How to Save Summer School
Posted: Tuesday Jul 12, 2011

It may not be a topic that children want to talk about, but the summer can be a time when learning takes the backseat to parks, camps and games. In a previous post, we noted that summer learning loss is real and cumulative, with low-income children losing as much as one month of literacy skills every summer. As that post noted, there are ways to reverse this mainly through summer learning programs offered by school districts. Then there are the budget issues that are facing so many school districts, which adds a bit of a crinkle.

Over at the New York Times, a discussion has recently been struck up to try to understand summer school from both of these vantage points.

Kathleen Porter-Magee, senior director of the High Quality Standards Project at the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, began the discussion:

Summer school is a relic of the past. It’s a stopgap measure used to try to help students master the essential content they missed during the academic year. Unfortunately, any educator can tell you that it’s nearly impossible in four to six weeks to make up for instruction lost during the 180 days that preceded them. And, while many summer school programs have been shown to help lessen the effects of summer loss, there is a more straightforward and less costly solution to that problem: eliminate summer vacation altogether.

She was followed by Geoffrey Canada, president and chief executive officer of the Harlem Children’s Zone and president of the Harlem Children’s Zone Promise Academy Charter Schools:

I have watched the budget debates across the country with a sense of alarm bordering on panic. The question on the table is how many trillions we must cut to bring fiscal sanity back to our country. At the same time, we must not make decisions that save money in the short term, but leave our country unable to prepare for a more competitive future.

To see all of the participants in the exchange check out the link below.

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