Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Summer school or an increased investment in public libraries?


(from the "Schools Matter" blog)
Sent to the Washington Post, June 28, 2010.

Jay Mathews notes that that academic achievement declines for low-income students over the summer and concludes that "Summer school is a great tool, if only more students would use it" (June 28 Washington Post). The decline in reading achievement over the summer, however, is actually an argument for increased funding for public libraries, not summer school.

Some of the research reports on the summer slump, including Barbara Heyns' original study of summer learning published in 1975 and Jimmy Kim's more recent research, strongly suggest that scores go down during the summer because low-income children have less access to public libraries and other sources of books and don't do as much pleasure reading.

The implication: More funding for public libraries in low-income areas, and a more cautious approach to increasing time dedicated to traditional instruction. Too much traditional instruction could limit time for wide, self-selected voluntary reading, the single most important factor in improving reading achievement.

Stephen Krashen

Sources:
Heyns, Barbara. 1975. Summer Learning and the Effect of School. New York: Academic Press.
Kim, Jimmy. 2003. “Summer reading and the ethnic achievement gap,” Journal of Education for Students Placed at Risk 9, no. 2:169-188.
Jay Mathews: Summer school is a great tool, if only more students would use it
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/06/27/AR2010062703033_pf.html

===

What do you say, bloggers?  I personally spent many, many hours at my hometown library as a child (it was 2 blocks from my house).  I have fond memories of story hour, reading clubs and summer reading charts with gold stars.  DeKalb County has some wonderful libraries with lots of activities for children.  Would our struggling students be better off spending time in our libraries enjoying the simple love of reading for pleasure?

DCSS's website currently hosts a press release encouraging students to take part in the programs available in our libraries this summer.  Check it out!

44 comments:

Molly said...

In Dekalb, summer school is only an option for students in 3rd, 5th or 8th grade who failed either the math or reading portion of the CRCT and high school students who can only take courses online. A 2nd grade student who is reading 2 years behind grade level has no summer school option available. A 3rd grade student who manages to barely scrape a passing score in reading and fails all other subjects cannot attend. Summer school is strictly a tool for passing the critical portions of the CRCT in those grades where the law requires students to pass to be promoted. (There is also a small program available for ELL students.)

What summer school ought to be (if the district had any money to fund it)is a chance for any student in any grade who is struggling to get a chance to catch up with their peers. Students who fail any portion of the CRCT, or pass with a very low score, or who are referred by teachers should have the option available. If I were in charge of the DCSS budget, this would be a high priority - certainly above magnet transportation and graduation coaches. Maybe if we had comprehensive summer school we wouldn't need so many graduation coaches.

Dunwoody Mom said...

If I were in charge of the DCSS budget, this would be a high priority - certainly above magnet transportation and graduation coaches

Now, come on Molly, that makes too much sense. Not much common sense is used as far as DCSS decision.

Molly, have you ever given a thought to running for the BOE?

Anonymous said...

This is what happens when you build a budget the wrong way.

A budget should be built from the bottom up, paying first for all the necessities.

A discussion needs to be had about what is a necessity. Then a discussion needs to be had about if you spend the money on this, then you can't spend it on that. There was very little of that in DCSS this year.

I agree with Molly, summer school for all struggling students is important. I also think that offering high schoolers only DOLA courses is a crime. In a school system with 60 percent free and reduced lunch rates, there is absolutely no way that every student has both access to a computer and internet connections.

It would be interesting to see how the DOLA decision impacts graduation rates. Oh wait, some one would have to track that. It won't happen.

Lynn Deutsch

Cerebration said...

I've taken this to a different level on this blog before - I think that instead of summer school - we should provide summer CAMP for at-risk children. Summer camp is one of the best "growth" experiences a child can have. Why not spend $600 per child and send them to camp for a couple of weeks? Sleepaway camp. Camp where they can enjoy nature, play games like "Capture the Flag", swim, hike, sleep, sing, and yes - learn! Then, come home and provide day camps through our county parks and pools -- how about it? Wouldn't this provide for healthy, happy, well-adjusted children when it's time to return to the classroom?

Anonymous said...

