First Lady Michelle Obama added Let’s Read! to her Let’s Move campaign. School districts all over the country are sending low-income kids home on the last day with free books to prevent the summer slide. The Washington Post‘s Answer Sheet writes about parents and community organizations coming together to figure out what to do to help kids retain what they learned during the school year.
I have a better idea, and one that’s so easy:
Send the kids to school. Not summer school, but real school. Let’s lengthen America’s ridiculously short school year and shorten its ridiculously long summer break. Eight, nine, ten weeks for a break? That’s far too long.
I know, I know. What about vacation plans? What about the kids’ sport? Adjust! Just adjust.
A longer school year with more actual class days — and I’m not talking about year-round schools with a month off in October, etc. — would kill a lot of birds with one stone. It would raise the salaries of teachers, who would get paid for the additional work. It would solve childcare problems for families (I’m not calling schools daycare, just accepting the reality of school hours and work hours). It would save municipalities money; they’re often left with having to organize and fund summer programs that basically ARE daycare for kids with working parents. It would lessen the intensity with which the standards are being taught — all that cramming into a single year. Schools would be able to do more than just the basics. And, of course, it would solve the summer slide.
It might also cut down the intensity with which we celebrate the end of the school year.
The downside? One less perennial topic for magazines, newspapers, and websites to cover. Oh, sigh.
A four-week break in the middle of summer seems perfect to me. Why is the American summer break so sacred?
Photo: mclive.com via Times