Just read this article called Why we're getting the homework question wrong.
I agree with absolutely everything in this article, the premise of which is that hours of homework after a 7-hour day in school is counterproductive. Well, yes. There is this one thing, though--If schools are to change this situation and assign less homework, then they will actually have to teach during classroom hours, test less, and relate more with students and parents. Authentic assessment and a vested trust in quality teachers will have to be the norm. This ship may be too big to turn, but it's great that people are speaking up.
I am so grateful that we don't face this issue--that our kids are done with school at a reasonable time and are free to pursue their own interests, play make-believe, jump on the trampoline, tromp through the woods, draw, read, or climb a favorite tree with a favorite stuffed animal. Yes, they watch t.v. and play computer games sometimes, but these are not their primary activities. They play games, have nerf-gun wars, play with friends, ride scooters, set up army men...They engage in classic childhood play. The sad reality, however, is that they do this in a neighborhood that is nearly devoid of other children out playing after school hours because they are all stuck inside behind their desks, so my children have lost out on the community play that I remember so fondly as a kid. We have to be very intentional to get together with other homeschooling families to make time for play with friends (and we do--often).
I truly feel for the parents that I know who must send their children to school for reasons beyond their control, who recognize that life behind a desk may not be the best existence for a kid. I hope that this situation changes for their sakes...I really do.