Over the past four years, the number of day camps in the U.S. has risen by 40%, according to the American Camp Association...Of some 55 million U.S. schoolchildren, 14million are enrolled in a summer program. A survey by the Afterschool Alliance, a group advocating for more programs for kids, indicated that some 24 million more would join a summer camp if one was affordable and accessible... -- Avery Johnson, "The Day-Camp Boom," The New Yorker, August 26, 2013.
August 27, 2013: School begins, and students and teachers grapple with "summer learning loss" -- an average of one month of instruction per year -- which means, for some children, that new learning will not begin to occur until October.
From freelance writer Avery Johnson's post in The New Yorker:
...Low-income children lose two to three months’ worth of reading skills, on average, over the summer, while their higher-income peers hardly regress at all, according to research from the University of Missouri-Columbia. By the ninth grade, two-thirds of the gap in reading skills between high- and low-income students can be attributed to knowledge that has deteriorated over the summer, a Johns Hopkins study found. From there, it gets worse: kids fall behind in school, leading to higher dropout rates and fewer opportunities for decent wages. A 2009 McKinsey & Co. study concluded that the achievement gap between high- and low-income children in the U.S. had an effect on the economy similar to that of some recent recessions..."
The National Summer Learning Association reports:
- Children lose more than academic knowledge over the summer. Most children—particularly children at high risk of obesity—gain weight more rapidly when they are out of school during summer break (Von Hippel et al, 2007).
Johnson's article (written from an East Coast anecdotal base) focuses on the role of day camps in helping to alleviate summer learning loss -- but concludes that for lower-income families, cost and logistics are significant obstacles:
...Decent summer programs exist for lower-income kids, through Y.M.C.A.s, community centers, and scholarship programs. A program called the Summer Learning Project, for instance, gives free daily lessons and enrichment activities, including nature trips, to children from Boston public schools. LINX, for its part, offers scholarships to try to broaden its reach. [Peg Smith, CEO of the American Camp Association] says her 2,700-member camps give out $216 million a year in [scholarships]. Is it enough? “No,” she said. “Access is still an issue.”
Reporting last month on KPCC public radio in Southern California last month, Deepa Fernandes noted:
...low-income kids have few educational options. Los Angeles Universal Preschool, the largest provider of free preschool in Los Angeles, used to have enough money for its providers to keep children year round. But then its budget got cut. ... LAUP supervisor, Sharon Muhammad [said] that left them few options. “We had to make a decision that we would not fund the summer programs.”
Astrid Feist, a preschool support coach for the group, points out that even free activities at the local library or YMCA only last a few hours, and they require a parent or caregiver to drive kids to and fro. She says that’s unrealistic for working poor parents...
Michelle Maitre, writing on EdSource (July 23, 2013), covered the learning loss issue from the point of view of public schools expenditures on summer school programs (researched under a Ford Foundation grant focusing on "expanded learning time"):
...Five years ago, L.A. Unified’s summer school budget was $42 million, said Javier Sandoval, LAUSD’s intervention administrator for summer school programs. This year, the district eked out $1 million to salvage what courses it could, he said.
Contrast that with the estimated 26,500 students who are expected to participate in summer enrichment programs at some 200 elementary and middle school campuses throughout L.A. Unified.
The district does not provide any of its own core budget to support the enrichment programs, said Tim Bower, director of summer programs for LAUSD. Instead, the district receives about $6 million in supplemental grants for summer learning from the state’s After School Education and Safety program. Additional programming is provided by the nonprofit L.A.’s Best, which receives a $135,000 grant from the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, among other state and federal funding, to run the programs...