In The News: Break Up the Big Break?

While some schools have shortened summer vacation to reduce summer learning loss, not everyone agrees that more school is the best way for kids to spend their summer.

These students attend eStem Public Charter School in Little Rock, where summer break is less than 8 weeks long.
These students attend eStem Public Charter School in Little Rock, where summer break is less than 8 weeks long.

Bobby Ampezzan of NPR affiliate KUAR spoke with school leaders and students at schools that have extended their school years by cutting summer vacation down. He also spoke with Jay Greene, who is critical of the idea. “It’s very popular to think that the solution to shortcomings in outcomes in school is more school,” Greene told Ampezzan.

People who are drawn to this solution tend to be people who liked school and did well in school and may have wanted to be in school more.

Kids who are not doing well in school don’t feel the same way, and so, from their perspective, incarcerating them more in something that they don’t like, don’t understand, and from which they don’t think they’re benefiting, is probably not a good idea.

As Ampezzan notes, Greene has studied the value of field trips to student learning and personal growth.  One study, “The Educational Value of Field Trips,” measured the impact of taking students to an art museum. Another, “Learning from Live Theater,” evaulated the effect of attending a play.

“One argument against [these trips] is it takes away from classroom instruction,” [Greene] says, which “I see as a similar kind of argument” as the one made against summer vacation by advocates of year-round school.

Greene tells Ampezzan that, rather than extending the school year, it would be better if all kids could spend their summers in enriching actvities like camps or trips.

Rich folks could enroll their kids in school in the summer. They don’t, generally. They send their kids to summer camp. They go on family vacations. Why do they do those things? They might know something. Don’t undersell them. They have a lot invested in this.

Earlier this summer, Mike Petrilli argued for “Closing the Gap in Access to Summer Camp and Extracurricular Activities” on the Ed Next blog.

– Education Next

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