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Need for Education Doesn't End When Summer Vacation Starts

Oakland Tribune (CA)

State Superintendent of Schools Tom Torlakson visited the Bay Area to deliver a message last week. Yes, schools need more money, but that's not why he was at the microphone on this occasion. He was telling anyone willing to listen that when the last bell of the school year rings, it shouldn't mark the end of students' education. Field trips with the family, summer camps, visits to libraries and museums all serve to keep a child's mind engaged. Trouble is, far too many kids in lower-income families often are without access to such activities. The net result, he explained, is a phenomenon called "summer learning loss." It seems the brain atrophies the same way athletes' muscles do if allowed to go three months without exercise. Hence, the "Summer Matters" program that Torlakson unveiled with the assistance of Jennifer Peck, executive director of the nonprofit Partnership for Children and Youth advocacy group.

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"You may have tangible wealth untold. Caskets of jewels and coffers of gold. Richer than I you can never be — I had a mother who read to me." — Strickland Gillilan