It's half school, half extracurricular, all hands on. For two years, the city's Summer Quest program has provided extra learning for thousands of struggling students in the South Bronx, nine hours a day, five days a week for five weeks.
For the students, the goal is to prevent summer learning loss, a big problem for low-income kids. For the program, the goal is to prove that it works and then expand it nationally.
Back in July, the city invited reporters to tour one of the 11 sites and learn about the multi-million-dollar three-year pilot, then in its second year.
However, when NY1 asked for results from the first year, a Department of Education spokesperson told us they didn't have anything ready.
Not true, it turns out. NY1 recently discovered a 40-page report that the DOE has had for a year. Buried on page 27 were the academic findings.
"For the middle school students, both program and comparison groups experienced summer learning loss in math and English," the report says. "There was no...difference in summer learning loss between the program and comparison groups."
The report also found that while more students came to see math as useful over the course of the summer, "The proportion of middle school participants who agreed with the statement "Reading is boring" also increased."
Many education reformers think making school all year round, with lots of extra time for more reading and math learning interspersed with some extra-curricular activities, will help close the achievement gap.
Not according to the Bloomberg/DOE program.
And how much did all of this cost?
The pilot program is expected to cost more than $12 million, about $5 million in public funds and the rest raised privately.
"We're tackling something that's extremely difficult, but I'm proud of the collaborative effort," Walcott said.
With more than 35 city offices, dozens of community based organizations and several high-profile donors, a lot is riding on the results.
No wonder the DOE tried to hide the results of the program.
All that money, the mayor's prestige, the education reformers' ideology - all on the line.
And all went down - along with the results of the program.
Hey - I know.
Maybe give the kids some time off from the drill and kill.
Don't have them constantly going to school for nine hours a day, five days a week.
Maybe then they won't hate school.
Maybe then they'll want to read and learn.
Maybe then it will be fun.
Maybe then some of the achievement gap problem would be solved.
The cynic in me says the people behind this program could care less if the kids in it learn to read and write better or improve their math skills.
The cynic in me says the people behind this program want the kids to be socialized to expect a lifetime of nine hours of drudge work a day, five days a week, no vacations.
The cynic in me says the program was a success.