The work given over Winter and Summer break is irrational and inhumane.
I am an 11th grade student attending a public highschool in Miami, Fl. The date is Sunday, 1/5/2014 and school resumes from winter "break" tomorrow. I am creating this petition because I know that when I say the amount of work that teachers assign over the break is too much, I do not speak for myself. The students in my school are very diverse. A handful of them are honor roll students, those who receive A's and B's. Another handful of those students receive A's B's and C's (me) and the rest receive bad grades and do not try. I am here to speak for the students who put their efforts into working, like myself and the honor roll students which take up the majority of the eleventh grade in my school and every school across the nation. Everybody understands that winter break literally means taking a break from school over the holidays, spending time with your family, enjoying yourself, and reducing all the stress. But the only people that do not understand this are the teachers! This winter break, I, along with all the eleventh graders with the same English and history teachers, was assigned a book to read, Into the Wild, along with 35 study guide questions requiring critical thinking and analytical skills, in which the answer needed to provide how we found the answer and where in the book it was... that part is not mandatory but if we do that it will help us on the exam, and if we don't we fail the exam, so we are sort of forced to do it if we want a good grade. Also, the same teacher assigned us 2 speeches, a long one and a short one, in which we were told to fill out 2 rhetorical triangles. Those are triangles where in one we highlight the speaker, the context, and the audience, and in the second triangle, ethos (why the speaker is credulous) pathos (the emotions the speaker conveys and how) and logos (all the logic implied in the writing, and if we strive for a good grade we have no time to be with our families. This is no handy-dandy homework, this is full-fledged assassination upon our brains. AND IT'S ONLY HALF. The other half, is a study guide for AP US History, possibly one of the most demanding and difficult classes on my schedule. My teacher, I will admit is one of the best teachers I have ever had. He is enthusiastic, knowledgeable, and strict. Over the break, he assigned us a whole study guide with 44 different topics spanning over 2 chapters, where we have to define and state their historical significance, and he told us to review the years between 1787-1801 without being specific as to what he wanted us to study, which is smart upon his thought because he wants us to study all those years... We will be having that EXAM at the end of this week. But oh wait, this study guide is being graded so if we don't do what he asks, we do not get the grade we strive for. That is a homework he gives regularly before we have the test, but I mean on top of all that we have to do already, we need to do that as well? He was nice and gave us 2 weeks to complete the study guide, on a regular week he gives us the same time to prepare! But the homework load is much less throughout the week and throughout that week we are constantly studying the material, so we become better prepared. But with my English teacher giving triple the load of homework and combining it with that is just unfair and an abuse of power. I am grateful for having a great education, but in my inexperienced but valid opinion, I believe that teachers assign this much work to get ahead in their planning. They don't know that we are on "break" for 2 weeks. They don't know that we have to be with family for 2 weeks. They don't understand this because they are the teachers and we are the students. They do not work as much as we do over the break. I know that over the break, we come back to school and forget everything we learned 2 weeks before and that is why teachers give us work over break, but I am sure that it wouldn't hurt if they reduced the work load. We as students being birthed into a society where demand is high and opinions are spit on are feeling pressured and rushed due to the outrageous loads of homework assigned. Over a regular school week homework is excessive, but it is rational. The thing is, NOBODY DOES IT! So in schools across the nation, students cheat on exams and homework. Neil deGrasse Tyson tweeted on 4/14/13 stating "When Students cheat on exams, it's because our School System values grades more than Students value learning." It took me a while to understand this but when it clicked my mind was blown. If you don't understand what this means, basically the school system much rather have high grades to make them look good rather than students actually learning the material they received. This goes back to the same issue we started with. Over the 2 weeks of break we receive, teachers assign mandatory work and if you do it other than how it should be done, you do not get the grade you want. So alot of students decide cheat, and give the school good looks, but the students are not really learning. They feel that they need good grades to succeed which is not true. Schools make it seem that way, thanks to the work load given over winter break. The work teachers assign over a 2 week period can be compared to regular homework give throughout the course of a month and a half in total! And we are supposed to finish all these assignments according to their standards, while spending time with family that you don't see every day, week, month, season? I don't think its possible doing it. It's just too much. I am writing this petition with support from my fellow classmates ranging in ages of 16-17. You all probably think we are saying this because we are teenagers and we have no credibility or logic, but I will have you know, our teachers have taught us long and hard how to provide an argument, and I believe that my argument is valid. Jessica Lahey, a publisher for the New York Times, in her article "The Destructive 'Too Much Homework'Myth" she states that she teaches middle school Latin and Enlgish. I remember middle school, and it was not easy. She says "According to the Brown Center Report on American Education, American students have one of the lightest homework loads in the world, typically less than one hour per day." That is an unrealistic statement although she provides credibility, because you see, in every syllabus I have ever received and given to my parents to sign, it says "students are expected to spend at least 2 hours on homework A NIGHT." Also, according to Edutopia.com's poll on "If today's students have too much homework", 75% with 3664 votes said "Yes. I see many students struggling with the amount of homework assigned. With fewer and shorter assignments, students would learn and become more engaged in their work both at school and at home." 4% said "No. Substantial homework is crucial to student achievement. Students build essential skills both in academic subjects and work ethic when they are required to complete take-home assignments." With all this being said, I understand where teachers are coming from. They just want us to keep up the pace so that we aren't slow the first week upon returning to school. All we are asking is for in achieving our goal of reducing the work load given over winter break. We need time off from school and stress. If not, what is the meaning of "break"? We want to make a change not just for us, but for the nation. We have always been terrified to confront our teachers or principals about making a change, we mostly just complain. I am reaching out to students like me and parents sharing my beliefs about that nation's school system. Consider this a friendly protest to reduce work load just enough so that we can be with family, enjoy ourselves, and just overall learning without too much time being consumed and without any white hairs growing out of our heads over winter and summer break. Thank you all very much.