Bill and Melinda Gates have demonstrated their commitment to education in America by investing billions of dollars of their own money to programs and initiatives that seek to close the massive achievement gap that separates our most vulnerable students from their more affluent peers.
But these endeavors are fated to fall short because they have, for the most part, overlooked the single most important element of any truly ambitious effort to increase achievement in America: summer learning.
The largest and arguably most innovative foundation in the country, with assets of nearly $37 billion and education as a top priority, does little to fund summer programs or nurture the systems that support high quality summer learning opportunities.
Decades of research demonstrate that summer learning loss constitutes the most significant, if largely unrecognized, threat to academic achievement. It is only during the summer months that tens of millions of American children go backwards academically, causing the achievement gap between rich and poor to increase dramatically.