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School district looks at student stress, homework

Original post made on Nov 24, 2010

A months-long look into whether Pleasanton expects too much from its young people began Nov. 17 with a showing of the movie "Race to Nowhere."

Read the full story here Web Link posted Wednesday, November 24, 2010, 7:14 AM

Comments (25)

Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Nov 24, 2010 at 11:42 am

Someone should talk to the counselors and explain this Race to Nowhere concept, especially the HS head counselors, who scare the kids into taking Honors and AP classes so they can get into the UCs, even when kids cannot handle such a heavy load.

Teachers should also be aware of it. Each teacher acts as if their class is the only one and assign ridiculous amounts of homework.

Posted by Resident mom, a resident of Lydiksen Elementary School
on Nov 24, 2010 at 7:43 pm

I could not get tickets, so I have not seen this film yet. I'm sure our town could have benefited from enough showings of this film to meet the demand. Every parent/guardian of a student in our school district should be able to obtain a ticket to a see this film shown in our district. I hope additional showings are coming!

Posted by Get Educated, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Nov 24, 2010 at 8:37 pm

The movie was very well done. It is being shown in Dublin on Dec. 2 but its sold out. The Dec. 7 showing at the Vine in Livermore has 231 tickets left for adults and the same number for students. Web Link

One thing I really took home from the movie is finger pointing and blame is a bit more complicated than looking at one source. That message made a lot of sense and was clear with all the examples they showed. Most importantly, instead of focusing on who's to blame, working with your child to find solutions was most important and effective.

Posted by Maria, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Nov 25, 2010 at 12:52 am

Resident, if anyone is pressuring kids to take Honors and AP classes it is the parents, not counselors. Some kids are pressured by their parents into taking as many as 4 or 5 APs-- even AP classes that quite frankly, they are terrible at, such as English or Calculus.

Posted by Don Juan, a resident of Avila
on Nov 26, 2010 at 1:24 am

Gimme a break!

Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Nov 26, 2010 at 9:04 am


I was present at a parent meeting where counselors were very firm about students taking either the AP or Honors classes. That same speech was given to students. I looked up at the counselors' educational background, and they did not go to a UC, so maybe that is why they are scaring the kids into doing things to get into a UC, they just don't know what it takes to get into a UC? (I went to a UC and know that they are not correct when they tell students that they need this or that to get into a UC)

Posted by Garrick the Great, a resident of Castlewood
on Nov 26, 2010 at 9:12 am

This whole thing about too much homework is a load of c**p. American kids are becoming lazy, they spend way too much time with extra-curricular activities, online time-wasting, partying, and sports (3-4 hours per day of sports practice is OK, but 3-4 hours of homework is considered outrageous). Their loony parents support them in their laziness and misplaced priorities.

This is one of the reasons that the Asian countries are kicking out rears. Their kids spend much more time in school each year, and their societies put much more emphasis on learning and much less emphasis on goofing off and getting high.

The hippie generation is raising a bunch of lazy kids, and their are coaching them to be disrespectful and a bunch of loons. Pray that these kids will finally realized that too many of their parents are loons and will "rebel".

Posted by to Garrick, a resident of another community
on Nov 26, 2010 at 5:02 pm

You forgot to blame the unions. It isn't the parents, it is the teacher's unions fault that Pleasanton schools are dysfunctional and the dropout rates and illiteracy rates are so high. Nothing but crime and drugs and illiteracy. That's why every parent with any self respect uses private schools or home schools in Pleasanton.

Posted by mumof2, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Nov 26, 2010 at 9:29 pm

I am sorry to blame....... but as parents we are ultimately responsible for our children's well being. Be realistic of your child's ability. My Freshman daughter (4.0) is not going to UC. There are too many other Universities that can and will offer a more well rounded education.

Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Nov 27, 2010 at 6:18 am


I agree that parents are ultimately responsible. My point is that it is very ironic that PUSD is pushing the "Race to Nowhere" viewings, and yet their own counselors promote the opposite: my point is that the PUSD staff, especially the HS head counselors need to view the video as well, and understand/apply its contents.

Yes, many universities will be better than the UCs (with the budget cuts especially), but for those who want to go to a UC, my advice is to go talk to the admission staff of the UC of your choice, and ignore your school counselor altogether, which really then makes me wonder why we keep these folks (counselors) on board! I would rather have their salary pay for more tachers for the lower grades so as to keep CSR.

Posted by DKHSK, a resident of Bridle Creek
on Nov 27, 2010 at 7:58 pm

Simply put: I'm frustrated.

Having to spend a significant amount of time during THANKSGIVING BREAK helping my child with social studies AND preparing for a 5 minute speech due next week is extremely frustrating.

My child is a solid average student, yet having homework during a break doesn't quite seem right to me.

It's not that we had any serious plans over the holiday, I worked and my wife and child did their thing over the whole week. But was it REALLY necessary to have homework over the break?

Maybe I'm dating myself, but back when I was in school in the 70's and early 80's we didn't have near the amount of homework that kids do now. In fact, I can't remember getting ANY homework until 7th or 8th grade and certainly not over any break. I remember back then that California schools were among the highest-rated in the US.

I seriously would like to know what teachers think of all this.

Posted by Agree, a resident of Pleasanton Heights
on Nov 28, 2010 at 8:37 am

I agree...we just returned from a Thanksgiving vacation to Europe. The entire time my 14 year old was "stressed" about getting back and doing his homework. We bascially had to tell him to relax and enjoy the experience, that we had his back on the home work. Which we do and which he did. Yes, it's true that kids in India and Asia are much more committed to their studies...but do you really want kids that are like that? Or do you want happy, well rounded kids (normal?) kids? The schools in Europe are doing a much better job as well and they take a ton of vacation, in fact, they cherish their family time off, they just have a better education system. It's the teachers and the Teacher's Union that are the culprits. My two older kids are grown, graduated and working and niether had 4.5 grade averages.

Posted by Not So Sure, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Nov 28, 2010 at 11:24 am

I never really had too much of a problem with the amount of homework given to my kids in high school and my kids took honors and AP. It kept them busy at night instead of goofing off. A bunch of their friends weren't interested in school and were more wrapped up in social time and I think it leads to more difficult times as they become young adults. However....

Here's where I had issues: In the elementary/middle grades the homework is either "make-work" nonsense or "parent-teach-the-child-what-wasn't covered-in-class" work.

The other huge issue I had was the high school math procedure which is just the way the District works and it goes like this: In the last 10 minutes of class, the math teacher introduces a new math concept and has the class follow along on a sample problem from the book...then the kids go home to do the assignment/harder problems
(teach themselves) from the book (much confusion, frustration, tears). And here's the kicker: the kids return to class the next day and go over the homework and the teacher goes up and down each aisle while the answer to each assigned problem is given by the next student in the the row. If the student couldn't figure out the answer the night before, then other kids chime in to show how they did it. In essence, the teacher lets the kids teach. Some kids are naturally talented in math, some have parents who are engineers etc. and the rest of us are relinquished into supporting the army of tutors that we scramble to get at the beginning of every school year. And then the tests are corrected by scantron so the teacher is further removed (2 exceptions to this were 2 different, older/long-time women math teachers (now retired) who graded by hand, returned tests in 3 days and were really it can be done.

the whole routine kept my kids busy and taught them resilience and persistence so that was good. Nevertheless, it's not ideal.

Posted by Teacher, a resident of Birdland
on Nov 28, 2010 at 5:44 pm

This topic has already been discussed on this forum and it turned into a teacher bashing/union bashing/homework bashing thread. Let's not make this thread into the same thing.

Actually, go ahead. Makes for some funny reading about how out of touch some people and some parents are in this community.

