Regardless of your opinion (or mine) on the matter, we need to at least ask the question.
My less radical feeling towards homework is that we should alter the default from homework assigned on a daily basis, regardless of need or context, to homework being assigned only when it makes sense to do so.
My more radical response is that homework is something to be inspired, not assigned. And that the only time homework makes any kind of sense is when the students have a say. I call this the Mission Impossible Theory of Homework. It goes like this:
You're homework, if you choose to accept it...Critics might say that this is offering kids a blank cheque - but this is not the case. The point here is that like all optimal learning environments, the learner would have at least as much say in the homework as the teacher. Allowing the students to have all the say in homework would be as unfair and inappropriate as granting the teachers all the say.
Critics might also say that if the kids have a say in the homework, they might never do it. To this I have a couple responses. Firstly, such an assumption takes a disturbingly cynical and dark view of children -- one that perhaps tells us less about the nature of the child and more about the attitude of the adult. Secondly, if the learner would never do the homework with out some kind of coercion, then this might require a second look at what we are asking the kids to do. I've seen a lot of horrendous homework assignments that few members of the human race would want to do on their own free will.
Perhaps you whole-heartedly agree. Perhaps you vehemently oppose. Maybe we merely quibble over a turn of phrase. To what degree we see eye-to-eye on this issue is beside the point. Disagreement through dialogue is healthy - and perhaps the only way we ever get anything done. What concerns me is when a whole school-year goes by and these kinds of discussions are unheard of.