For some children, summer vacation means camp, family trips, visits to museums, parks and libraries and a variety of enriching activities. But other children find that when schools close for the summer, healthy meals, medical care and fun and engaging activities are out of reach, as are activities that strengthen academic achievement and provide opportunities to explore new interests. At Operation Shoestring, we are providing those summer activities. The phenomenon of summer undoing school-year learning has come to be known as “summer learning loss.” The Afterschool Alliance notes that this was first commented on in 1906 followed some decades later by the 1978 book Summer Learning and the Effects of Schooling, by Barbara Heyns, which was based on her study of Atlanta students. More recently, a number of researchers have found that nearly all the differences in achievement between poor and middleclass children can be attributed to changes in learning that take place over the summer. This finding is particularly surprising—and important—given that the vast majority of public and philanthropic resources are dedicated to school-year education, and that relatively scant resources are earmarked for summer programs.Quality summer experiences give children access and exposure to the opportunities and relationships within their communities that promote learning and development. In fact, summer programs have the potential to close the test-score gaps that plague Mississippi. At Operation Shoestring this summer, we will provide fun and academic enriching camps here on Bailey Avenue and at several schools in the Lanier feeder pattern. We know that these efforts will help the students we serve close the gap between where they are and where they need to be.
The Ellen Harris Center, 1711 Bailey Avenue / PO Box 11223, Jackson, MS 39283-1223 / 601.353.6336