Superintendent Arlene Ackerman introduced a new reform called Summer Learning and More (SLAM) this summer. In the SLAM Program students in underachieving schools are automatically enrolled in their home school for the month of July, regardless of their current academic performance.
Kudos to Arlene Ackerman, I think summer enrichment is something our students are definitely in need of, especially the younger K-8 students (I think getting a job could be a more valuable learning experience for some of our older students however). That said, this is a great alternative for many kids who spend their summers on the sweltering streets of Philadelphia. This is a great opportunity if kids are underperforming or parents just want to give their kids something constructive to do during the summer.
SLAM for educators: Currently, the staff members of SLAM schools have the option of working at their school’s summer program. In future Renaissance schools I believe summer work will be mandatory for teaching staff. As a teacher who loves kids I personally want to spend my summers recuperating and reenergizing for the next school year, but SLAM can be a good situation for educators who want to make an extra buck, as long as the compensation is fair. From a teacher’s perspective, as long as the process remains voluntary it is also a benefit for teachers. Hopefully next year the district will have a better system in place to ensure that teacher-student ratios are right. Otherwise we could have a waste of taxpayer money. This year teachers were guaranteed a position before the district had any clue about enrollment. Having schools full of teachers with few students is foolish.
While I believe the district has many other issues they need to address before real progress can be made, SLAM is one of the few good ideas being implemented by the current administration, as long as it can be run efficiently. Hopefully the funding will remain in the future, which is no guarantee.
Please check out my next blog, in it I want to discuss an issue the district can’t continue to ignore if it wants to bring about significant improvements in Philly education.
What are your thoughts about SLAM?