Districts use social media to uncover hidden challenges

Practice makes perfect—or does it?

School officials in Savannah, Ga., are considering scaling back the amount of homework assigned to students after parents complained that too much take-home work was creating stress at home.

Jolene Byrne, president of the Savannah-Chatham County Public School System, told the Morning News she made the request after concerned parents commented on a Huffington Post article shared on her Facebook page.

The article generated 45 likes and nine comments from members of the local school community. Nationally, the same piece elicited more than 5,300 likes from parents, community advocates and others.

Though homework has long been viewed as integral to student success, parents in Savannah say too much take-home practice stokes frustration, prevents families from spending quality time together and keeps anxious students up at night.

These were among the concerns Byrne considered when she emailed district administrators and asked them to ponder a change.

Here is an excerpt of Byrne’s email, as reported by the Morning News:

“My current hope is that we eliminate homework for K to 3rd, limit it to no more than 30 minutes for 4th and 5th, one hour for 6th to 8th, and two hours for 9th to 12th. This recommendation is based on research that shows there is no added benefit for homework beyond these limits and that there are diminishing returns for any additional work.”

Power to the parents
This is not the first time that social media has influenced school decision making.

As parents continue to adopt Twitter, Facebook and other online applications, savvy administrators increasingly use these tools as a sounding board for public opinion.

Superintendents, school board members and other community leaders leverage the technology to develop a deeper understanding of the issues and challenges they face, often before they make critical decisions.

Occasionally, as was the case in Savannah, they uncover issues they didn’t even know they had.

Does your school or district have a system in place to track and monitor what parents and other members of the community are talking about online? It should.

About the Author

Corey Murray
Corey is executive editor of TrustED. Email: cmurray@k12insight.com.

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