Amid growing calls for higher education standards, a City Council member is urging the Department of Education to limit the amount of homework teachers assign students each night.
Peter Vallone Jr., who represents parts of Queens, said his two daughters are routinely swamped with homework and stuck at home, slogging through it.
"As a parent, I have been unable to have fun with my kids. We can't go for bike rides. We can't go to the park. We can't go to the museum, and that's not fair," he said.
Mr. Vallone said he understands that the Department of Education is aiming to improve test scores, but he said an emphasis on homework is taking away students' childhoods and contributing to child obesity by forcing children to stay at home with their books.
He plans to introduce a resolution next month calling for homework in public schools to be limited to 2 1/2 hours a night and said he wants the Department of Education to create a weekly homework-free night.
A movement against homework is growing around the country, spurred on by the publication of two books in 2006: "The Homework Myth: Why Our Kids Get Too Much of a Bad Thing," by Alfie Kohn, and "The Case Against Homework: How Homework Is Hurting Our Children and What We Can Do About It," by Sara Bennett and Nancy Kalish.
The executive director of the advocacy group Democrats for Education Reform, Joseph Williams, said in an e-mail message that everyone feels as if their children's workloads are "a bit too much" at times. "But classroom teachers are the best ones to decide how much work is appropriate for specific students ó not city council members," he said.
The executive director of Class Size Matters and a public school parent, Leonie Haimson, said children are overburdened with homework but that it can be necessary to make up for "the weaknesses of the classroom." She said she did not know how a limit on homework would be enforced.
"I think the research is pretty clear that homework doesn't help until you get to a certain age. But I'm not opposed to it, because I just feel like there's certain things that my kid isn't getting in school," she said.
A spokeswoman for the Department of Education, Maibe Gonzalez-Fuentes, wrote in an e-mail message that the department would be happy to review Mr. Vallone's proposal and any information he presents about homework in the city's schools.