This November, Learning Is on the Ballot

When voters go to the polls next month, it's critical to know what's really at stake for our children's education.

Across the country, and here in California, if statewide and local school funding measures do not pass, it will result in shorter school years, longer summers, and even greater obstacles to learning for students.

A shorter school year, and longer summer, means that more students will struggle academically and teachers will be forced to spend more time on catch-up and remedial 911 once the new school year begins. Decades of research tells us that children excluded from meaningful summer learning opportunities experience "summer learning loss" -- the loss of critical academic skills and knowledge that sets students back when summer ends and the new school year begins.

Without access to summer camps, vacations, and private summer enrichment programs, children from low-income families are disproportionately at risk for summer learning loss. In addition, we know that students without summer learning opportunities are less likely to be physically active and eat well, increasing the conditions contributing to America's childhood obesity epidemic. A shorter school year isn't just about fewer days in class; it's also about what happens, or doesn't happen, for kids over a longer summer. The result will be more barriers to students' mental and physical development.

Fortunately, high quality summer learning programs have been proven to combat summer learning loss and improve students' health. Summer learning programs are a vital complement to the regular school year, and we need adequate resources for both in order to effectively educate all children.

So when you go to the polls this November, keep in mind what's at stake for our schools and communities. The school year matters, summer matters, and so does your vote. Of course simply protecting what we've got is not enough, but it's a critical step to rebuilding the educational system all our students deserve. Join me and vote "yes" on investing in our schools.