To the Editor:
Many studies have shown that the long summer vacation period causes many students, especially low-income and minority students, to fall behind in reading and math. Groups, like the Rhode Island After School Plus Alliance and the Providence After School Alliance, are providing stimulating educational experiences to these needy students. However, making sure that all affected students have an opportunity to take part in these educational experiences is difficult.
To overcome this difficulty, I propose that each school system in Rhode Island form partnerships with local YMCAs, Boys & Girls Clubs, Parks & Recreation Departments, RIC, URI and CCRI to offer classes in music, art and physical education for a three-week period during the summer months. Elementary school students would be serviced by neighborhood parks and recreation departments, middle school students by local Y's and Boys & Girls Clubs and high school students by RIC, CCRI and URI.
Every student would be required to take these classes. However, this would not be your usual summer school. These students would be taking part in wholesome, stimulating, educational, fun activities while being under the supervision of competent adults and while having many opportunities to observe positive role models.
Because these classes would take place during vacation periods, parents and community leaders would also have many opportunities to take an active part in these educational activities. In addition, the Rhode Island After School Plus Alliance and the Providence After School Alliance would have access to every student in each school system that need their services.
Funding to implement this summer session could come from the $75 million Race to the Top grant that Rhode Island recently received for the United States Department of Education.