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Dublin Students Struggle with Too Much Homework and Too Little Sleep

September 27, 2015

DUBLIN, CA — We recently received the following letter from a Dublin parent which was sent to the Dublin Unified School District Board of Trustees regarding the homework policy and longer school day. Is this your child’s experience?

To:  Dublin Unified School District Board of Trustees,

I have a child who currently attends Dublin High School and is a sophomore. I myself have a background in Education. I am writing to you because I have been increasingly concerned with the time-consuming amounts of homework that the children at Dublin High School (as well as the middle and elementary schools) receive, and the impact on the ability for students to have a full night’s sleep.

We were all hopeful that the extra “Gael Period” would alleviate the amount of homework, however we have found it has only made the situation worse. In addition to having to stay at school longer each day, teachers are piling on even more homework because classroom periods have been shortened and teachers seem to believe the misconception that the students will get all of this extra homework completed during the Gael Period. We have also found that teachers themselves are not following the District’s current homework policy which calls for less homework.

After reading several articles on the importance of sleep it caused me to ponder, “Why has the Dublin Unified School District continued to push our students to the brink of over-scheduling, over-testing, and the relentless pressure to achieve”? It’s not worth it! What is worth it is well-balanced, happy, contented students that have time for extracurricular activities, family, church, sports and time to just be kids! We don’t need our students to disengage, have stress-related illness like burnout, anxiety, depression, and unfortunately even suicide.

Dublin High School has consistently tried to raise the bar and keep up with surrounding schools. If this is the case, then we need to heed the words of wisdom from other schools that have already implemented changes (as noted in the documentary Race to Nowhere) before the problem becomes worse and we start losing our kids to drugs, alcohol, and even suicide as escapes from the stress that has been created by homework overload and a lack of sleep.

I am asking that you place this item on your next agenda and begin the change now… not next year, not two years later, but NOW while we still have the opportunity to see the positive effects of something as simple as this. Please, I urge you to give these kids back their lives before something drastic happens to them. Let’s reduce the amount of homework, let them sleep an extra hour, and let them be kids again!  I’m certain the results you see will be life changing for every family in the City of Dublin. I’m suggesting that Dublin be the leader in change and let others follow us!

Sincerely,

Dana Ogden, Dublin Parent

14 Comments
  1. Paula permalink
    September 27, 2015 8:44 pm

    I have to agree that the school administration and the Board need to exam the homework policies and work with the teachers and departments on keeping the homework under better control. I also think they need to work together on making sure that the resources are provided for making the Gael Period work to its fullest potential. I have heard from students and staff that the HUB is too noisy to get any proper studying done. I know that the HUB staff is working on having a room available for students to complete any missed tests or exams, and that they are working on having more tutors available for helping he students. I thinks a full report on what is still needed and what is now available should be made public so that students, teachers and parents can all do heir part in making the changes work.

    I was one of the community members who fought against the Gael Period. I thought the concept was well intentioned, but that it was not properly planned. I still have objections to it, however, complaining without solutions will not help anyone. I think that the administration must look hard into opening up additional spaces for quiet studying, additional spaces for group studying. I think the administration needs to be sure that tutors are available for all subjects during all Gael Periods. I have heard that they have books available for all classes in the HUB, but these books need to stay in the HUB. If it is too noisy to work in the HUB, this is of no help to the students.

  2. DHS Student permalink
    September 28, 2015 10:05 pm

    For me, Gael Period is nothing but a waste of all time. There is some work getting done, but extending the school day doesn’t help.

  3. Michael Utsumi permalink
    October 1, 2015 12:14 am

    As a regular contributor to this website, I have been somewhat reluctant to comment on this topic. However, as a parent of a Junior at DHS, I will finally chime in. I can objectively say that she has approximately 3-4 hours of homework/night spread out over her schedule which currently includes three AP courses – this was her choice in order to pursue college possibilities. It also came at a cost as she elected to drop her participation in the Dublin Irish Guard & Band. Given her course load and continued employment at the Oakland Zoo, it would have been close to impossible to maintain everything while seeking a personal balance between work and play. The Gael Period has actually worked positively for us as she constructively uses this time to adequately prepare for her AP classes later in the day. I have also witnessed how students that truly need the help are receiving benefits in the Hub or in the Student Union. But the unfortunate sacrifice that I am seeing is that many students that are on the right track – on the move towards college-eligibility are having to sacrifice other elements of high school life – including athletics, music/drama, club involvement or picking up a part time job. It is just too bad that this is the circumstance in 2015. In a very personal way, our family gave up an activity that we loved. And, I have no doubt that this has occurred to many other families. Unfortunately, I have no immediate answers for the growth issues that are facing our District. But in the short term, I would hope that all stakeholders would invest at least an equal amount of energy in examining the existing school day, for students that need the added assistance, for those that are high achieving and for those that have elected to add endeavors that will enhance their four-year journey at DHS.

  4. Mark Rathjen permalink
    October 13, 2015 4:12 pm

    As the parents of two Dublin High students, we read the recent letter from Dana Ogden (published here on OneDublin.org) with knowing nods. We, too, watch with concern as our children spend 3-4 hours (or more) on homework on schoolnights. On more than one occasion already in this young school year, we’ve had to tell our son that it’s well past midnight and he needs to get some sleep before the next school day. Weekends, too, are often consumed with homework, projects, and studying. And just as some predicted, we have observed more work assigned to make up for the instructional minutes lost due to the shorter periods. It affects all aspects of life, from family time to recreational opportunities to physical health.

    Some people point to this stress on high achieving students and blame it on the number of AP courses those students voluntarily undertake. This argument, however, fails to recognize the cold, hard fact that a student who aspires to attend UC Berkeley (for example) in an engineering major has no real choice but to take multiple AP courses at once. And the related argument that AP classes are college level classes involving college level amounts of work fails to acknowledge that college students don’t attend classes for 7 hours a day, 5 days a week, and that college students generally have far more out of class time and control over their own schedules.

    One of the district’s justifications for the Gael Period was to reduce student stress, and that is a worthy goal. Without reopening the debate over Gael Period, it seems there is an awful lot of anecdotal evidence that stress levels have not abated and may have increased, at least for some segments of the student population. Taking the district at face value over its concern for student stress, the district could and should back that concern up by taking meaningful action with regard to the homework policy and making it applicable to every student and every teacher.

    We echo Ms. Ogden’s call for the Dublin School Board to reexamine the very pressing issue of student stress and look for meaningful changes that will benefit every student at Dublin High.

    Sincerely,

    Mark Rathjen, Dublin Parent

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