The headline basically tells you everything the article is going to say: “Budget woes force cuts in summer-school programs”. It pretty much sums up what happened here in the overly-large school district this year.
However, what the writer doesn’t discuss is how summer school is really an anachronism in the American education system, something illustrated by this thought.
“Summer is a time when affluent kids advance and low-income kids suffer huge setbacks,” said Ron Fairchild, executive director of Johns Hopkins University’s Center for Summer Learning. “If kids aren’t engaged in ongoing learning activities, they lose ground academically.”
Of course kids need “ongoing learning activities”. But who says it needs to be in a school building, most likely using the same instructional format used during “normal” school?
And is it possible that low-income kids fall behind over the 2-3 month break while affluent kids don’t for reasons that have nothing to do with summer school?
So maybe, rather than just cutting back on summer school programs (and restoring them when the economy improves), we should take this opportunity to kill it altogether.
We start that process by rejecting the concept that learning has distinct starting and ending points (September to June), can be compartmentalized into chunks of roughly nine months, and that all kids of a certain chronological age must fit in the same compartment.
Oh, and that we can squeeze those nine months of learning into six weeks if the teaching didn’t stick the first time through.
I know… that kind of thinking will also lead to many more changes to our educational system that go far beyond the simple alteration of the calendar.
But we’re way past the time to admit that our cookie cutter, assembly line approach to teaching and learning has failed and needs replacing.