Entries by Ezra Denney

Summer Learning – A Smart Investment for California School Districts

Throughout California, school district leaders are using their newfound flexibility under LCFF to put summer to work in ways that serve equity goals. Their summer learning programs take many shapes and involve creative partnerships customized to meet local needs and circumstances.

The most promising programs offer powerful and enriching experiences to young people who need those experiences most. They blend learning and laughing, academics and engagement, purposefulness and plain
old fun. They require planning, resources, and creativity. And they work.

Summer Field Trip Inspires Middle School Student

With many students losing two to three months of progress in reading and math skills over summer, it’s necessary to offer stimulating outings that are fun and academic. Discovery Cube provided the opportunity for Elizabeth to expand her knowledge of science in a cool environment with other likeminded students. She was better equipped to begin the 2017 school year and has the inspiration to pursue her dream of becoming a surgeon.

Effective Summer Learning Programs: Case Studies

There’s no doubt that budget cuts have had a tremendous impact on the availability of summer learning programs throughout California. But with a little creativity and a lot of dedication, some communities have managed to overcome the obstacles and create effective programs that are engaging students, expanding in size and scope, and demonstrating positive outcomes.

Diving Into Summer Learning Programs

Summer learning programs are distinctively different from traditional summer school programs. For Nazaneen Khalilnaji-Otto, the Summer Matters campaign director at the Partnership for Children and Youth, one word sums up the difference between the summer learning model and summer school: “fun.” Summer learning takes on a “camp-like culture,” and these programs are generally open to all students, rather than only students seeking remedial or advanced coursework.

A summer rich in history for students who looked, listened and questioned

Making History’s goal, said Rachel Reinhard, the executive director of the Berkeley history project, is to help teachers explore local history “as an entry point to understand national and international trends” while giving students “new eyes for looking at the communities they live in.” She said for students from low-income East Oakland, a jumping off point for discussion might be the Oakland Community School, a free school, cherished by the neighborhood, that the Black Panther Party started on a church property at the height of its influence in the mid-1970s.

Summer and after-school programs—big in California—fight to survive under Trump

Currently, over 400 programs operating across the state receive about $130 million annually from Washington. But as Trump seeks to shrink the federal government’s role in education, he’s trying to claw back that funding, arguing that the programs don’t actually boost student achievement like they’re supposed to.

Last Chance to Nominate a Summer Superhero

Do you know a Superintendent who has demonstrated extraordinary support for summer learning programs during the time between September 2016-September 2017? Can you help us find and celebrate this superhero? Summer Matters is looking for nominations for our Superhero award, given each year to California Superintendents who make summer learning matter in their districts.

CDE After School Video

Proposed Federal budget cuts threaten after school and summer programs in California. State Superintendent Tom Torlakson has forcefully opposed the budget cuts, and spoken out about the benefits of summer and after school programs. Recently, he visited a summer learning program at Robla Elementary School near Sacramento, to see the impact the program has on the local community, and highlight the importance of summer learning for California students.