An Op-Ed piece in the Christian Science Monitor is "A Mom's Plea: Don't Make Me Do School Projects." I admit that I was a bit put off by the title. My initial reaction was "Who asked you to?" As a teacher, I've seen more than enough projects that were obviously not done by students. At least one elementary school in my district has a policy that kids can bring the "stuff" for their projects, but work must be done at school. It has kept the parental interference to a minimum.
Delving further into the Monitor article, it appears that the mom is upset by a few different things. One is the sheer diversity of projects ("What ever happened to the written word?"). I support the need for differentiation, but at some point, teachers need to offer some options. Not everyone needs to make a puppet. Another complaint is the tendency for teachers to give group grades. I fully support her here. It is not fair to a student to be held accountable for the learning of others. If you must, give a part of the grade for how well kids work as a group. Outcomes need to be individual.
Mom's biggest rant however, is firmly in her own backyard to solve. This woman is a serious enabler. If the kid waits until 10:30 on a Sunday night to tell you that they need a Big Mac box to take to school in the morning, you know what? It doesn't mean that you need to drive over to Mickey D's right that minute. You need to go to Walgreens at the last moment to pick up a box of sugar cubes? Why didn't you look at your child's planner when s/he got home from school...or check the teacher's letter or website...to see what the upcoming assignments were? Is there no real communication expected on the part of the student to the parent. Granted, no parent wants to see their kid fail, but at some point, you need to put the problem-solving back on the student's shoulders. "You need a small box for tomorrow? What can you do about that?"
I don't begrudge the frustrated mom that projects take time and that there can be quite a few over the course of the year and across the curriculum. Teachers and schools would do well to think about that. However, most teachers provide extended timelines for these assignments. Maybe there would be a lot less frustration at home if time management and personal responsibility played a larger role in completing homework.