Summer break isn’t what it used to be.
On my summer break, “enrichment” was a trip to Mineral Beach, a public pool about 30 minutes away, where the concrete always seemed to be flaking off and the snack bar offered the kind of eats that only taste good eaten on an old picnic table in the baking sun.
While there is plenty of time for trips to the Cecil Hunter or Roger Scott pools or a baseball game or a free summer concert in a park, our children are going to have to do more than veg out on their break.
As standards rise, we expect more of our children academically than we probably ever have. And at a younger age.
I can't say that as a parent, I'm all that happy about this development.
But this is the State of Education today.
Which means they can’t afford to let a whole summer go by without cracking a book or attending some kind of structured activity. Summer learning loss is a real thing, one that teachers note every August.
That’s why programs like the Flight Academy and the MESS Hall are important.
Just as the UWF summer camps that offer students things such as marine science camp and “Mythbusters”-styled weeklong sessions. And the Pensacola State College Kid’s College. And the Imagination Station at the Community Maritime Park, a free early education resource.
And the junior ranger camps sponsored by the Gulf Islands National Seashore.
Particularly those camps that focus on science and math-related skills.
The world is increasingly governed by numbers. Numeric and scientific literacy are critical components in building a workforce that has traditionally lagged in educational attainment.
As Escambia has, where only 64 percent of our students graduate from high school.
Building resources in the community that not only embrace the importance of thinking harder, Homer, but also help make that fun and accessible to people of all ages to do so makes Pensacola more marketable and more attractive to businesses.
They make Pensacola more fun. And smarter, too.
The kind of industries we want to attract -- those based on intellectual capital, that bear a higher wage and demand a better educated workforce -- are built on a skilled workforce.
Back in 2006, 31 percent of Escambia’s fifth-graders scored proficient in science. The figure was 55 percent in Santa Rosa.
But the data is trending up. Last year, 59 percent of Escambia fifth-graders and 62 percent of Santa Rosa fifth-graders earned the passing mark in science on the FCAT.
When the FCAT was revamped for 2011 year, 49 percent of Escambia’s third-graders were proficient in math.
Based on the elementary school scores released in late May for 2014, 49 percent of our county’s third-grades are proficient in math.
In four testing years, the needle hasn’t moved that much. But we need it to.
We need all the summer camps and after-school programs that make numbers less threatening and understandable that we can find.
We need a community that embraces this like the Flight Academy and the MESS Hall, because giving those things prominence shows that we value them.
That we thinking that learning matters -- not just during the school year, but all year long.