It’s downtime for students across the nation. But some of them won’t be headed to the beach. Instead, they’re showing up each morning for classes, ready to learn.
The Star Tribune reports that a rising number of students have enrolled in courses offered by school districts and organizations around the Minneapolis, St. Paul area.
Jenny Collins, executive director of Beacons Network, works to make programs available for youth in low-income communities. She explained the growing interest in summer programs to the newspaper:
“Communities are really now starting to recognize summer is a problem that we have to deal with, and it’s also a great opportunity.”
The problem she refers to has been dubbed the “summer slide,” the loss of academic gains during a summer break filled with fun and games.
The National Summer Learning Association blamed the summer slide for contributing to as much as a three-year academic gap between low-income students and their more affluent peers, The Tribune reports.
Two University of Texas associate professors co-authored an article in The Conversation that discusses how the summer slide affects many Black students.
Anthony L. Brown, who teaches curriculum and instruction, and cultural studies in education professor Keffrelyn Brown wrote from a personal perspective, as parents of a preschooler and an elementary school child.
“We feel the weight of summer – both for its limitations and its possibilities,” they stated. “To us, the summer is less a time to focus solely on fun and more of what we call the “summer soar.”
To help their kids “soar” instead of “slide” during the summer break, Black parents should set three goals: reinforce what their child learned during the previous school year, get a head start for the upcoming year, and supplement what their school failed to teach about racial and cultural identity.
According to the professors, traditional school curriculum typically gives Black students a “mis-education,” a term made popular by historian Carter G. Woodson.
They explained that mis-education is “a process where school knowledge helps to foster a sense of contempt or disregard for one’s own histories and experiences, regardless of the level of education attained.”
So, Black parents should spend the summer doing things like introducing their children to Black authors and teaching them about ancient African civilizations, along with improving their reading, writing, and math skills.