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Teens say pressure leads to cheating, drug use, depression

Original post made on Dec 31, 2010

A recent panel to address the causes of teen stress came up with a simple answer to who's responsible for pushing kids to overwork themselves.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Friday, December 31, 2010, 12:00 AM

Comments (24)

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Posted by current college student
a resident of Stoneridge
on Dec 31, 2010 at 12:31 am

The amount of homework and unnecessary assignments that were assigned in high school. The amount of homework that is assigned in middle school and high school is ridiculous. Although, there are the outside factors such as Facebook, Twitter, etc. teens need the release to talk to friends. However, now many parents are stressing that anything less than A's is not good enough adding pressure to the student. I think PUSD should reconsider how much homework is assigned. I do understand that it is beyond the district's hands, what the teacher does in the classroom or what assignments they give out, but maybe make this aware to the teachers? High school is supposed to prepare students for college right? Well, for the most part tests have been a huge factor in grading, so should teachers structure their classes a little like this?


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Posted by downtown shopper
a resident of Downtown
on Dec 31, 2010 at 9:28 am

Too much homework???? Oh please! Take a look at the loud and obnoxious gang outside Tully's every day and tell me that those kids have too much homework. They have too much time on their hands! The entire downtown is swarmed by pre-teens, high schoolers, every age group when school lets out. They mob the otherwise enjoyable area outside Tully's, they skateboard on the benches and steps, they buy one ice cream among the entire group and then leave their trash for someone else (their Mommies?) to pick up.
If that is a sign of too much homework then I vote for twice the amount. Keep increasing it until the kids learn to behave in public and pick up after themselves. Skateboarding, shouting and trashing public areas are not your god-given rights.


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Posted by Parent and resident
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Dec 31, 2010 at 11:32 am

Thank you Jane Golden for being the voice of reason! We look forward to seeing changes in the homework policy in 2010-11.

Jane: I hope the changes in the homework policy include revised guidelines for when a child is absent due to illness. What I have seen is that if a child is absent, the amount of make up work is more than what it would have been had the student been in class. Illness is a valid reason for an absence, and the student should not be penalized for it.

In College, you are responsible for missing assignments and tests if you were absent, but there is no extra work added to that. Teachers are actually reasonable. I always tell my kids that even graduate school was easy compared to what I see these days in high school.


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Posted by downtown shopper
a resident of Downtown
on Dec 31, 2010 at 11:56 am

""Our kids need eight to nine hours of sleep," Golden told the group, adding she'd considered writing that into the revised policy."
Agreed. However, many of the reasons the kids do not get sleep are the fault of the parents. Are your kids on Facebook at night? Do they call/text/otherwise communicate for entertainment purposes? Why?
We raised our three with a few simple and always enforced rules. 1. No TV during the week, ever, no matter what it was.
2. Computers are in a common area and are subject to key logger review at any time for any reason. Kids on porn sites or anything else not allowed meant loss of computer priviledges for a minimum of 7 days. No exceptions.
3. Cell phones turned off and left on kitchen counter from arrival at home until all homework completed. Left there again from enforced bedtime til morning. No exceptions.
4. No texting or calling during school hours unless for a verifiable emergency. Phone records checked, violation resulted in loss of phone for 30 days.
All three went to college, two to grad school, all have been productive members of society for years. What is so difficult about being the parent? Just do it and stop expecting the rest of society to clean up your mess.


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Posted by I agree!
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Dec 31, 2010 at 8:54 pm

I completely agree with Downtown Shopper. I'm betting that many of the parents who filled out the homework survey do not monitor the computer/phone use of their children. Allowing them to take a laptop into their room is giving them permission to get on Facebook when they should be using their time wisely.

I'm a teacher and while I agree that students should not have hours of homework a night, we cannot completely blame the teachers. The district needs to mandate the number of AP classes a student is allowed to take. It also needs to give teachers permission to assign less homework and agree to stand by the teachers if test scores drop (i.e. home values go down, which = parent complaints). Parents need to establish a 1 -2 hour environment each night where their child can successfully complete their work (obviously not including primary grades). Teachers need to assign meaningful homework that is standards based. And students need to apply themselves in the classroom so that they will not have to complete assignments at home.

By the way, I've spoken to many of my students who walk in with energy drinks and Starbucks. Many have said that their parents buy them the energy drinks (or give them money to go to the store) and every single one told me their parents bought them Starbucks. That says a lot.


