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Nat'l Summer Learning Day: Extreme Makeover for CA Summer School?

June 21, 2010

LOS ANGELES - 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 meant to raise awareness of the importance of high-quality summer educational opportunities for all kids, and in California, events include children's theater, nature treasure hunts, creating books, and museum trips.

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."

Still, he notes that many school districts are cutting summer school to deal with shrinking budgets. Fairchild says schools can partner with community organizations and tap a mix of private and public funding to establish summer learning programs.

California lawmakers are also taking a closer look at the importance of summer learning. A legislative task force has been created to focus on the issue and make policy recommendations.

California events are set today in San Diego, Inland Empire, Bakersfield, San Jose and San Francisco.

Details on all California events are at www.summerlearning.org

Lori Abbott, Public News Service - CA