Across the nation, cash-strapped school districts are cutting summer school classes. In the San Jose area, students are turning to community colleges for summer classes — and being turned away. From the San Jose Mercury News:
Vanessajoie Castillo had been hoping to get ahead in the race for college by taking precalculus and trigonometry courses this summer at Evergreen Valley College in San Jose. But when the James Lick High School student arrived last week to register, she found the classroom packed — and the waiting list already closed.
Her own school district, San Jose’s East Side Union, canceled most summer school for lack of money.
Neighboring San Jose Unified is referring would-be summer students to online courses, offered by third parties such as K12.com, Brigham Young University and the Fresno County Office of Education. Costs range from $150 to $350 per online semester course.
High school students are converging on community colleges that also are facing their own budget squeeze. West Valley College in Saratoga had to cut summer classes by 40 percent.
“It’s like a perfect storm,” President Lori Gaskin said.
Combine returning veterans, the newly unemployed, students squeezed out of the state’s public universities, plus the largest graduating high school class in California history, and campuses end up with waiting lists in the thousands.
In New Jersey, Bergen Community College will run summer school for high school students on contract to school districts that can’t afford to offer free programs. Students will pay for remedial classes, reports NorthJersey.com.
A new kind of summer school — one that stresses learning and enrichment rather than remediation — would help close the achievement gap, writes Ron Fairchild of the National Summer Learning Association in The Hechinger Report:
Classroom walls are torn down and replaced by parks, radio production studios, or stages at local theaters. Activities are designed to connect with school curricula while also being fun and engaging. Instructors are well-trained and programs are tailored to meet students’ academic needs, particularly at key transitional points to middle school and high school. In many cases built-in incentives – such as transportation and meals – are provided to encourage attendance. Most importantly, students attend these programs not because they have to, but because they want to.
But solutions must be “cost-neutral or cost-effective,” Fairchild writes.