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Posted by I'm with You
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 1, 2011 at 12:53 am

I've raised 3 kids - all with excellent grades & went on to highly selective colleges. All I can say is that it is not easy - nothing worthwhile ever comes easily... for the parent or the child.

"Downtown Shopper" has it right about the family rules for kids.

"I Agree" is right about having teachers assign meaningful homework and having students apply themselves. But Starbucks... Hey wait until your kid gets to college...Starbucks is nothin' - it becomes "5 hour energy" if you're lucky - a lot of kids use other stuff... My doctor told me his son uses the 5 hr. energy stuff too and he told me of his concern/hope that his kid won't go on to use anything stronger . Better for mom and dad to meet a low grade with a soft cushion at home than to have the kids using adderall.

I saw all 3 of my kids work their butts off and try to juggle soooooo much work along with coaches' demands (which should definitely be considered secondary!!!) They couldn't make it come together all the time and I ended up calling in sick for them some mornings so they could finish their homework...after seeing them work all week on academics and sports/school activities to almost exhaustion. What I have learned is that this is only preparation for the work that comes at them if they attend a selective university.

All I can say is that life is tough. Life is not fair. Be prepared to work hard...but always do your work with an HONEST effort.

Do your BEST and keep it HONEST. That's all I can tell my kids. Life does get tough. Life has been a challenge through out history...Get real - as a family.


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Posted by Cholo
a resident of Livermore
on Jan 1, 2011 at 9:01 am

Teens are curious and rebellious. Drugs are readily available. Even free sometimes. Why not give it a try?


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Posted by So you agree!
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 1, 2011 at 10:38 am

"They couldn't make it come together all the time and I ended up calling in sick for them some mornings so they could finish their homework"

So you agree that there is TOO MUCH homework! Yes, you saw your kids work hard, but even then that effort was not enough: you as the parent had to "help" by helping them lie (yes, that is what they and you did by calling in sick when they were only finishing work).

Regardless of your "work hard" argument, which is good advice, you are agreeing that in PUSD there is simply TOO MUCH HOMEWORK.

When a parent like yourself, with kids that have excellent grades and who sound near perfect, has to call the kids in sick so they can finish their homework, that means the homework is too much and I am glad the policy is being revised.


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Posted by Really?
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 1, 2011 at 6:51 pm

So you agree- I read the post to say that because of sports/coach obligations, the students couldn't get everything done and so they stayed home to finish their work. The person did not say they stayed home from sports. Homework is a lot when you have other commitmentS after school that take priority. I guess its all in what you see is most important. And sometimes, in life you just need a break, like she said. Sounds like the point she made was that good parenting is crucial, teaching kids how to balance what they like to do with what they have to do. Sounds like life, so glad the schools are preparing kids for that!



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Posted by So you agree!
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 1, 2011 at 10:51 pm

"the point she made was that good parenting is crucial, teaching kids how to balance what they like to do with what they have to do. Sounds like life, so glad the schools are preparing kids for that!"

Good parenting? I do not consider teaching a child how to lie good parenting. This parent agreed that because of the amount of homework given (too much), other activities like sports could not be accomodated unless the parent and child cheated by calling in sick when they were just finishing work.

What is that teaching? That you can call in sick to work once you are an adult so that your boss will not find out that some other commitments (perhaps family or an adult sport) interfered with the job getting done and therefore the person missed an important staff meeting (by lying about the reasons) in order to finish some work at home and pretend he/she can handle the work load and all of his/her commitments when in truth the person is struggling to finish?

Sorry, but I fail to see good parenting here. I see denial from this parent about the amount of homework (too much) given.

It is perhaps this denial that continues to reinforce teachers' beliefs (and that of people like downtown shopper) that some kids can manage all the homework on top of normal activities.

Kids in PUSD simply get too much homework, and if they want to get it done, then they either must not be involved in extracurricular activities (which imo are very necessary) or cheat (lie and say they are sick and stay home to finish the homework, which is too much).

I am glad there are plenty of people who agree that there is too much homework, and that the policy will be revised.


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Posted by two cents
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 2, 2011 at 12:08 am

I can't believe you can justify calling a kid in sick from school when they're not sick. They're over-scheduled. And academics are a lot more important than sports.


