The COVID pandemic cost many students most or all of the school year, and now it may cost them their summer break to make up for it. With the CDC now calling for schools to reopen for in-person learning, President Joe Biden's nominee for Deputy Secretary of Education Cynthia Marten recently called for federal CARES Act funds to be used for districts to set up "enhanced" summer learning experiences. These experiences are designed to help kids make up for all the lost learning time during the past year-and-a-half.
What exactly these learning experiences would entail remains a mystery, but education expert Jean Burk, CEO of College Prep Genius, is dubious of the whole idea. "I don't think teachers nor students want their summer taken up by doing school...it's not (the students) fault anyway, and I don't think you can make it up that way because the kids' hearts aren't going to be in it," she says.
"If we've got 60 percent of kids dropping out already right now, counting virtual dropouts, then I don't think taking away someone's summer is going to help," she continues. "That's just going to frustrate parents and students."
Burk tells KTRH there are better and more efficient ways to get kids caught up on the classroom time they've missed over the past year. "Teach only the core classes, get rid of all the fodder," she says. "Drop the STAAR test and all these exams that don't mean anything, and go back to the three Rs...if you just do that, kids can catch up very quickly."
In the meantime, Burk believes young people can still learn during the summer, but they're better suited to do so outside the classroom. "They don't need a teacher, they can watch YouTube channels and learn history, there are all kinds of apps and creative interactive learning opportunities for kids," she says.
"I think if given the choice between do you want to go to summer school or do you want to learn some of this stuff on your own, most kids would choose I want to be home."