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Schiavo bill aims to alleviate student stress, change homework 

Assemblywoman Pilar Schiavo, D-Chatsworth, held a news conference last week to discuss her new bill focused on changing homework policies. Screenshot.
Assemblywoman Pilar Schiavo, D-Chatsworth, held a news conference last week to discuss her new bill focused on changing homework policies. Screenshot.
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Assemblywoman Pilar Schiavo, D-Chatsworth, held a news conference last week in Sacramento to discuss her new bill, the Healthy Homework Act, and how it would help to alleviate student stress through changes in homework. 

Assembly Bill 2099, introduced earlier this year by Schiavo and sponsored by four other Democrats in the Assembly, does not ban homework, Schiavo said, but directs public school districts to create homework policies by the 2027-28 school year that would better benefit student learning without putting them under more stress. 

“I’ve spent the last year talking to every single teacher and parent and student that I can talk to, and administrators, to get their thoughts on homework, and I have been hard pressed to find teachers who love homework,” Schiavo said. “And I am definitely hard pressed to find students who love homework.” 

The bill is being reviewed by the Assembly Committee on Appropriations. 

Should the bill pass, school districts would be directed to hold two public meetings to develop and adopt their homework policies. Districts would also have to post their policy publicly and update it every five years. 

The state Department of Education would be required to post guidelines for developing homework policies by Jan. 1, 2026. 

Should the bill cause school districts to have to spend money to meet the guidelines of their policy, the state would reimburse those districts for certain costs. 

According to the bill, research shows that 45% of students consider homework a primary source of stress, and adding more homework can cause them to not meet developmental needs or cultivate critical life skills. That, the bill states, leads to students dropping activities, not seeing friends or family and choosing to not pursue hobbies that they enjoy. 

Schiavo said the idea of the bill came from her daughter, Sophia, a sixth-grade student, who spoke at the news conference. During her campaign in 2022, Sophia asked her mom if she would have the power to ban homework, Schiavo said. 

Assemblywoman Pilar Schiavo, D-Chatsworth, brought her daughter, Sophia, to speak during a news conference held in Sacramento last week for her new bill focused on changing homework policies. Screenshot.
Assemblywoman Pilar Schiavo, D-Chatsworth, brought her daughter, Sophia, to speak during a news conference held in Sacramento last week for her new bill focused on changing homework policies. Screenshot.

Last week, Sophia explained why she brought that up. 

“Homework is exhausting. It’s overwhelming,” Sophia said. “And it’s depressing that my whole day, from when I wake up until when I go to bed, is nearly all taken up with schoolwork. With most of my time scheduled for me, it’s making me not like school at all.” 

According to Denise Pope, a senior lecturer in education at Stanford, of 13,000 California high school students who were surveyed, the average amount of homework was two and a half hours. 

That, she said, leaves little time for sleep, time with friends and family and other extracurricular activities after also spending seven to eight hours in school each day. 

“This isn’t just a frivolous thing, it turns out,” Pope said. “Extensive research will show you that playtime, downtime and family time are considered protective factors and are fundamental to healthy children.” 

Schiavo added that more homework could also lead to more time using screens and students learning poor time management skills as most of their time would be spent doing only one thing. 

“We’re asking students to do actually three shifts,” Schiavo said. “They go to school all day and then they go to after-school or after-school activities, and then come home and sit at the table in the evening and work all night on their homework.” 

Valencia High School teacher Casey Cuny spoke at a news conference last week on Assemblywoman Pilar Schiavo's new bill seeking to change homework policies. Screenshot.
Valencia High School teacher Casey Cuny spoke at a news conference last week on Assemblywoman Pilar Schiavo’s new bill seeking to change homework policies. Screenshot.

Also in Sacramento for the news conference was Casey Cuny, a Valencia High School English teacher and one of five teachers selected as the 2023-24 California Teachers of the Year.  

Cuny said he initially taught the way that he was taught, meaning lots of homework. These days, Cuny focuses more on teaching in the classroom and only assigning small amounts of homework to reinforce certain ideas. 

“I think there’s enough time in the classroom for the learning to take place in the classroom with the professional,” Cuny said. “There is space for meaningful homework, but it doesn’t need to be 50 problems.” 

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