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Summer Learning Day: Rethinking Summer School in ID

June 21, 2010

BOISE, Idaho - It may be summer break, but the learning continues for hundreds of Idaho kids as part of National Summer Learning Day today. It's an annual event to raise awareness about the importance of high-quality summer educational opportunities. In Idaho, NASA-funded events focusing on physics, robotics and space exploration are being showcased.

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 he notes that many school districts are cutting summer school to deal with shrinking budgets. He suggests that schools partner with community organizations and tap a mix of private and public funding to establish summer learning programs. Such partnerships are proving successful, with the NASA-funded events an example of that.

Details on the NASA grant and other Idaho events are at

Deb Courson, Public News Service - ID