Posted by DKHSK, a resident of Bridle Creek
on Nov 28, 2010 at 8:54 pm

If only my child were in high school, try 4th grade.

It would seem that there just isn't enough time during class to really focus on topics of importance. I guess when you consider that schools are actually in session much less when you factor school breaks, furloughs, teacher in-service...etc, it all makes sense.

And "Teacher", I'm not bashing teachers or unions. Although I utterly disagree with public sector unions for local/state/federal fiscal health reasons, teachers have my utmost respect.

Posted by Steve, a resident of Vineyard Avenue
on Nov 29, 2010 at 12:10 pm


I would have to say you are the one out of touch. What would you be doing for a living if not teaching? Probably nothing useful since the old saying "those who can, do....those who can't teach" is completely correct (then and now).

I love teachers who exclaim their years of service when all that really means is that they haven't died or quit over their career. Great job keeping the heart pumping!

Homework is good and needed for learning and discipline. A little stress is good. What we don't need are uninspired teachers who go thru the motions while watching the clock. There are some great teachers but the inability to weed out the dead beats costs the whole profession and our kids.

Don't be fooled.....the union cares nothing about kids...the union wants to protect teachers at all costs....even if it is detrimental to the kids.

Posted by Teacher, a resident of Birdland
on Nov 29, 2010 at 12:29 pm

I'm 27, my heart pumps just fine! How can I be out of touch when I am the one that spends time in the classroom with my 150 students, NOT you. If I wasn't a teacher, I'm not sure what I'd be doing. I've wanted to be a teacher since my junior year of high school when one of my teachers inspired me and I wanted to be the one to inspire my students one day. Steve, you clearly are out to hurt PUSD and the great teachers in it. YOU and people like you are the one that makes teachers uninspired with your hurtful, rude, out of touch comments. Get off the couch and get into a classroom and volunteer your time if you think you could teach so much better than the rest of us.

By the way, for those of you that I know are thinking "why is this teacher on PW instead of teaching...SEE! Just what we are talking about!", I came on PW to look for some current event ideas from the Tri-Valley area and remembered I posted on here over the weekend. What a mistake it was to come back here, so negative and unproductive. Back to work!

Posted by Steve, a resident of Vineyard Avenue
on Nov 29, 2010 at 2:00 pm


"get off my couch"....I wish I were on my couch.....working away just as I was last week when you were off. Use this debate as current events.....see what your students think.....they are on the front lines. I think you will be surprised by their candor.

People are tired of the union mantra. (us against the administration/school boards) Teachers think that everything wrong with the school system is due to administrators/parents/school boards....they never want to look at the ugly image in the mirror.

Again, I'm not saying all teachers are bad (some are inspiring and in it for the right reasons) might be a great teacher, but it sure sounds as if you have the union mentality already and you probably have only been teaching for 5-6 years. I shutter to think what you will be like 10 years from now when you have lost your motivation altogether. Buehler.....Buehler.....Buehler.

Posted by Teacher, a resident of Birdland
on Nov 29, 2010 at 4:45 pm

Our schedule is what it is. Talk about beating an issue to death. I think my students would be really sad to see what people think about their teachers. We have talked numerous times about unions and what is going on with PUSD. They understand tenure and most don't agree with it.

How do I have the union mentality if I'm telling you to knock off bashing teachers? Sounds like 1 person telling another person to stop being rude and criticizing a group of people and making generalizations about a group of people that are hurtful, rude, and mostly untrue. The teachers you are referring to make up about 5% of Pleasanton teachers. I have seen the ugly image and I know exactly who you are talking about because I think there are teachers at my school who need to get out of the business as well! I agree with you on that (whoa look hey we agree on something!) But what I also see are TONS of awesome teachers who have tons of motivation, give their heart and soul to their profession and to their students, yet people like continue to group all of us teachers into one group, say we are unmotivated, give too much homework, have too much time off, etc etc.

