The modern world produces more information on a daily basis than the average student can absorb in a lifetime. Although schools foolishly attempt to play catch up by mounding school work and homework onto students, these futile efforts are far too inefficient. This means schools must find smarter ways of educating students by ensuring they have the skills that they need to become self-learners. It is important to remember formal education is only part of the lifelong learning process, thus homework is oppressive when it inhibits life learning.
Assigning homework is not a requirement of good education; but rather, homework results from a strong curriculum that needs to be reinforced. Today, parents expect their kids in all levels of education to come home with a mountain of homework, or at least the administrations of educational institutes think they do, because a lack of homework seems to translate into a lack of learning. In reality, homework is only necessary when students need concepts reinforced or practice allows students to apply their newly learned skills to alternative applications.
Math courses load students down with challenging and, sometimes, oppressive problem sets. When students are forced to spend their time on so many problems, little learning is actually occurring. A handful of problems should be enough to reinforce the techniques taught in the classroom. On the other hand, other problems are designed to help students adapt their techniques in order to address more novel problems. Skill training is part of the learning process, but trying to expand the application of techniques too far with too many applications at once can hurt the quality of the lesson.
While the same is clearly true of other subject areas like literature, properly reading an assigned passage, or composition, is not a simple task. Students need time to fully assess the material they are given; otherwise, classroom lessons are pointless. Likewise, other homework assignments suffer the same issue. Because students take many classes with often heavy burdens, it is important for teachers to give students time to complete assignments and/or find a way to better coordinate assignments with other teachers, so the homework can be more meaningful.
Homework is too oppressive when it becomes a futile, mechanical exercise. Quality over quantity is what counts. Meanwhile, education is about becoming smarter, thereby, requiring teachers to find better ways of reinforcing their lessons. Consuming the free time of students does absolutely no good. Certainly, it does, however, deny students life and social experiences that they can learn from while it also discourages them from pursuing advanced educational programs. Moreover, work harder not smarter seems to be the motto when we need the very opposite.