I spent 10 years working to improve access to high-quality summer programs for under-served students, collaborating with outstanding practitioners, funders, researchers and policymakers. The Summer Slide is a comprehensive look at what we know about summer, from home environment to schools, health to youth employment, public to private funding.
The opportunity gap is the disparity in access to quality schools and other resources necessary for all children and youth to be academically successful.One way of understanding this gap is to look at Consumer Expenditure Surveys from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Those statistics show that over the last 40 years, upper-income parents have increased the amount they spend on their children’s enrichment activities, like tutoring, extracurricular activities, and summer camp, by $5,300 a year. Over the same time period, lower-income parents have only been able to increase their investment by $480, adjusted for inflation, meaning the most affluent parents’ spending on enrichment activities for their children grew about two and a half times (250%) from 1972–1973 to 2005–2006, compared to an increase of only 57% for the least well-off parents, widening what was already a substantial gap (Duncan & Murnane, 2011). This data includes spending on private schools, which may go beyond what many consider enrichment. Nonetheless, the overall trend is clear. The opportunity gap as measured by spending on enrichment is growing rapidly.