What's a necessity at DCSS?
-Secret trips to the Bahamas with staffers.
-Two full tanks of gas in one day.
-Untold thousands of dollars into personal bank accounts.
-Jobs for friends and family of BOE members and upper management who are not qualified for those positions.
-$5000 desks, $2000 chairs and a $30,000 lighting system at the new Palace on Mtn. Indust. Blvd. (Have they had a meeting in the new facility yet?)
-Fewer teachers and larger classes.
-Fewer Para-pros in the classrooms.
-Fewer Assistants in the DCSS Libraries.
-Free Transportation!
-Rundown facilities that our kids use.
-Fewer choices for a good education.
-Overcrowded schools and under populated schools instead of balanced attendance district wide.
-Broken HVAC systems, Leaking roofs, an MIS Dept void in experienced computer techs.
-Bad leadership at the Central Office.
-An inept Superintendents Cabinet.
-Few resignations or firings of 6 figured employees.
-A BOE that does not govern for the taxpayer, just for themselves.
-Programs that cost millions and never get implemented.
-Free trips to Vegas under the guise of important workshops to make DCSS better.

The list could go on and on.

The only necessity we need right now is Leadership! BOE please ask for the resignations of Tyson, Moseley, Turk, Mitchell-Mayfield, Thompson, Ramsey, all Guilroys and Edwards relatives as well as other so called leaders. Until this happens we'll continue down the same path that CLew-less got us on. Why do these hired leaders still have jobs at DCSS?

Anonymous said...

The DeKalb Libraries are great! My kids have already been to see Carmen Didi, have checked out and read 10 books a piece.

The Chamblee library is a great place to spend time during a hot afternoon.

Read! I'm sure the BOE could do some reading and learning how to be good stewards of taxpayers money if they only visited a Dekalb library. Plus, they might learn how laying off Library assistants will effect the libraries in their schools.

Anonymous said...

DeKalb County has an award winning school system. Last year I asked a high ranking library system administrator if they worked closely with DCSS. He said they did not, but not for a lack of trying on the county's part. He stated that DCSS had very good librarians out in the schools, but that the DCSS Central Office was too difficult to work with. Big surprise.

This parent and taxpayer expects DCSS to work very closely with the county library system. It's the same kids attending DCSS schools and using DeKalb libraries. There should be shared programs, shared facilities, shared everything, etc. Many new schools across the country have been built with a library wing that can be opened to the public after hours with access closed to the rest of the school, with the school system and the city or county library system sharing the construction costs. Makes a whole lotta sense. Save money while serving your residents, a novel concept.

But with the DeKalb County School System, cooperation and sharing resources is not on the table. The BOE has for years tabled a memorandum of understanding with the county. Even though a large number of DCSS administrators have gome through Leadership DeKalb with county officials and staff and may be frendly, they still do not work together in a productive manner.

I don't want to sound negative, as those new to the blog may think that this blog is just a bunch of complaints. it's not. We're beaten down by the massive do nothing bloat of the DCSS Central Office. With the massive number of DCSS (unproductive) bureaucrats, nothing gets done. Of course it would benefit our students to have DCSS work hand in hand with the county library system. Anywhere else, it's a no-brainer. Anywhere other than DCSS.

Anonymous said...

Do some of you even educate yourself as to what is going on with DCSS? From the front page of the DCSS web site:

"DeKalb County Public Library Youth Services staff, DeKalb County School System and the City
Schools of Decatur’s teacher-librarians are encouraging children and teens to read over the summer by
participating in the Vacation Reading Program. Because public libraries and school media centers
share the same goal of fostering the love of books and reading, the Vacation Reading Program is a
continuum of the reading efforts of teacher-librarians and teachers.
To promote the free reading program sponsored by
DeKalb County Public Library, the library’s Youth
Services staff visited schools during the month of
May to encourage students to sign up for the
Vacation Reading Program. The Vacation
Reading Program provides a special opportunity
for children and teens to maintain or increase their
reading skills over the summer. The program is
open to children of all ages, from babies to teens."

Cerebration said...

Anon, that link is included in the last line of the original post. DCSS has a press release posted on the home page right now, highlighting the summer programs in the public libraries. (Not school libraries.)

People, please read up on the good things happening in our public libraries this summer - Our post also includes links to the county public library system's listing of summer programs.

