Sunday, July 25, 2021

Zion Graham in Greensboro, North Carolina

The kid's plugging away in summer school with the hopes of beating the zombifcation of learning. 

At NYT, "In Mrs. McQueen’s Summer Classroom, an 8-Year-Old Races to Catch Up":

GREENSBORO, N.C. — In second grade, Zion Graham bounded to school. He loved math. His favorite book was about a slow turtle who took all day to get dressed.

Then came the pandemic, and months of joyless remote learning. Zion lost confidence in reading. His performance in third grade plummeted.

Zion, now 8, is spending his summer racing to catch up, back at Hunter Elementary School in Greensboro, N.C. When Zion and his schoolmates arrive by 7:45 a.m. each morning, they face a challenge — and a deadline. How much can they learn before fourth grade starts, to avoid falling even further behind?

Around the country, children are attending summer school like never before, as the United States pushes billions of dollars into education to help children recover from the pandemic. The Biden administration has identified summer learning as one key strategy, allocating at least $1.2 billion in federal stimulus money for it. From San Diego to New York City to Miami, hundreds of thousands of children are attending programs this year, some for the first time. In Guilford County, N.C., the school district that includes Greensboro, summer school enrollment has skyrocketed to 12,000, from 1,200 two years ago.

Yet summer school, by its very nature, is short, and the pandemic’s impact on students is expected to stretch months, even years. “You have kids who have the potential to catch up relatively easy — I mean, before Christmas,” said Tonette McQueen, Zion’s summer teacher. “Then you have some kids who will experience some growth, but will be behind for years to come.”

Though the pandemic hurt almost all students, creating learning gaps for some, and deepening existing gaps for others, research suggests that the students who suffered the most are like those in Mrs. McQueen’s classroom — students of color, low-income students, English language learners and other historically marginalized groups. Hunter Elementary is almost 90 percent Hispanic and Black, and nearly all students qualify for free or reduced lunch.

“It has definitely widened the gap for poor kids and kids of color,” said Tomeka Davis, a sociologist at Georgia State University who studies education, with an emphasis on race and class...

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