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[Susan notes: It is especially disheartening that the Rochester, N.Y., superintendent of schools would join up with the recently retired president and CEO of the Rochester Business Alliance to misstate the cause of the jobs crisis, a crisis that certainly won't be solved by requiring kids to go to summer school. In his previous Ed Week commentary, superintendent Vargas teamed up with Jean-Claude Brizard, Rochester schools chief before his brief sojourn with the Chicago schools.]

Submitted to Education Week but not published

To the editor

Bolgen Vargas & Sandra A. Parker ( Lessons From a Longer School Day (and Year), July 7) argue that a longer school day will better prepare students for high tech jobs and prevent summer loss.

Summer loss is mostly concentrated in students living in poverty. Studies going back to 1975 consistently show that the major cause of summer loss in literacy among students living in poverty is a lack of access to reading material.

The most obvious solution is to invest in public libraries filled with books and other kinds of material that students will read, as well as librarians who will help young readers find what is right for them.

We are living in a golden age of literature for young people. Let's take advantage of it.


Poverty and access to books: Neuman, S. and Celino, D. 2001. Access to print in low-income and middle-income communities. Reading Research Quarterly 36(1): 8-26.

Summer loss and poverty, more reading and gains:

Allington, R. and McGill-Franzen, A. 2012. Summer Reading: Closing the Rich/Poor Reading Achievement Gap. New York: Teachers College Press.

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.

Shin, Fay. and Krashen, Stephen. 2007. Summer Reading: Program and Evidence. New York: Allyn and Bacon. (Available for free download at www.sdkrashen.com).

Stephen Krashen, USC Professor Emeritus

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