Anonymous said...

Anon 10:51--just because DCSS puts it on their website, doesn't mean it happens. I work at a library in Dekalb, and our children's librarian begged schools to let her in to discuss the summer reading program during the last weeks of school. She only got one taker, and she spent the whole day there telling every grade level about it. As a result, most of the kids coming to our library to sign up are from that one school.

There is little coordination with DCSS, because it doesn't fit into the parameters of CRCT test prep. It should, but they don't see it.

Cerebration said...

The announcement on the home page is simply a press release for the county library system. DCSS is not providing summer library programs, the county libraries are. In fact, taxpayers voted in a bond to improve libraries several years back - hopefully, these programs are some of the fruits of that self-imposed tax!

Anonymous said...

My middle school has a media center packed with computers and wonderful learning experiences....Unfortunately, it closes at dismissal.......

Anonymous said...

To be clear: Many librarians in our schools do work with county librarians. DCSS has some very, very good librarians, as does the county.

It's at the Central Office where the coordination is lacking. What exactly does the Central Office do well and efficiently? Still trying to figure that one out.

There are many areas where coordination between the county and DCSS could and should provide better service at less expense, such as parks & recreation sharing facilities with DCSS athletics, working better with the county police dept. so we don't need a school police dept. with two directors, four admin assistants and 200 staff members. Planning and zoning is the most important area where the county and school system fail to cooperate, and much of that is the county's fault. It was very, very tense during the Vernon Jones administration, as development after development was approved without any communication with the school system, with major repurcussions for DCSS.

Florida, our next door neighbor, is way ahead of the game:
http://www.dca.state.fl.us/fdcp/dcp/SchoolPlanning/

"School Planning and Coordination"

Legislation enacted by the 2005 Florida Legislature (Chapter 2005-290, Laws of Florida) mandates a comprehensive focus on school planning by requiring local governments and school boards to adopt a school concurrency system. School concurrency ensures coordination between local governments and school boards in planning and permitting developments that affect school capacity and utilization rates. The legislation emphasizes the benefits of coordinated planning including identifying subject areas where coordination is crucial such as enrollment projections, agreeing on strategies for providing facilities and infrastructure and planning and funding future facilities that serve the growing school population in Florida.

Wow. "Coordinated Planning".

Read that again. School systems and local governements working together?! Utopia.

"The legislation emphasizes the benefits of coordinated planning including identifying subject areas where coordination is crucial such as enrollment projections, agreeing on strategies for providing facilities and infrastructure and planning and funding future facilities that serve the growing school population in Florida."

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

Redovian registered this morning.

Anonymous said...

Is it being posted in real time anywhere? (Candidate qualifying)

Anonymous said...

http://web.co.dekalb.ga.us/Voter/pdf/nonpartisan.pdf

Updated nightly, but I called for the update.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for posting this message from Stephen Krashen. If you want to learn more, I highly recommend his book, The Power of Reading. Some things to keep in mind. Dr. Krashen cites research that says the simple act of reading improves reading comprehension, fluency, reading speed, vocabulary, spelling, and the ability to write a paragraph. If you are learning a language, reading in that language will help you learn it faster.

We can all agree that children need solid reading instruction, but they also need to practice this very important skill. Summer is a great time to do this. It doesn't matter what children read. Fiction, non-fiction, graphic novels, magazines, and comic books all work. Just feed that reading bug. Make the public library part of your summer routine. This is something that every parent can do for their children.

Need a Black role model? Take some time to look at Dr. Ben Carson's story or a biography of Malcolm X. Reading changed both of their lives.

Anonymous said...

I think it is important for everyone to realize that our Public Libraries are making an effort to work with our schools. Public librarians will visit a school to help parents register for library cards. They will also come to a school to teach students how to use the public library web site. They are very willing to collaborate with school librarians on a wide variety of projects. That includes helping students with class projects. School librarians are encouraged to provide information on class research assignments that may bring a student to the public library. It is also important to keep in mind that the recent cuts in school library staffing put this type of collaboration in jeopardy.

Dunwoody Mom said...

But yet, you would not believe the number of parents who complain about the Summer reading requirements!!

Anonymous said...

Is anyone running against Zepora?

Anonymous said...

