By Ana Martinez-Ortiz
Summer vacation is often associated with fun, but for some students, it can be a time of concern, especially in Milwaukee. Although Milwaukee’s potential is finally being recognized there are still sections where it lags and education is one of them. In fact, Milwaukee is practically known for its achievement gap.
To counter the gap’s growth, several years ago, Milwaukee and Wisconsin officials created Hot Summer MKE or hotsummermke.com. The project’s objective is to offer parents an easy way to access and assess all the possible summer educational programs their child can participate in.
Although it has been in existence for the past few years, several key figures took to the floor today to encourage parents to check out the website. Among those was State Superintendent Dr. Tony Evers.
“I’m very happy to be here,” Evers said, “and happy to kick off our third year.”
He explained that in a city like Milwaukee, time is of the essence and that students should use this time to help them. In other words, students who struggle in certain subjects can take advantage of the summer break to focus on them and hopefully improve themselves in that particular class.
One option may be summer school or MPS’ Educational Wraparound program, but other options could be interactive camps or activities at the YMCA.
Evers also added that when progress is made on an educational level it can help with the growth on a legislative level. For example, Milwaukee Public Schools (MPS) saw an 11% increase in summer school enrollment last year. They also saw a 28% increase in their high school enrollment.
These numbers, while impressive on their own, become more impactful by the changes they invoked regarding policies and the budget.
According to Evers, independent charter schools were included in the summer school program and they could streamline summer payments for choice schools. Additionally, transportation reimbursements were increased and MPS received a $1.4 million grant for summer programs.
This all happened in large part thanks to the summer educational programs.
Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele also took the opportunity to share a few words and express his excitement.
“Summer learning loss is a very real issue,” Abele said.
In order to combat this “loss,” Abele said the best way is to utilize all the seasons, including summer, and all the tools on hand which is exactly what Hot Summer MKE does.
“If you don’t know, we made it (the site) really easy for you to check,” Abele said, with the icons categorizing activities by date and by zip code.
As the purpose of Hot Summer MKE is aimed at MPS, MPS Interim Superintendent Dr. Keith Posley expressed his approval for the program. For the past two weeks, he visited 15 schools and asked students their plans for the summer. In every room he visited, students raised their hands and said they were planning to attend summer school.
“I ask that all people around Milwaukee Embrace this project,” Posley said.