Summer School Should Matter More

July 23, 2007

The research is mounting: it is simply insane to ignore the summer as we try to improve academic and life outcomes for low income kids. Low income kids lose even more ground in the summer than they do during the school year. Which is absolutely, positively not an argument for abandoning efforts to improve what happens in schools from September to June. But giving up on the summer is an invitation to disaster, because during the summer low income kids get next to nothing, while wealthier kids get lots of chances to grow, travel, explore new worlds, read, etc. (If you have any doubt how important the summer is, check out what people with means do to support their children’s growth over the summer.)

This issue provides a great chance for charter school and district school operators to come together and tell cities to adequately fund the summer, so that kids can get what they need and deserve. Right now many jurisdictions provide no summer school, others provide lousy options. And charter operators are often stuck with no summer supplements, or ones that are so small that you can’t run a good program with them. But as Beth Miller’s report for the Nellie Mae Foundation makes clear, there is mounting evidence about the effectiveness of high-quality hybrid summer programs that combine academics with sports, arts and other creative activities. So let’s demand more of these programs.

Update: Washington Post has a story on how school districts are expanding school options for kids, with good results.

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