Year-long schooling is on the horizon

The outside of the School District of Philadelphia building on Broad St.
The outside of the School District of Philadelphia building on Broad St.
Quinton Johnson

Summer slide has become a constant challenge in Philadelphia schools, where students forget the material they learn over the summer, leading to a massive disparity in their learning throughout the years, leading to ‘gaps.’ According to scholars at the University of Missouri, lower-class families in particular have a drop in academic skills over the summer months due to decreased access to academic programs.

As these issues persist with summer slide and education, Cherlle Parker, Philadelphia’s current mayor, and school teacher, created the Parker Plan for Education to address these issues. Her main goal behind the plan was to decrease violence, affordable housing, and economic stability, provide before and after academic programs, and combat the summer slide. A lot of parents are often way too busy themselves to constantly sign their children up for before and after school programs.

Among her plans to reach these goals by opening schools around 7:30 AM to 6 PM, and partnering high schools with several different institutions to provide job training, she also highlights year-round schooling. 

 Parker’s idea for year-long schooling for Philadelphia public schools is that they will take away the long summer break, but allow breaks and holidays throughout the year. The main plan is to keep children academically active by extending the hours and days they stay in school as much as possible, one of them being programs and activities implemented inside of them.

Currently, programs meant to extend the school day will start in September, during the school year of 2025 to 2026, having after-school activities, one of them called the Summer Achievers program.

The program features ELA, art, math, music, sports, and social learning, during the afternoons, and Fridays dedicated to trips and camp-like activities. 20 unspecified schools will enact the year-round schedule from 2025 to 2026. There is no statement on whether it will be mandatory or not for students to enroll in these programs.

Teachers have an optional opportunity to participate in these activities. Surprisingly, Philadelphia teachers were not informed of these proposals, according to Jerry Jordan, president of the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers, after Parker made this a significant part of her campaign. Teachers weren’t aware of how this would change their schedules, possibly impacting their time with their families, and decreasing their time with their children who have their school schedules.

The main issues with this year-long plan are the costliness of it throughout the year, selection bias, and the ever-going teacher flight that’s been happening throughout Philadelphia.

Not all schools have the privilege of functioning and yearly present air conditioning during the hotter months, a prevalent issue covered back in 2023, FLC not allowed a half day despite the extreme heat and lack of air conditioning. School buildings will require a lot of funding to stay open throughout the year, and even with donations like Jalen Hurts, an Eagles quarterback, donating to 10 different schools for air conditioning, there’s still plenty of planning to be done with air conditioning. Those ten schools may have gotten air conditioning, but it did not make up for the other 200 of other schools in the district. There will be a selected bunch of well-funded schools that opted for the year-long program, as opposed to the underfunded ones who lack the prestige and recognition. Along with this, Philadelphia teachers have been leaving in high droves, over 1 in 3 Philadelphia teachers in the district or charter, left their profession in the 2021 to 2022 school year. There’s been a significant amount of shortages in teachers, impacting the financial cost of districts, negative student outcomes, and an increase in underqualified teachers.

All details pertaining to the cost, what schools will be attending, and how the plan on how the summer details will function are still being tweaked currently, and as Sharon Ward puts it, a deputy chief education officer,

 “We’re working on it. We’re not starting from scratch.”

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Quinton Johnson, Layout Editor
Quinton Johnson is a Layout editor for The Flash, responsible for designing the publication of the newspaper. A sophomore art major in FLC, she also has an interest in digital drawing and layout design. This is her second year in the Flash, though the first time she's been able to participate in the first issue of the year.
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