling price on a pair of jeans that are 50% off and then an ADDITIONAL 30% off, you have failure!

    When you see people on some TV show, like the "Jay Walking" segment of the Tonight show, who do not know basic information about our own country, and the people say they are in college, or in some job that you know required a college degree, it should be scaring the crap out of you!

    When you see a person running for Vice President of the United States, (and that person is a COLLEGE GRADUATE) who appears to have trouble with simple questions from an interviewer, we are in deep trouble.

    September 3, 2010 at 8:26 am |
  2. Joshua Cooper

    I feel that, as a Junior in college, that the curriculum in schools today is too different from what it needs to be. Since we must acknowledge that the percentage of high school students that will graduate from college is not that high we must train students in more practical things instead of cramming so much theory for example, Mathematics, Science, History, and English. Foreign Language classes will always be an outstanding exception in that it will help students in no matter what they do for a living, and may even assist in everyday activities. I also feel that while school, and academics, are important, parents must instruct their children in proper living habits that help support a neat and organized lifestyle because that makes everyone happier and more efficient. I feel that mathematics is important, I've had Calculus 3 in fact, but not everyone is going to ever apply the concepts of Trigonometry. My father never even had Algebra in high school, which I had my Freshman year, and knowing that standards are so high for students today doesn't allow for the growth of other needed skills that are beyond the textbook that schools don't have because they are trying to cram these 'essential' ideas down their students within 4 years.

    September 3, 2010 at 8:31 am |
  3. BJ

    As in other aras of American life, too many families relegate responsibility to others: for their health as well as their children's education. Parental involvement in the education of children is vital: just when teens pass out of the compliance stage into testing the waters is when they need the most encouragement, guidelines, structure and boundaries. I have 12 children...my teenagers still have homework time around the dining room table, where I review, supervise, assist, tutor and help my 'students' learn to clarify questions and find answers. The best thing I believe I can do for them is TEACH THEM HOW TO LEARN. Study and research skills, combined with communication skills (both written and oral), are what will best prepare them for success in their chosen fields.

    September 3, 2010 at 8:33 am |
  4. maxine moore

    My husband recently self-published a book, NETOPIA, in which he specifically addresses the problems in American public schools today. As the title implies, the instant gratifications and virtual "utopias" provided by the Internet have a lot to do with an alarming epidemic of attention-deficit conditions, illiteracy, and anti-social behavior. The book concludes with some very practical advice for parents and teachers as to how to stem the tide.
    If you wish, I can forward the book in PDF form to you. Please advise.

    Maxine Moore,Ph.D.

    September 3, 2010 at 8:45 am |
  5. Salim Mwechant

    My son is also a typical Teenager who is lazy in doing homework, the solution is if the homework is not turned in the next day or if the grade is bad, then he has to stay after school and finish it or even re-do the assignment, also every 2 weeks in out county is half day, they should have to stay the full day..that will get the messege into their heads when they miss going home early and staying after school,
    thanks, Salim merchant.

    September 3, 2010 at 9:54 am |
  6. Quinn Clark

    Teachers and schools are incented to crank out children with minimal proficiency in reading, science, and math, and with a textbook view of history. Instead of being told *what* to think, children would be far better served by learning *how* to think, how to critically evaluate an idea, how to distinguish verifiable truths from opinion and rhetoric, how to evaluate all the slogans, all the axioms, all the buzzwords and emotional appeals that pass for facts among the masses, and decide for themselves whether each is worthy of belief.

    September 3, 2010 at 9:57 am |
  7. Christine Powell

    Honestly, year round schooling makes sense, we only had summer vacation so that kids could help out on the farms, which is rare now. I live in a rural area, and yes, some of the kids help, but summer has turned into VACATION instead of a time to contribute to your family income and survival.

    I also think the curriculum should include more history, my kids are entering high school and have no idea who Helen Keller is, or when the World Wars were. They know there was a holocaust, but not why, or what caused Germany to be in such a state as to allow Hitler to rule. Of the conflicts today they know nothing and don't seem to be discussing any 'current' world issues at all.

    They have no basic reading writing arithmetic training, and require calculators and spell checks to get through a thought. Their handwriting is atrocious, apparently they no longer take the time to force children to write legibly.

    Homework is a divided issue for me. 2 hours of practice math questions makes me wonder what they do in the 8 hours they are in school. Homework to me should be research projects with the skills of time and project management, skills that are severely lacking in our schools and many adults.

    Overall, I am thoroughly disappointed in the way teachers manage classrooms today. So many kids that have little activity at home are labeled as ADHD and drugged to zombies, while kids that are quiet and shy are falling behind and not being supported in extra ways they need.

    To make my point, last year my son was preparing for High School, and I was concerned that he kept insisting he had no homework, so I contacted his teacher, who states, and I quote, 'doesn't give homework because the kids just won't do it!'. How is this supportive of parents who are trying to prepare their children for the real world?

