A summer school kids actually want to attend | Karim Abouelnaga

A summer school kids actually want to attend | Karim Abouelnaga

Getting a college education is a 20-year investment. When you’re growing up poor, you’re not accustomed
to thinking that far ahead. Instead, you’re thinking about
where you’re going to get your next meal and how your family
is going to pay rent that month. Besides, my parents
and my friends’ parents seemed to be doing just fine
driving taxis and working as janitors. It wasn’t until I was a teenager when I realized I didn’t
want to do those things. By then, I was two-thirds of the way
through my education, and it was almost too late
to turn things around. When you grow up poor,
you want to be rich. I was no different. I’m the second-oldest of seven, and was raised by a single mother
on government aid in Queens, New York. By virtue of growing up low-income, my siblings and I went
to some of New York City’s most struggling public schools. I had over 60 absences
when I was in seventh grade, because I didn’t feel like going to class. My high school had
a 55 percent graduation rate, and even worse, only 20 percent of the kids graduating were college-ready. When I actually did make it to college, I told my friend Brennan how our teachers would always ask us
to raise our hands if we were going to college. I was taken aback when Brennan said, “Karim, I’ve never been asked
that question before.” It was always, “What college
are you going to?” Just the way that question is phrased made it unacceptable for him
not to have gone to college. Nowadays I get asked a different question. “How were you able to make it out?” For years I said I was lucky, but it’s not just luck. When my older brother and I
graduated from high school at the very same time and he later dropped out
of a two-year college, I wanted to understand why he dropped out and I kept studying. It wasn’t until I got to Cornell
as a Presidential Research Scholar that I started to learn about
the very real educational consequences of being raised by a single mother
on government aid and attending the schools that I did. That’s when my older brother’s trajectory
began to make complete sense to me. I also learned that our most admirable
education reformers, people like Arne Duncan,
the former US Secretary of Education, or Wendy Kopp, the founder
of Teach For America, had never attended an inner city
public school like I had. So much of our education reform
is driven by a sympathetic approach, where people are saying, “Let’s go and help
these poor inner city kids, or these poor black and Latino kids,” instead of an empathetic approach, where someone like me, who had grown up
in this environment, could say, “I know the adversities that you’re facing and I want to help you overcome them.” Today when I get questions
about how I made it out, I share that one of the biggest reasons is that I wasn’t ashamed to ask for help. In a typical middle class
or affluent household, if a kid is struggling, there’s a good chance that a parent
or a teacher will come to their rescue even if they don’t ask for help. However, if that same kid
is growing up poor and doesn’t ask for help, there’s a good chance
that no one will help them. There are virtually
no social safety nets available. So seven years ago, I started to reform
our public education system shaped by my firsthand perspective. And I started with summer school. Research tells us that two-thirds
of the achievement gap, which is the disparity
in educational attainment between rich kids and poor kids or black kids and white kids, could be directly attributed
to the summer learning loss. In low-income neighborhoods,
kids forget almost three months of what they learned
during the school year over the summer. They return to school in the fall, and their teachers
spend another two months reteaching them old material. That’s five months. The school year in the United States
is only 10 months. If kids lose five months of learning
every single year, that’s half of their education. Half. If kids were in school over the summer,
then they couldn’t regress, but traditional summer school
is poorly designed. For kids it feels like punishment, and for teachers
it feels like babysitting. But how can we expect principals
to execute an effective summer program when the school year
ends the last week of June and then summer school starts
just one week later? There just isn’t enough time
to find the right people, sort out the logistics, and design an engaging curriculum
that excites kids and teachers. But what if we created a program
over the summer that empowered teachers
as teaching coaches to develop aspiring educators? What if we empowered
college-educated role models as teaching fellows to help kids realize
their college ambitions? What if empowered high-achieving kids as mentors to tutor their younger peers and inspire them
to invest in their education? What if we empowered all kids as scholars, asked them what colleges
they were going to, designed a summer school
they want to attend to completely eliminate
the summer learning loss and close two-thirds
of the achievement gap? By this summer, my team will have served
over 4,000 low-income children, trained over 300 aspiring teachers and created more than 1,000 seasonal jobs across some of New York City’s
most disadvantaged neighborhoods. (Applause) And our kids are succeeding. Two years of independent evaluations tell us that our kids
eliminate the summer learning loss and make growth of one month in math and two months in reading. So instead of returning to school
in the fall three months behind, they now go back four months ahead in math and five months ahead in reading. (Applause) Ten years ago, if you would have told me that I’d graduate in the top 10 percent
of my class from an Ivy League institution and have an opportunity to make a dent
on our public education system just by tackling two months
of the calendar year, I would have said, “Nah. No way.” What’s even more exciting is that if we can prevent
five months of lost time just by redesigning two months, imagine the possibilities
that we can unlock by tackling the rest of the calendar year. Thank you. (Applause)

54 thoughts on “A summer school kids actually want to attend | Karim Abouelnaga

  1. that moment when you go to get something…get in the room and forget it. and then you walk out the room and remember it

  2. I think TED should disable the comments section. Recently the comments on most videos are overwhelmingly filled with hate, intolerance and racism. And usually the hate has nothing to do with the actual TED talk but is just just from trolls having a sh**ty day and are trying to get an emotional reaction from anyone who will listen. I don't know what draws trolls here, but I can't think about another youtube channel that has attracted so many trolls to one place.

  3. I think the best summer school would be a test-free and grade-free environment that involves teaching and working only as far as you need to understand. And once you understand, you start teaching your peers. By the end of the summer, the previous year's knowledge should be locked in.

