Eek! Kids are Getting Fat and Dumb!

We must take away summer vacation because it’s making kids stupid and obese!

That’s the battle cry from Peter Orszag, who decrees in this article that:

Kids lose some of what they learned during the school year over the summer.

Kids get bigger over the summer.

Therefore, summer vacation is bad.

His recommendations?

Make the school year longer (a euphemism for getting rid of summer vacation).

Put low-income kids into six-week long summer school sessions.

Put low-income kids into summer reading programs.

At the end of the article, he suggests that one or more of his solutions be implemented via an act of Congress. Sigh.

This is so silly. America’s public schools are graduating increasing numbers of kids who can’t read or do math; when something isn’t working, why on earth would we want MORE of it?

As for kids getting bigger, it’s true that some parents let their kids sit inside and watch movies, play videogames and text their friends instead of sending them out to play for fresh air and exercise. A bad idea, for sure, but it’s not up to the government to take over those kids’ lives. Besides, there’s another reason some kids get larger over the summer. Remember when you were a kid starting back to school after summer vacation and you noticed that some of your classmates had grown noticeably bigger and taller? They’d had a growth spurt. That’s what kids do (unless they’re sickly); they grow. One has to wonder, do these do-gooders like Orszag even have kids?

Remarks coming from Orszag and his ilk these days aren’t really about kids’ well-being anyways; it’s about control, government control of our children. We need to shoot down their arguments, including their assumption that kids learn more during the school year and lose at least a third of what they learned over the summer.

Kids don’t lose what they’ve learned unless it was something they were forced to learn that they merely memorized and forgot once it was no longer needed (i.e. school). Here’s how we know this:

How many kids forget how to ride a bike?

How many kids forget the lyrics to their favorite songs?

How many kids forget how to play their favorite video games?

We learn what we’re interested in, what’s useful to us and what we find irresistible. Public education rarely offers such things to kids, Increasingly, today’s kids are faced with more indoctrination than instruction; the instruction they do get is apparently not working for a lot of kids. Masking these issues by blaming summer vacation is a cop-out

If the do-gooders really wanted to know what works for kids, they’d study homeschoolers. The success of homeschooling is well-documented. Homeschooling parents will tell them that their kids are learning all the time, even during summer vacation. And when homeschooled kids do forget something they learned (usually something their parents expected them to study, as opposed to something they wanted to learn), they pick it up again pretty quickly when they go back to their studies. But as long as they’re getting plenty of time and opportunity to learn at their own pace and to pursue their own interests in addition to the studies their parents require of them, they don’t lose much of what they’ve learned. (I know this from observing my own homeschooled four.)

But the do-gooders will never study homeschooling. Why? Because most homeschooling parents’ goals for their children are about learning, not control. And these days, sadly, our government seems primarily bent on control.


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