Are these people running against Zepora?

Richard Gathany
4773 Banner Elk Drive
Stone Mountain, GA 30083
Phone: 404-273-6880

Donny “Muhammad” Grogan
4317 Buckingham Circle
Decatur, GA 30035
Phone: 770-895-9389

Dunwoody Mom said...

I believe Mr. Gathany is in Zephora's district and Mr. Grogan in Eugene Walker's district.

Anonymous said...

@anon 11:52
Teacher Librarians (school librarians) are paid the same as teachers. Counselors get paid to work more hours. When there were two people working in the media centers, one person could open the media center early and the second person could close the media center later. I do not know if you are aware of this, but many of the media clerks were cut. Most of the second TLs were cut from high schools and all for middle schools. This leaves one person in the media center. Sadly, it will impact the students the most.

I love Stephen Krashen's philosophy. Unfortunately, there is such a push for Accelerated Reader and Reading Counts that limit what students read.

Cerebration said...

Click on the graphic of the voting box on the right side panel of the home page. We will try to keep it updated as to the candidates - Here's the latest --

List of Officially Registered Candidates to Date

BOARD OF EDUCATION- DISTRICT 1


BOARD OF EDUCATION – DISTRICT 3


BOARD OF EDUCATION- DISTRICT 5

Jacques Hall, Jr.
3762 Tree Bark Trail
Decatur, GA 30034
Phone: 678-988-7786

BOARD OF EDUCATION- DISTRICT 7

Richard Gathany
4773 Banner Elk Drive
Stone Mountain, GA 30083
Phone: 404-273-6880

Donny “Muhammad” Grogan
4317 Buckingham Circle
Decatur, GA 30035
Phone: 770-895-9389

Zepora W. Roberts - INCUMBENT
1616 Cobbs Creek Lane
Decatur, GA. 30032
Phone: 404- 284-7314

BOARD OF EDUCATION- DISTRICT 9

Dr. Eugene P. “Gene” Walker - INCUMBENT
P. O. Box 674
Lithonia, GA 30038
Phone: 770-593-2409

Anonymous said...

I don't think that Krashen's philosophy conflicts with Accelerated Reader or Reading Counts. His point is that more reading means better reading skill. His interpretation of the research indicates that it doesn't matter what children read, only that they read. I think that the problems we have with programs like Accelerated Reader have more to do with how we use or misuse them.

Anonymous said...

Accelerated Reader is a money pit, and hardly worth the anguish it seems to cause parents (they come running into the public library demanding to know where the AR books are kept--folks, any book can be an AR book if AR sells a test for it!). Ignore the AR lists and tests and prizes and just let them read what they like. It is the amount of reading and exposure to vocabulary that counts, not points earned.

Anonymous said...

The Ed Media Department at DCSS has ben very strong but is taking some hits from the current budgetary problems and I am not sure what the future holds. In 2001 it was named best library media program in the nation by the American Library Association.
At the end of the school year I brought in the children's librarian from our neighborhood branch and he spoke to all the students in several grade levels about the summer reading programs. Sadly the public libraries are cutting back as well and they can't do everything they've done in the past.
The Ed Media department has always been more active than many other departments at DCSS. But when things are on the chopping block anything not seen as a 'classroom' setting is the first to go. The future for school libraries is very dim in some other states.

Anonymous said...

Nancy Jester (District 1) has a website (very good one) and a FC page and has filed a declaration of intent yet she has not qualified. Does anyone know why?

Corey Wilson (District 3) has a FC page and has also filed a declaration of intent yet he has also not qualified. Does anyone know why?

Reading their bios and declarations they sound like great candidates.

Anonymous said...

Francis Edwards will qualify at the 11th hour of Friday to regain the 5th District and she # will Win# because of the damage done to Cunningham. Women will vote for her because " mothers are supposed to support their children in the Black Culture". She is smooth, articulate and connected.Also expect some Edukalb "MEMBERS" to post....and the "FIGHT BEGINS".

Anonymous said...

Across the country, there are school systems cutting media specialists totally and shuttering school libraries.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/06/24/school-libraries-axed-lib_n_623754.html


http://www.ala.org/ala/alonline/currentnews/newsarchive/2009/march2009/califpinkslips.cfm

At the end of the day, I am unclear if the state money for media center supplies was cut. I believe it was.