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Posted by nancy s.
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 2, 2011 at 1:23 pm

to downtown shopper et al. that complain about kids having time to skateboard downtown after school...don't you think they deserve a little break once they get out of school (class) to unwind before going home and doing their hours of homework. Downtown doesn't just belong to you. And guess what...they spend $$$ there too. My son has way too much homework. He comes home from school, has a snack and unwindds for about 30 minutes and then jumps into his 3 or 4 hours of homework, except during his sport season, when the 3 or 4 hours don't start until 8pm. Why don't you work a full day, then take 3 or 4 hours of your work home with you everynight. Homework should be review of the days class leason. Maybe a project and some reading. Not 30 fricking math problems, etc. etc.


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Posted by English teacher
a resident of Foothill High School
on Jan 2, 2011 at 4:53 pm

"...Why don't you work a full day, then take 3 or 4 hours of your work home with you everynight."

That's exactly what I do, for your kids.

Does your kid really have 3-4 hours of hw every night? If so, then I agree that that's excessive, but I suspect that he/she isn't really focussing on the assignments or is putting things off until the night before if homework is taking that long nightly.


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Posted by So you agree!
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 2, 2011 at 5:51 pm

"Does your kid really have 3-4 hours of hw every night? If so, then I agree that that's excessive, but I suspect that he/she isn't really focussing on the assignments or is putting things off until the night before if homework is taking that long nightly."

You are incorrect. My kids get a lot of homework, and they focus on the assignment but the amount is simply ridiculous. There is too much homework, period.

As for your full day: you must be an exception, my kids don't get projects and tests back for weeks afterwards, and the daily homework is graded by their peers or the TA (a student helping the teacher).

Maybe if ALL teachers were forced to grade ALL homework and tests and projects in a TIMELY manner WITHOUT help, they would see just how much work they are assigning.

And one more comment to the parent who called the kids in sick to "help" them: you did not teach your kids how to balance work with other commitments, you taught them how to lie and pretend they can handle more than they are capable. At some point, that bad habit will catch up and their work as adults will suffer for it. If the top colleges you say they got in had known about this habit during admission time, they might not have accepted them. Colleges want students who can TRULY balance their academics with other activities, not those who CHEAT, LIE and PRETEND they can handle it when in truth they can't handle it all unless their parent lies on their behalf.


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Posted by Really?
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 2, 2011 at 9:39 pm

It sounds like you're teaching your children that when life gets really busy and you can't cut out some of your extras just complain a lot. I also find it questionable that your children have 3-4 hours nightly and they are on task the entire time. Have you spoken to the teacher about this? I don't agree with excessive homework, but teaching kids how to balance their lives is crucial and that is your job to do how you chose.


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Posted by So you agree!
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 3, 2011 at 9:30 pm

"teaching kids how to balance their lives is crucial and that is your job to do how you chose. "

I agree, but the parent who called the kids in sick so they could finish their work did not teach kids how to balance their lives. Teaching a child to lie is not a good thing, and it certainly teaches the wrong values. It also reinforced those kids' teachers' belief that they were giving reasonable amounts of homework when in truth, those kids were struggling so much to finish the work that they had to lie and miss school.

Homework is too much in PUSD, and we can argue until the night falls but never agree. If you don't think it is too much, then by all means demand more homework, but don't make that homework be assigned to everyone. Many kids do not need so much homework in order to learn the concepts and score high on tests.

For me, the homework is too much and I am very happy to see the homework policy revised. I guess the fact that the policy is being revised says that I am not the only one who thinks homework is excessive.

Yes, many students and parents have talked to teachers. Unfortunately, many teachers are set on their ways (much like you and others arguing that homework cannot possibly be too much).


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Posted by Jerry
a resident of Avignon
on Jan 6, 2011 at 8:51 am

I have a solution for kids who think there is too much homework (and their parents of course):

Throw away your cell phones, TV, and video game consoles and you'll find plenty of time for homework and other things.


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Posted by PtownHS Parent
a resident of Downtown
on Jan 6, 2011 at 10:37 am

English Teacher posted:

"Does your kid really have 3-4 hours of hw every night? If so, then I agree that that's excessive, but I suspect that he/she isn't really focussing on the assignments or is putting things off until the night before if homework is taking that long nightly."

This is really disturbing because if you are an English Teacher our children are in for it. Have you heard of spell check? "FOCUSSING"

Yikes


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Posted by English Teacher
a resident of Foothill High School
on Jan 6, 2011 at 12:48 pm

At the risk of appearing pompous, I'll point out that the word can be spelled two ways: focusing or focussing.
Yikes!
Thanks.