  4. 3:58 so if I learn something for 3 months but then I forgot… then I learnd it again for 2 months… does that mean I didnt learn anything?!? smh

  5. help asian people getting jobs….asian people are really discriminated groups not black or mexican…

  6. This guy needs to stop pretending that college isn't a scam and that everyone deserves to go. Not everyone is the same, and he is just setting more people up for failure and frustration.

  7. When you grow up rich or middle class you don't think 20 years ahead either, that's because you are a kid. 20 years is centuries away in your head at that age. Most kids are NEVER going to want to spend their FREE time at a summer school that they want to spend with their friends. No matter how engaging the curriculum is. Be realistic as to what kids want to do, the majority of them don't even want to be in regular school.

    What about the fact that a lot of people who complete college end up in a job which does not utilise anything they learned in college and thus forget near everything they've ever learned in school. All those years studying wasted.

  8. Ted. please turn off comments on your video, for your sake and the sake of the viewers, trolls have come to infest you. And there's no saveing the comments

  9. Summer school isn't the problem; the problem lies in the way kids are taught and the fact that almost all the things you learn in high school are completely useless and do nothing for you in the long term.

    School should teach you valuable experience which you can apply in life later on rather than simply regurgitating random facts and writing them down on an exam sheet. Until we fix what and how we teach, trying to teach kids to pass more tests will be completely useless.

  10. First off, I admire the goal you set and your approach to reach said goal. Evenso as you stated, your story is shaped by your firsthand perspective.

    However the latter part of your remark at 3:50 ‘Two thirds of the achievement gap which is the disparity in educational attainment between rich kids and poor kids or black kids and white kids…’ seems digressive at least…

  11. He didn't say what they do differently from other summer schools, why their method works better or why kids want to attend. Seven minutes just to say, "Summer schools are important and we have a successful summer-school program" and no further information.

  12. The internet has already empowered all Kids as Scholars.

    You are wasting money. Just connect all children to the internet and organize education services as a Universal process of public education. It would cost much less, free parents up to work on any schedule, and involve children in reality, rather than creating a false indoctrination for them to follow. And your model could be spread to the entire planet providing free internet Education to all humans. Which is a fair bit better than anything you will accomplish in a summer school program costing 5000% more money…

    Education is the path to ending inequality. But forcing poor kids into school over the summer, will only work for a few of them. The vast majority will show up if the weather is bad, or not at all. The stress of living in poverty, without a safety net, is too great in their daily REAL lives.

    You would do more for the people you are trying to help, by setting up internet services and distributing educational workstations. You can build an internet ready workstation for almost nothing, and with subsidies, literally nothing.

    If you want to change these kids lives, give them the internet and a platform for Education. ALL education. Make what you do, all the education any Person will need to get a degree and either start a career, or join a graduate program. Children are people, and Education never stops. The World we live in changes too fast for Education to ever be complete.

    This program is a waste of money, time, and effort. Please stop throwing away money and do something that will actually help children. Like pay for their food and healthcare, so their mom's don't have to work 3 jobs.

    The real education all children receive is from their parents. Parents who can't be there to help their children, learn how to learn, might as well just not be there at all. The children who grow up in poverty don't fail because of summer breaks, they fail because their parents are not there to teach them any of the important things you can't learn in school. Like how to want to learn, how to seek self improvement rather than shamefully hide failure.

    If you want successful children, you need to get the parents home, and involve them in the educational process. Otherwise you will fail. No matter how much money you waste.

  13. I went through private schools – we got summers off but we had reading lists etc. While I applaud Mr. Abouelnaga's program and the results of that program the only issue I have is this: With the kids from his program being 4 and 5 months ahead and then going back to traditional schools there's a high probability some will switch off when they repeat the same things. I know that's what happened the first time I tried to go to college – when they were teaching me stuff I'd already learned I thought what is the point.

  14. why does one have to go to an ivy league school to change the world? I notice that folks who create change all seemed to have attended these large popular schools. That doesn't make sence.

  15. awesome video. can relate to it on so many levels. that question "what college are you going to" is so powerful

  16. Your insights on educational reform and how you led by example is commendable, Karim. Hats off to you!

  17. The problem was his mother in fact, if you have no money, don't do kids, especially if you're single and can't keep a husband..

  18. Life is too short for summer school. You're only a kid for 18 years and I say summer is the best time to be one. Kids should go out, meet new people, and discover what they're really interested in in the summer.

    They make it seem like free time and relaxation aren't important. Brilliant Ideas come from relaxed thinkers. Maybe summer is a little too long, but I love it and think it's a perfect time to discover hobbies and grow relationships with friends and family(which is more important than being in an ivy league college or becoming a billionaire).

  19. Im in 7th grade!
    i read unlike most kids in my school and i love math.
    But language arts classes suck because the trachers literally give us a book to read and an assignment with qyestions about the book, which 1/2 the class ends up not doing.
    so its kind of pointless.

  20. I learned nothing from this. What did he really say in this talk that i can integrate into my own thinking?

  21. urm what about the whole "summer school kids WANT to attend". a massive part of effective education is making it appealing, i would like to see a lot more about that being discussed

  22. Well… that was a great video .If this idea really works then there won't be any time that goes waste instead of would be worth spending it in studies in some interesting way.??

  23. No one can change the world or make it a better place to live if racism and hate exist. You people are racists and judge people through their casts and colour. We all have a negative thinking which we possess in the society but disrespecting others or making them feel different from a sector is the worst thing to do to someone. Put yourself in his place and you would get to know how a person feels when he is considered different from the other sectors of the society.
    I suggest everyone to watch the video again and then give comment something. I think that if you people went through his stage of struggle you would easily back off.

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