Original URL: http://www.azcentral.com/arizonarepublic/tempe/articles/0926HomeworkhotlineZ10.html

Homework hotlines are sizzling in Mesa

The Arizona Republic
Sept. 26, 2003 12:00 AM

Mel MelÚndez

Deb Harding was "warned" by her sons about using the phone between the hours of 4 and 8 p.m. But Harding never seemed to mind because that was the time her kids phoned Mesa Public Schools' Homework Hotline to get help with their math homework.

"Math is not my strong point, so I was thrilled that my sons Ryan and Robert could call in," she said. "And believe me, they did. Nobody was allowed to use the phone during Homework Hotline time."

With more schools launching homework and tutoring clubs, gaining help for students has never been easier. But more school districts, including Mesa, also employ interactive measures that bring academic assistance into the privacy of students' homes.

Mesa has operated Homework Hotline at (480) 472-0093 for 13 years. The phone-in service backs a one-hour television show of the same name that airs Monday through Thursdays from 6 to 7 p.m. on cable access Channel 99. The school district's Educational Television Department produces both programs in-house at minimal costs, officials said.

Phone lines open at 4, with Mesa math teachers assisting third- through 12th-graders with homework. A handful of questions are answered live during the Homework Hotline TV show, which typically features lessons, ranging from basic multiplication to advanced calculus problems.

All lessons are based on the state's standards for instruction, and hotline teachers have Mesa math textbooks on hand to answer students' specific questions.

Mesa also produces Temas Educativos (Educational Themes,) a Spanish-language series for parents that aims to equip them with the tools to help English learners excel. It also became one of the first school districts in the Valley to institute a bilingual help line for parents, AYUDA. About 8,000 of the district's students are English-language learners.