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Educator makes point with proposal to abolish homework

Homework is unjust, takes too long and puts an unbearable strain on family life. That's not the grumbling of an eighth-grader, but the battle cry of a school board official.

"It's inherently unfair, and I think we should abolish it," said Garrett Redmond, a Cabrillo Unified School District trustee.

His proposal to do just that comes up Oct. 27 before the five-member school board, which serves 3,500 students in a district stretching along 15 miles of coastline south of San Francisco. And a surprising number of educators say Redmond has a point.

The inequity, Redmond said Thursday, begins as soon as a student leaves school. "We have students who can tap into the Internet and CD-ROMs in their own bedroom and have a vast array of information at their fingertips. But the unfortunate people who live in hovels with the entire family sharing one or two rooms _ how is that kid supposed to do his homework?"

Still, they're graded the same, he said.

Children also don't have the same time to do the work. While one may live five minutes from school, another may spend more than an hour on a school bus. And when they get home, some students have chores.

Then there is the buzz word of the 1990s: family values. Redmond said homework can take hours. "Goodbye to any time to spend with their parents," he said.

District Superintendent Jane Martin cautioned that homework is essential in education. "We want students to be prepared to learn by themselves," she said.

"On the surface it is a ridiculous proposition," the Half Moon Bay Review said in an editorial. "But Redmond isn't that far off base. Homework is inherently unfair. Some students are simply in a better environment to succeed than others, and it is unfair to grade students on their home life."