“Summer learning loss” is well documented and distressing. Millions of kids laze around during the long summer vacation and forget chunks of what they had learned by June. This problem is most acute among those that can least afford it: low-income students without the resources or opportunity to attend summer camp or enrichment programs, and whose parents may not push hard on out-of-school reading. That’s one reason many high-performing charter schools operate virtually year round. (By contrast, states would rather cut the already-too-short school year—remember the Hawaii debacle?—to save money.) But extending the regular school year may not be right for everyone. So say some education entrepreneurs who see summer as an opportunity to experiment with innovative new curricula, hire excellent but unconventional teaching staff, and execute programs not allowed under traditional public-school protocols. Why keep kids longer in schools that are failing them for 180 days a year? Summer vacation may be an archaic relic of our agrarian past, but it’s also an opportunity for all sorts of learning.
“The Case Against Summer Vacation,” by David von Drehle, TIME Magazine, August 2, 2010