Author Defends Summer Vacation


Eric J. Segall writes at Salon (9/3, Segall) against school reformers’ efforts to shorten or eliminate summer vacation because of concerns about the “summer slide.” Segall argues that “summer vacation is embedded in our culture, and that is not necessarily a bad thing.” He describes the history of summer vacation, noting that it is not agrarian in its basis as farming children would need breaks in the spring for planting and in the fall for harvest rather than all summer. Instead summer vacation was a creation for “middle- and upper-class families” who “wanted to get out of the hot, crowded cities (and classrooms) during the summer months.” He faults Education Secretary Arne Duncan for perpetuating the myth of the agrarian origins of summer vacation, as well as the “argument that the American ‘school day, week, and year’ are too short.” He argues for a particular vision of summer vacation that is “filled with organized activities.”