Anonymous said...

Anon 9:24 p.m. I completely disagree. Accelerated Reader is worth every penny we spend on it. Trying to get elementary school boys to read is very difficult. My son hated reading (in part because there are not enough books that interest him- he hates fantasy and science fiction). But make it a competition where you score points (like a sport) and he read every day.

Dunwoody Mom said...

My kids loved the AR program when they were in ES. I applaud any program that gets children to read. The children were also recognized for their participation in AR at the Awards ceremony at the end of the school year. In some cases, this was the only recognition some children received. I have no problem spending money on this program.

Anonymous said...

Dunwoody Mom said...
I believe Mr. Gathany is in Zephora's district and Mr. Grogan in Eugene Walker's district.
June 29, 2010 1:56 PM

IF THIS IS TRUE, THEN ALL INCUMBENTS HAVE COMPETITION! YES!!

Cerebration, IF IT'S TRUE, MR. GROGAN NEEDS TO BE LISTED IN THE RIGHT DISTRICT ON THE BLOG'S CANDIDATE PAGE.

Anonymous said...

Corey Wilson (District 3) has a FC page and has also filed a declaration of intent yet he has also not qualified. Does anyone know why?

Mr. Wilson, ARE YOU RUNNING? WE NEED YOU!

Dunwoody Mom said...

I used Mr. Grogan's address to determine his school district and he ended up with Mr. Walker's, but according to the DeKalb County Website, it is Zephora's district:

http://web.co.dekalb.ga.us/Voter/pdf/nonpartisan.pdf

Cerebration said...

I got the list above directly from the DeKalb Voter website -

Here's the link:
http://web.co.dekalb.ga.us/Voter/pdf/nonpartisan.pdf

They have updated the list again and have added Nancy and Jim - so far - no one in District 3 at all!

Nancy Jester
2718 Eaton Place
Atlanta, GA 30341
Phone: 770-455-1546

James M.Redovian - INCUMBENT
1789 Corners Court
Dunwoody, GA. 30338
Phone: (B) 770-248-9790 (H) 770-394-2125

Reminder - I will try to keep the candidate page updated with this info - access it by clicking the Vote Box on the right side panel of the home page.

Cerebration said...

So far, it looks like Jay and Sarah have not yet qualified either. Dare we hope?

Dunwoody Mom said...

I don't think our students we'll be that lucky Cere. But, we can always hope.

But, I would also caution that all of the new candidates need to be properly vetted - we certainly do not need BOE reps that are not an improvement over what we have - there is too much at stake here.

Anonymous said...

I've worked with AR for about 15 years. I like AR because it gets children to read who might not ordinarily be reading. I tell teachers that AR is really an evaluation tool. They can use it to monitor student reading activity. What does a child read, how much, and at what reading level? What do the scores say about how well a child comprehends what he is reading? Does a child need to read something more challenging or is she at the point of frustration?

AR gives us an opportunity to set realistic reading goals for children and to recognize students for reading. AR reading requirements can be balanced with non AR reading. I am not a big fan of prize stores and contests, but handing out certificates on awards day is really wonderful. Children who are reading well below grade level will benefit the most from this program.

Dunwoody Mom said...

FYI, here is a similar blog to ours in NYC....It seems the same education issues are the same everywhere.

http://nycpublicschoolparents.blogspot.com/

Anonymous said...

Walker is an at large board member, his district overlaps others. He is unopposed. ZR has two opponents.

However, as others have said, in DeKalb things can quickly go from bad to worse. (Actually this is true everywhere.) Simple googles are not turning much up about most of these folks.

Anonymous said...

I would love to see more input and support of public libraries. Summer school is allowed for children who failed one or two parts of the CRCT.
As far as AR books, I believe that they arewonderful for ES. In my child's MS AR wasa grade in class, and we could read ONLY books listed on AR. So if a new book came out and he read it, if there was no test for it, he received a zero for the week. It seems like we would want to encourage children to read regardless if a test was involved. We attempted to come to some agreement with the teacher to allow a book report, a prject on the book,etc- no dice- only books to be read were AR that had a test. Do we ever get away from testing our children??