By John Martin, CNN
(CNN) – About 14 million children will participate in summer programs across America this year. An estimated 24 million more children “are on the outside, looking in,” Gary Huggins, CEO of the National Summer Learning Association, told CNN. Their parents would enroll them in these programs if they were available and affordable.
Walmart and its philanthropy arm, the Walmart Foundation, announced on Wednesday that it is giving $20 million to support youth summer programs that promote healthy meals, educational opportunities and employment and skills training.
The six grant recipients are the YMCA of the USA (Y-USA); National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA); National Summer Learning Association (NSLA); Innovations in Civic Participation (ICP); Building Educated Leaders for Life (BELL); and Brandeis University. They operate or support summer programs in 350 communities.
NSLA, ICP and BELL will focus on summer learning initiatives. A Johns Hopkins study shows that low-income students can lose two months of math and reading ability over a nonproductive summer.
NSLA’s Huggins told CNN "there is a growing recognition among [school] district leaders that students are losing ground, and we have to stop that."
Here's what the editors of Schools of Thought are reading today:
New York Times: Amid Million Dollar PTAs, a School Fights to Keep Its Library
In response to an article on New York City PTAs that raise a million dollars, KJ Dell'Antonia says that one city school had trouble raising $40,000 to save its library. The school doesn't quite make the cut for Title I funds which would have saved the library outright, and Dell'Antonia wonders why parents should have to shoulder that financial burden.
U.S. News: College Financial Aid Packages May Become Clearer in 2013
Ten colleges and universities have pledged to release more detailed information about financial aid offers to prospective students. Students will be given financial information that includes how much the school will cost per year, the differences in the type of aid offered, and how much a monthly loan payment could be.
Food Safety News: Nearly Every State Opts Out of 'Pink Slime' for School Lunch
The U.S. Department of Agriculture says that only three states have ordered Lean Finely Textured Beef (LFTB), which critics call "pink slime," for their school lunch programs. Ground beef without LFTB costs about 3% more. The USDA and the beef industry say that LFTB is safe, but one beef producer isn't surprised that states have cut their orders for the product.
Carolina Journal's Sara Burrows on furor over North Carolina forcing kids to eat school lunch if bagged lunch doesn't meet USDA rules.
By Paul Frysh, CNN
Arugula, radishes, kale, pomegranates, persimmons, figs and quince - these are just some of the varieties of produce tended by students at Burgess-Peterson Elementary school, an urban school on the east side of Atlanta.
When the garden started three years ago, students hadn't even heard of - much less grown and eaten - a lot of the food now grown on school grounds.
And yet on the day CNN visited the school, fifth-graders ate quiche made with fresh spinach from the school garden, and fourth-graders chomped happily on slices of persimmon, an unusual orange-colored fruit, harvested from the school's fruit orchard.
You'd be surprised, said fifth-grade teacher Megan Kiser, what foods students are willing to try if they grow it themselves.
In the school's courtyard in November, students tended their plants - each class is responsible for a particular section of a particular bed. The students look in on their plants a few times a week, watering them as needed and harvesting them when the time is right. Each class from first to fifth grade weighs the produce for a friendly contest. The class that harvests the most weight by the end of the season wins a cooking demonstration from a local chef.
The garden is not just for looks: Eight pounds of produce from Friday alone went home with teachers for the Thanksgiving holiday.