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Partnerships Changing the Face of Summer School in MO

June 21, 2010

ST. LOUIS - It may be summer break, but a busy day is planned for thousands of children as part of National Summer Learning Day today. It's an annual event intended to raise awareness of the importance of high-quality summer educational opportunities for all kids. Across the state of Missouri, from Kansas City to St. Louis, partnerships between school districts and community groups, and an infusion of public and private funding, are giving kids a new summer learning experience.

Ron Fairchild, who is CEO of the National Summer Learning Association, says it's also a chance to talk about education reform for summer school. He shares a new vision that goes beyond remedial classes and test preparation.

"I see one that is much more enriching, can help kids catch up, keep up, and work ahead, while exploring some new talents and some new skills that they need in order to be successful in school and in life."

Fairchild says it's been well documented that kids fall behind academically during the vacation months if they don't have access to quality learning programs, and children in low-income families lose the most ground when the school doors close.

"They lose access to educational opportunity, nutritious meals and snacks, and to safe places with adult supervision, and so the challenge is to expand these kinds of opportunities for all kids in this country."

Yet Fairchild notes that while some summer programs in Missouri are now on the cutting edge, many school districts are cutting back on summer school and "Parents As Teachers" programs to deal with shrinking budgets.

Details on Missouri events are at www.summerlearning.org

Heather Claybrook, Public News Service - MO