I don't even know what line of work you are in nor do I care. I'm sick of my profession being criticized by people that have absolutely no clue what it is really like. I'm also sick of people like you, Steve, who make these huge generalizations and completely discredit people like me who actually do care. You beat down good teachers and make them believe they aren't good and YOU are part of the problem of teachers being unmotivated.

Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Nov 29, 2010 at 7:05 pm

We have many excellent teachers in Pleasanton. My children have had their share of good teachers, but the few that are bad give the rest a bad name.

Teacher: you may be one of the good ones, but some of your peers are not that good and if we did not have a teachers' union, then great teachers could thrive, be recognized, be properly compensated, while the bad ones could actually get fired. If we did not spend so much money on unions (yes, someone has to run the show and they do not do it for free) and there were no collective bargaining, I believe we would have: a better teaching staff, the teachers would get better pay according to performance, students would be happier.

While teachers are good for the most part, their union is not, and I believe that at some point unions must end. Why can't teachers do one significant "collective bargaining" and decide to do away with their union?

Unions are hurting education and other areas as well. Our budget deficit across the nation can be traced back to unions. Yes, read about it: many cities are having to declare bankruptcy because they can no longer afford their pension responsibilities. Many young people are already retired and with a full pension, sometimes in the six figure range - they are often double dipping and getting another public sector job.

Teacher: it is not your profession people have issues with, it is the unions. If doctors were part of a union, I am sure we would all have problems with them - I can't imagine having to deal with a doctor that is there just because of seniority and union nonsense.

Posted by Teacher, a resident of Birdland
on Nov 29, 2010 at 8:10 pm

Thank you for your thoughts Resident. I have issues with my union as well. I just wish people would clarify that in their posts then because many people take out their anger on the teachers, rather than the union, and for many of us, we are completely separate groups.

Posted by Me Too, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Dec 5, 2010 at 8:46 am

"Yes, it's true that kids in India and Asia are much more committed to their studies...but do you really want kids that are like that? Or do you want happy, well rounded kids (normal?) kids?"

Are you honestly saying tat kids in Asia and India are not well rounded or normal?

Posted by Me Too, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Dec 5, 2010 at 8:54 am

My question is, where are the college admittance people in all of these discussions. I did not see the movie, so maybe its in there, but in articles I've read its always about all the things that kids do to get into these top schools but not what the colleges actually look at. I'm not really sure what good one of these "top schools" gets you anyway. I did go to a school that is in the category, but work right along side people from all different types of schools.

We should also do away with weighted grades in AP classes (in some schools honors classes also). Then students would not just be taking some AP classes to increase their GPA. Maybe more would actually take classes they are interested in.

Posted by Ree, a resident of Canyon Creek
on Dec 8, 2010 at 11:22 am

As a student in this area it is most frustrating to be given so much homework, yet so little is marked. When I spend hours on an assignment, I expect a teacher to mark my work. What if my paper is full of errors? I guess I'm still going to make those errors because no one is correcting what I have done wrong. Many teachers do not care about the quality of a student's work, they just want to see that you have completed the assignment. A stamp, or a happy face does little to motivate any student. If I was a Principal my English teacher would be sacked, she moans and grumbles constantly about how hard her job is. She never corrects any papers, and I have to go to a former teacher who helps me, because she doesn't have a clue how to teach. There are big flaws in our system, but as students we are often told our education is our responsibility!

Posted by I'm A Parent Too, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Dec 8, 2010 at 8:27 pm

Ree: You have the made the best comments I have read on this subject.

My 2 kids made the same comments as you did for years. They were good students and, I imagine, so are you. Your papers aren't graded because *someone* is too lazy to do it.

I's part of their job. You are right.

Maybe someday you will spend a year or so in Teach For America and see if you can make a difference. I think the only reason we are seeing a national discontent over our schools/teachers/tenure/unions is because kids from our best universities volunteered for a couple of years in Teach For America and they have cast some light on the inadequacies in our educational system.

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