There's a thread over at the Editorial page at the Times about summertime homework following from a story (linked at the blog) in the Washington Post. The dilemma is the belief that kids lose a lot of learning power during the summer so some schools have reading list assignments or even homework assignments. The flip side is "it's summer, let'em relax".
I'd be somewhere in the middle. When my kids were younger, we always participated in the Seattle Library's summer reading program. They got charted for progress, got little prizes and a there was a party at the end. Pretty painless and it kept up their reading.
I'm not big on assignments because it feels punitive. However, if your child had a poor grade in math or was struggling with reading, giving them the whole summer off is not going to help.
It also brings up the point of whether year-round school makes sense. Is 6 weeks in the summer enough of a break? Would it keep the learning levels higher?