November 13, 2016
Honorable President Elect Donald J Trump
Secretary of Education (Nominee) Ms. Betsy DeVos
As the next President of the US you will bear the most direct responsibility to improve the life of the citizens in our country. My name is Farooq Ansari, and I am the President of Solving the Summer Learning Gap Club at Sage Hill School in Newport Beach. Today, on behalf of our club, I will present to you the most important problem that is impacting the K-12 education system in our country. The problem is NOT the money that is spent or the class size. It's “The Summer Learning Lag” or “The Summer Slide”. Summer learning lag refers to the loss of learning that takes place in underprivileged families and the long-term impact of summer on their children. If you can solve this problem, you will indeed fulfill your promise to change the destiny of inner city kids and the millions of students that come from disadvantaged background.
The inspiration for founding this club came from reading the works of Malcolm Gladwell. He is one of the most influential and powerful thinkers, journalists and thought leaders on a variety of issues, including education. In his books, he emphasizes the academic achievement gap between children of low socioeconomic backgrounds and their peers from wealthier families. Through various research endeavors and analysis of scientific studies, researchers have concluded that there is a definite link between this achievement gap and what happens during the summer.
So, what exactly is the summer learning gap? This term refers to how children from low socioeconomic backgrounds fall behind academically during the summer, while their middle- and upper-class peers continue to advance during the vacation. In fact, summer learning loss accounts for 2/3 of the achievement gap by ninth grade.
Studies reveal that children from both wealthy and poor families progress at the same rate academically during the school year, but the main discrepancy in performance occurs during the summer. In fact, the child from a wealthier family gains at least 2 months in math and reading during the summer, while the student with fewer resources loses about 1 month. By the time both these students reach 5th grade, the gap has stretched to 2 to 3 years, and it continues to widen into high school; essentially, the summer learning gap traps poorer children in an everlasting cycle of academic underperformance, and they can never regain that lost ground.
As leaders of our country, you have the most power to bring about change. You have the ability to influence and implement policy measures that will close this gap. We at SSLG request you to consider the following ideas:
· Instruct your Department of Education to develop policies to reduce summer learning lag
· Provide financial assistance to children from underprivileged families to enroll in academic summer programs
· Advocate school districts to develop and implement academic summer programs for underprivileged children
· Encourage institutions and the private sector to develop and deliver quality summer educational programs to underprivileged children
We would also like to request a meeting with you or your staff to present the research data about this critical problem and discuss ideas on how to close this gap. You can contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or on my cell at 949-293-6464.
Thank you for your consideration and "Let's Make America Great Again".
Members of Solving the Summer Learning Gap Club
Farooq Ansari (President)
This is the letter that Farooq Ansari and the members of SSLG drafted and sent to the incoming Trump administration and his selected secretary of education, Ms. Betsy DeVos, via the Donald Trump website. This letter provides information about the summer learning loss and advocates President Trump and Ms. DeVos to reduce the summer learning gap through the development and implementation of quality summer programs for children from low socioeconomic backgrounds.