Earlier this week, President Obama appeared on NBC's The Today Show and talked about education. Since I'm an education reporter, my ears perked up. Because I'm a parent, I always listen when another parent talks about their incidents. President Obama said his adorable little girls would seize an opportunity to waste their summers away in front of the television if they had half a chance. I was crushed. All this time, I thought my sons possessed those fallacies because they were males. I secretly dreamed of the day when I would have little, cherub granddaughters who would sit, prim and proper, without slouching and diagram sentences all summer just for the fun of it.
Evidently, the President had the same visions, because his proposal for reform included extending the school year through the summer. I laughed.
Evidently President Obama did not pay attention last time he was in Georgia and school officials across the state were cutting back their system's instructional year by as many as 10 days in order to meet budget.
There are other options. The American Camp Association suggests organized summer camp as one component in the development and education of children. In Thomson, daycares and the Family Y have done a wonderful job with this task. Their day camps not only provide childcare while parents are at work, but they offer many educational activities and field trips. I think many of them were even funded this year by federal grants.
The Watson-Brown Foundation offered weekly camps at a minimal cost that were fun, educational and enriching. The local library offers a free summer reading program with bi-weekly activities. Of course, churches offered Vacation Bible Schools. These programs may not follow school curriculum, but they all stimulate thinking and broaden children's horizons in a way that develops the whole child. And they place no further burden on an already-strapped federal, state, or local budget.
The president mentioned holding teachers accountable. Isn't that what No Child Left Behind, Annual Yearly Progress and End of Course testing already does? How will they be held accountable -- through even more testing? What about holding parents accountable? Teachers already are doing all they can. But when students do not show up for class, are late for class, have not done their homework, or are falling asleep in class because they stayed up half the night, how can a teacher get through to them?
I agree that American students are falling behind. And I applaud him for addressing the issue. But this gal is getting weary of adding new steps to the same old song and dance. I keep getting them confused. Maybe I need to attend summer school.