LOS ANGELES -- Vanessa Perez was a homework scofflaw. The Marshall High School senior didn't finish all of it -- largely because she worked 24 hours a week at a Subway sandwich shop.
Alvaro Ramirez, a junior at the Santee Education Complex, doesn't have his own room and his mother baby-sits young children at night. "They're always there and they're always loud," he said, explaining his challenges with homework.
The Los Angeles Unified School District, the nation's second-largest school system, has decided to give students like these a break. A new policy decrees that homework can count for only 10 percent of a student's grade.
Critics -- mostly teachers -- worry that the policy will encourage students to slack off assigned work and even reward those who already disregard assignments. And they say it could penalize hardworking students who receive higher marks for effort.