By Shelly Masur and Jennifer Peck
When voters in San Mateo County go to the polls this Fall, it’s important to know what’s really at stake for our children’s education.
If statewide and local school funding measures do not pass, it will result in shorter school years, longer summers, and huge obstacles to learning for our students.
A shorter school year, and longer summer, means that more students will struggle academically and teachers will be forced to spend more time on catch-up and remedial 911 once the new school year begins. Decades of research tells us that children excluded from meaningful summer learning opportunities experience “summer learning loss” – the loss of critical academic skills and knowledge that sets students back when summer ends and the new school year begins.
Without access to summer camps, vacations, and private summer enrichment programs, children from low-income families are disproportionately at risk for summer learning loss. In addition, we know that students without summer learning opportunities are less likely to be physically active and eat well, increasing the conditions contributing to America's childhood obesity epidemic. A shorter school year isn’t just about fewer days in class; it’s also about what happens, or doesn’t happen, for kids over a longer summer. The result will be more barriers to students’ mental and physical development.
Fortunately, high quality summer learning programs have proven to combat summer learning loss and improve students’ health.
Right here in Redwood City, the Boys and Girls Club of the Peninsula helped 750 kids learn and stay active over the summer. Operated in partnership with the Redwood City School District and the Ravenswood City School District, their programs are designed to prevent summer learning loss, build awareness of college and career opportunities, and provide hands-on enrichment activities in arts, sports, and leadership. San Mateo County’s initiative to get all students reading at grade level by 3rd grade has also recognized the critical role summer plays in student success. These programs demonstrate how our community comes together to make sure that summer learning happens and our children don’t fall behind.
Summer learning programs are a vital complement to the regular school year, and we need adequate resources for both in order to effectively educate all children. When you go to the polls this November, keep in mind what’s at stake for our schools and communities. You and I can protect the academic year and protect our children’s learning opportunities by voting Yes on measures for our schools.
Shelly Masur is Vice President of the Redwood City School Board and Co-Chair of the Peninsula Partnership Leadership Council's Summer Learning Loss Committee. Jennifer Peck is the Executive Director of the Partnership for Children and Youth.
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