I do find value in spending time with students going over their spelling projects and reading what their essays are discussing. If you are participating in the public school system I would suggest that you read all of their text books every year! My father did this and I followed his example when my children did attend public school. In fact, it was one of the reasons we decided to home school. The English book which had numerous essays on rebelling against parents, moral issues that were objectionable, and a poem about the beauty of stoning a policeman caused me to immediately ask that the book be removed from the classroom. The school would not honor that request and we brought our children home.
I do not think all homework from the public system is bad, but when it takes hours to complete then I do question the actions of the teachers during the school time. Are they using that time to teach objectionable material that they do not want the parents to be aware of? In the home school environment we get to chose when and what the student is exposed to and how they are to interact with it.