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Massachusetts school saying ‘no’ to homework for upcoming year

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HOLYOKE, Mass. — Holyoke public schools are about to enter into the second year of state receivership, WSHM reports.

Back in 2015, the board of education declared Holyoke a “chronically under-performing” district.

Since then, the state-appointed receiver has worked hard to make changes, but the most recent proposal that’s raising some eyebrows actually comes from an elementary principal.

The idea: a year of no homework.

“Some people think it’s a crazy idea,” said Jackie Glasheen, principal of Kelly Elementary School in Holyoke.

Glasheen noted that that’s the response she heard most often when she first proposed the idea of no homework.

“I’m a mom. We all are saying as we clean up the supper dishes ‘Did you do your homework? Okay, take out your homework, I’ll help you with it, let’s go!’ So I don’t know if always the responsibility was on the student as much as we’d like to think it was, but you can look at the data both ways,” Glasheen explained.

Kelly Elementary School is kindergarten through grade eight. This year, Kelly, along with several other schools in Holyoke, will be going to a longer school day: 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Glasheen says no homework was a no-brainer.

“People watching this interview will say ‘Geez, Holyoke’s in receivership. They’re some of the lowest performing kids in the state. Kelly School may have some of the lowest performing numbers, they need to do more work.’ Well, we are! We are going two hours longer in our school day. We are providing specific instructional intervention to close those gaps,” Glasheen noted.

Third-grade teacher and mom Marisa Ventrice said that she was hesitant at first.

“Yup! Definitely! My principal mentioned it and I think she expected me to say yes and I wasn’t right away because it’s such a huge part of our routine or at least, it has been for so long and I do like the responsibility it teaches kids of bringing homework back to school. So I’ve had to think about it for a while, but the pros definitely outweigh the cons,” said Ventrice.

Now, Ventrice is completely on board, as is the city’s receiver.

“We really want our kids to go home at 4:00 tired. We want their brain to be tired. We want them to enjoy their families, to go to soccer and football practice, and we want them to go to bed and that’s it,” Glasheen noted.

This no-homework year will be considered a pilot year and will be evaluated next summer according to standardized tests and other measures.