The Sun article "Baltimore school board debates summer school cuts" (March 25) elevates the critical issue of summer learning and the impact proposed cuts to programs like Read to Succeed will have on thousands of Baltimore youth and families. Eliminating summer programs will deeply affect working families who have come to depend on them while accelerating the cumulative effects of summer learning loss that land more than 40 percent of Baltimore students in remedial classes in our public universities — hardly the answer to achieving CEO Gregory Thornton's goal of college and career readiness for all students.
When done well and sustained over multiple years, research shows that summer programs can improve reading and math skills, school year attendance and behavior. Despite low attendance, average kindergarten Read to Succeed participants came back to school with better reading scores than a matched group of their peers who didn't participate; first grade participants came back doing significantly better than their peers on average. More than 90 percent of parents reported that their children were more confident readers and were better prepared for school because of the program. In a time when many school-year interventions show no difference, this five-week win is to be celebrated.
Baltimore's students need our leaders to do the hard work of offering solutions, not cuts to quality summer learning programs. Let's work with Mayor Rawlings-Blake to tap into the reported $12.4 million surplus in city revenues to continue to improve these critical programs. Let's use the last month of school to equip teachers, students and families with resources to keep kids learning over the summer. Let's use the summer months to engage more deeply with students and families to understand why regular attendance is a challenge during the school year. The National Summer Learning Association is here and ready to help.
Source: Sarah Pitcock, CEO of the National Summer Learning Association, at The Baltimore Sun