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Posted by So you agree!
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 6, 2011 at 4:12 pm

focussing is a word, but not the way people write it in the US. It is like realize vs. realise (American vs. British English)

Let's not focus on the wrong thing. The point is that there is too much homework, and this English teacher has an attitude just like other teachers: they are set in their ways and cannot understand that yes, they are giving too much homework. They do not understand that students have more than just one class, and that they have a life outside of school. It would not be healthy for any child to go to school, do homework and that's it. Students need to be well rounded, through other extracurricular activities, whether that is volunteer work, sports, music, you name it, all these activities are necessary for a healthy development.

And no Jerry: kids are not necessarily watching TV or playing video games. Homework is too much, and it is an issue, so much that now the problem is being addressed by the administration.

I challenge EVERY teacher in PUSD to grade ALL work without help of TAs and without making the students grade each other's work, and do so in a TIMELY manner. If you do that, you may realize that you are giving too much work. It takes weeks to get work and tests back, or teachers simply stamp the work or make students or the TA grade it.

Maybe if teachers had to grade all the work in a timely manner without help, and did not rely on scantrons and multiple choice tests for the work they do grade, we would see a lot less homework assigned!


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Posted by FHS Student
a resident of Stoneridge
on Jan 8, 2011 at 11:38 pm

As a student, I know the foothill attendees of this panel and have heard from them regarding it.
They are all very high achieving seniors and have extremely difficult, time consuming classes. I have spoken to them several times and their schedules are taken over by school. They've had to give up activities between their junior and senior year that they love to do just to focus on their workload at school.

They love their teachers and classes, but the workload is a lot, not to mention the pressure. There's so much positive peer pressure to do well on an exam not only from students and parents.
I personally admire the students mentioned from my school very much. They're hard workers. And I really do never get to see them outside of school because they are so busy.

Yes, there are teenagers that take over downtown because they don't care that much about school. However, the rest of the student body thinks that they're idiots who need to get focused on their future.
The positive pressure is A LOT from the student body.

Long story short: It's cool to be a straight A student. Everyone wants to have a 4.3 GPA. Everyone wants Harvard/Stanford/Cal undergrad degrees.


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Posted by Poller Bear
a resident of California Somerset
on Jan 9, 2011 at 10:54 am

"I challenge EVERY teacher in PUSD to grade ALL work without help of TAs and without making the students grade each other's work, and do so in a TIMELY manner. If you do that, you may realize that you are giving too much work. It takes weeks to get work and tests back, or teachers simply stamp the work or make students or the TA grade it."

A student has 6 teachers a day; a teacher has up to 175 students a day. To say that a teacher should have 175 assignments to work on each day as equivalent to a student working on 6 is ridiculous in the extreme.


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Posted by Student once
a resident of Downtown
on Jan 12, 2011 at 2:29 pm

Back in the hay days I remember going to school learning the lesson for the day and getting a sheet of homework sent home with about 5 problems or questions pertaining to the lesson. Come back in the morning go through the homework for 5 minutes with the class to see if everyone understood the lesson before going to the next. Now what I see is that teachers do not teach the lessons first sometimes, they ask the students to do the homework see if they can do it and then discuss after. How frustrating could that be for a student who needs to do this for several different classes, why do we have teachers then, maybe they can do self study.

Come on teachers, share your knowledge positively with your students don't pass the buck.


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Posted by Mary
a resident of Birdland
on Jan 16, 2011 at 10:38 am

I am a teacher who teaches in Great Britain, and I find this article rather interesting. Let me give my point of view. There are many pros and cons about giving homework. I give homework for one reason, I like to grade my class on what they know,or don't know. If I assign twenty math problems, I am able to gauge which child needs extra help. Their test scores are very important to me. I look at each section to see if the children struggled in any given area. If I find that most struggled on section B, then I need to reteach. As a teacher I am responsible for that, not a parent. I believe that parental help is useful, but only after I have done my job. If I just stamped a child's work, I'm not doing my job. That's the easy way out.

Homework is important, but if kids in this area are getting a stamp on completion, then they are being cheated. No student is going to do their best work if they know that the teacher isn't going to look at it. Common sense isn't it. I also believe that important assignments like essay writing and projects should be given in class. This stops students from using the internet, causing them to cheat.

Good luck Pleasanton Kids.


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