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Fifth Graders' Petition Inspires Review Of Homework Policies In Rockland County

STONY POINT, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) – There's an unusual petition circulating in Rockland County.

Students are gathering signatures to lessen their homework load. They say they have too much, and some educators say they might be right.

As CBS2's Hazel Sanchez reported, 11-year-old Niko Keeley and 10-year-old Christopher Deleon – classmates at Farley Elementary School in Stony Point -- have typical fifth grade opinions.

"I hate homework. It stresses me out," said Keeley.

But their approach to handling the stress was far from typical.

"He was like, 'Chris, so I have an idea, I want no homework.' And I was like, 'OK, that sounds pretty good. I think everyone would agree on that,'" Deleon said.

"First thing I think -- no homework, paper, signatures," added Keeley.

The pair started a petition to ban homework, collecting more than 150 signatures from students who felt they had too much and often didn't have the guidance they needed at home.

"Some people, their parents aren't home to help them with their homework," Keeley said.

Deleon's mom, while proud of his initiative, had mixed emotions about the boys' mission. She's a teacher at their school.

"I was a little nervous, like 'but I'm a teacher here, you're supposed to be doing homework,' that was the thought," she said.

More: Patchogue Schools Experiment With Expanded Recess, Less Homework

The petition landed on the desk of North Rockland County's Assistant School Superintendent Kris Felicello, prompting administrators to review homework policies across the district.

"It's not about banning homework. It's about looking at it differently and how are we going to do it better," he said.

Peggy Macnamara, from Bank Street Graduate School of Education, told Sanchez no homework can be detrimental.

"They lose sort of an independence of themselves, of what they can do on their own," she said.

She said there is such a thing as too much homework, recommending fifth graders get about 30 minutes of meaningful work – not busy work.

"If I'm giving you homework where you're not learning anything from that homework, that's not helpful homework," she said.

In the meantime, Keeley and Deleon are thrilled about the conversation they've started.

"It makes me feel powerful and important," Deleon said.

The homework policies and recommendations inspired by their petition still need some fine-tuning but are expected to be implemented in the fall of 2019.

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