    Christine

    September 3, 2010 at 9:59 am |
  8. Oscar

    the problem with schools is that the school board doesn't seem to understand that every person learns at a different pace. I was never an A student, and no matter how hard I tried to learn I was never going to be an A student. And the problem is that in classes kids of all types of intellect are mixed. Sure there are "honor student" classes, but that's not enough. By the time kids are in middle school you can tell who are those that make As and Bs and Cs, etc... Kids should be separated at least by the time they reach high school, according to their grades, because then each teacher will know at what pace they should teach. If kids of different intellects are mixed, teachers will teach at whatever pace they feel is right and leave those that make poor grades behind.

    September 3, 2010 at 10:07 am |
  9. Ertis North

    We should empower parents. Close all the schools, fire all the teachers, buy every student a computer (every thing in education is on the web) and make parents responsible for their child's education. Think of the tax money we would save on infrastructure, salaries, and supplies! Then parents and students will only have themselves to blame for their lack of progress.

    Teachers would still be available (at a rate much like doctors and lawyers) as paid consultants and tutors.

    Think of the tax dollars we would all save.

    September 3, 2010 at 10:12 am |
  10. Leslie

    In the first segment, I noticed the son of the single mother didn't have a bed frame for his bed. He had a mattress on the floor, it appears. This leads me to understand that there is a whole 'nother level working against this young man.
    Hopefully he will be able to escape his environment and succeed. I hope that for all kids.

    In the second segment, children act out most of the time because they cannot manage their environment well. Sometimes parent's can't either and especially if the parents are at work most of the time and not interacting with the children–of course you don't know them.
    The solution is to either have a parent stay home and raise the children or double up their efforts and pay more attention to the kids. The latter suggestion is very tiresome but household management skills are important to parents like class room management skills are important to teachers. Kids mimic their environment.

    September 3, 2010 at 10:39 am |
  11. Leslie

    A school is a part of a municipal corporation. When those businesses/schools in the corporation are lack luster, steps are taken to improve business or it goes out of business. It should be the same with school but it isn't. It is a place to win contracts to do this or that, fund local or not so local businesses by buying things that may or not be used in the school and to pay teacher's union dues. Little thought is given to the end user–the student and the parents who expect a good return on their tax dollar. It is not that children don't want to learn, it is that they mimic their ENVIRONMENT. That is the psychological makeup of a child. If more people who are involved with children in school were REQUIRED to minor in child psychology, we would not be having this conversation. Most teachers and administrators do not have a BASIC understanding of child psychology AND they aren't required to have it. They and the parents should invest time in a child psychology class and pay attention to the children's behavior by studying the children.
    Teachers spend time with kids and do understand their personality but may not be able to get the child to follow instruction, listen and thus learn. That’s where child psychology classes can become helpful.

    September 3, 2010 at 10:42 am |
  12. Leslie

    Women aren't having children like they used to. Most people don't want to spend time with the details of raising a family. It is expensive and the world is not child friendly or family friendly for that matter. Raising a family is something you have to want to do and most people don’t actually want to do it.
    Working class and poor have kids to give hope for a better future. People who can afford better, send their kids to private schools. Those who cannot, send their kids to public school. So of those who have kids only a percentage have to use the public school system- the poor and working class.

    Unfortunately, I have found that many of these parents did not like school themselves and pass that attitude along to their children. Public schools are set up to attract kids. If the adults in charge of the school usurp the point of school, make disparaging comments, are not committed professionals, then the school is more likely to be lack luster because the adults involved are lack luster. Lack luster is what is found in some public schools.
    The other problem is the amount of administrative work teachers have to complete. It’s not just lesson plans anymore. Administrative work cuts into instruction time and can aid in frustration to some ill-equipped teachers. Those teachers should have administrative aids to help with paperwork. Set aside some money for teachers who are struggling to have a grad student or an undergrad teaching student in the class to help the teacher with the admin work. What is wrong with doing that? Now that is a contract work ratifying!

    (I'm not going to start on school staffs participating in team building exercises so that they can work together more efficiently, as many staffs don't get along well–jealousies, egos and such. KIDS MIMIC THIS BEHAVIOR!)

    September 3, 2010 at 10:48 am |
  13. Amelia Lawrence

    As a retired elementary teacher with a reputation of sternness but fairness in the classroom, I was always an advocate of study skills, My emphasis was not on grades but how to study and when to study. I found out if a student had good study skills, the grades would reflect that process.
    This was not always a popular idea with my colleagues but I maintained my position and my parents and students loved me for it!
    I also had parent-teacher meetings where the child and the parents/guardian as well as the child had to be present because my philosophy is teaching is a "team effort". " A house divided cannot stand"
    I believe the schools should teach parents how to enforce study skills and provide classes to them within each school to assist them with this help.

    September 3, 2010 at 10:51 am |
  14. Margaret Oliver

    I do agree we should have school all year around because we pay millions of dollars for summer camps that some times are not really fullfilling and in that way we could use that money to continue educating our children.

