Young Californians unfit for military service

Students falling behind in math and reading and
packing on the pounds over summer vacation have helped make three out of
four young Californians unfit for military service, according to a
report released Thursday.

The report – “Lazy Days of Summer: A National Security Threat?” –
was released by Mission: Readiness, a nonprofit organization of more
than 300 retired admirals, generals and other senior military personnel.
The report cites Department of Defense data, along with previous
studies by the Kaiser Family Foundation, the California Department of
Education, the Centers for Disease Control and other groups.

Mission: Readiness characterized the one-two punch of
declining academic skills and physical fitness as a threat to military
readiness.

“Yes, times are economically tough. But from a military
perspective, underfunding summer programs that get kids to exercise
their bodies and brains is like asking the Army to try to save money by
teaching helicopter pilots how to take off and navigate, but not how to
land,” retired Army Maj. Gen. James W. Comstock is quoted in a press
release. “Both approaches are likely to result in mission failure.”

Among the report’s findings: Almost half of the weight
children gain over the course of the year happens during summer
vacation. At the same time, the regression in reading and math skills
that occurs over the summer accounts for up to two-thirds of the
educational gap between disadvantaged and better-off children, according to the report.

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