    September 3, 2010 at 11:08 am |
  15. Dale

    I live in Arizona and received a schedule of the Deer Valley School District. In it they have 22 (count them) early release days, all on Friday of course, where the state pays the district for the full day because the release doesn't come until after 10 am. We are so into entertaining these students rather than teaching that it is no wonder that we are falling behind in education. We are the laughling stock in Japan and even Russia.

    September 3, 2010 at 11:27 am |
  16. Cynthia Begay

    Education is a lifelong endeavor. Schools are just stepping stones. Parents, schools, communities and government have pieces to contribute to a person's intelligence. The problem is society is sidetracked with rewards and religion by given breaks in days off as holidays, weekends and Sundays. Life is 24/7/365 so should personal development, growth, and acceptance then we wouldn't have prejudice, injustive, war, and indifferences.

    September 3, 2010 at 11:35 am |
  17. Trudy

    You just described what i am facing with my son. I am a single mom with a 15 yr old sophmore. He did terrible last year and the year before. At first I thought it was dealing with being adopted & questions he had. Nothing is working. I am so tired & I'm losing stregnth for this. I live upstate NY work in the city have an hour & half commute, stessful job and then this. Please help and give us some advise. There are so many of us.

    September 3, 2010 at 3:18 pm |
  18. ekiM

    Dale in the European educational system there are differences that I believe are good and bad, they do tend to be more stringent and formal while we tend to be informal and question authority. However we tend to have absolutely no emphasis on language (they learn 3 different) learning and also science. And I believe this has led us to a decline in global leadership. We would rather go have fun then learn Japanese, right? I do have to say there are exception for anything said here from both sides; for example in Utah many of the Mormon raised children sometime tend to learn at least two languages prior to going on their 2 year mission abroad. I at time I do feel the same way you do in that I can't help feeling that the school are becoming over glorified daycares!

    September 3, 2010 at 3:18 pm |
  19. Sharon

    TJ

    Thank you for making education a focus. Dr. Perry this morning presented parents with exactly what they need to help their children succeed in school. I loved when he asked, "You are 12. What else could you possibly have to do?"

    Rather than blame schools for every failure (granted some schools have problems), Dr. Perry demonstrated the importance of taking responsibility. As parents, we have misunderstood the concept of choice for our children.

    I plan to purchase his "man Up" today!

    Sharon

    September 4, 2010 at 8:44 am |
  20. Joel Grebin

    I found Dr. Perry's report skewed to a two parent middle class family and to students in an apparent magnet or charter school. Although his advice about family structure is sound, I haven't seen that type advice very useful in an average or inner city schools where poverty and other socio-economic problems exist. Hunger, single parent families, joblessness, substance abuse is front and foremost in those schools. It seems to me that communities are segregating along intellectual guidelines rather than racial guidelines.

    September 4, 2010 at 4:57 pm |
  21. Joycelyn Thomas

    I feel that it is a must for a parent/parents to spend at least one half hour with their child/children a day talking about school and helping them with homework. If they can't, they must seek help from school, church, community centers or private organizations. They must stress the importance of education. You would be surprise how many students can't attend tutoring because a parent won't sign the permission slip or respond by phone. Parents must keep their children involved with positive activity even if they are at work, there are many programs and ways to keep their child out of trouble. Call the school, visit and seek help, show that your are concerned, even when it concerns finding scholorship money for your seniors. Stay on top of the counselors, call and be persisting. Your child/children should come first, help them to become responsible and independent!

    September 4, 2010 at 11:36 pm |
  22. omanyes

    I believe Cynthia said it best. I would like to add that a program on Education on PBS highlighted a new school program called K.I.D.D. that I was mesmerized by in that it was started by two teachers that were sitting down at lunch complaining about the status of Education in America when they realized they could change it. They have made a tremendous difference by utilizing simple program rules. The Children are so deeply involved in their own schooling that 100% of them raised their hands when asked if they were going on to college. It is worthy of looking up how these two teachers have managed to be so successful. One last comment. It's my opinion that watching T.J. deliver the news so well has changed my opinion of 24 hour news. He delivers the News with such a steady and pleasant manner that I am able to get more involved in the News.

    September 5, 2010 at 8:02 am |
  23. Pamela Nolin

    I know when I was in school, I had lots of homework. Of course we actually were taught all subjects. In the schools now, math and reading is the main focus. So of course there is less homework, and of course things are harder. As much extra math that the kids do, they are starting algebra in 5th grade (when I was in school, you were in 9th to start it). I know that my children, who are in elementary school, were struggling to understand basic grammar and sentence structure because it is not taught in out school system until middle school. I had to do the extra work with them at home. I asked the teachers about this, and they agreed that the subjects that are needed in life are not being taught in schools, but they are stuck with the curiculum the school system an state give them.
    I feel that if we go back to teaching all the core subjects starting in kindergarten or first grade (english, reading, math, social studies, science and history), we will have more well-rounded children who are more ready to face the world.

    September 6, 2010 at 12:40 am |