Pay for Attendance?

Photo credit: Lolcats

Michael posted an article on his Facebook the other day, and just reading the title, “Cincinnati high school paying students to come to school,” I felt a rant coming on. How dare the school throw more taxpayer money at kids!! They should go to school for the love of it!!

But then I caught myself. And I had to think really long and hard about it. Why? Because I know for sure that when I was in grade school (up through 8th grade), our school was involved in a program with the Chicago White Sox. If you had perfect attendance (no absences at all, not even excused), you got a pair of tickets to a Sox game. By the time I reached high school, the Sox had ended the program because they were giving out too many free tickets.

At that time, tickets were around $7.50 each (I’m basing this on a webpage I found that detailed Yankees prices over the years. I’m guessing that in 1980, the prices for a Yank’s ticket and a Sox ticket were similar*). So, if you had perfect attendance, you were “paid” $15.00 – the price of a pair of Sox tickets.

This school is proposing a similar program, although it’s a little more blatant: a $25 gift card (Visa) for Seniors, $10 for underclassmen, plus $5 in a savings account, at the end of the year if attendance is perfect, they are on time for classes, and the student doesn’t get into any trouble.

So on that level, I really don’t have a problem with it.

Where I have the problem is with the fact that the school had a 14% Graduation Rate last year. To me, that is a problem that calls for a better solution than a gift card. What solution? Perhaps incentives for parents to get their butts involved. Maybe the parents of students who aren’t succeeding are compelled by law to go to school themselves. I don’t know. Perhaps they need to look at the teaching staff – one commenter suggested that maybe the teachers were “boring”, and they should use the $40K for this program to beef up the teaching staff. Maybe they should be doing that, along with the gift card incentive program.

I really don’t have the answers, which is why I’m just writing a critical blog post, instead of running a school.

But on the whole, I really don’t have a problem with a “perfect attendance” incentive. How about you?

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13 Responses to Pay for Attendance?

  1. mssc54 says:

    I need to remember to get back to this. The high-school where my Mrs. teaches has a great program. Then last year expanded the program to evening school three nights a week. They increased their graduation rate over one percent in a single year. May not seem like much but its huge if you are one of the graduates!

    • mssc54 says:

      The county in which my Mrs. teaches has a program called Credit Recovery. It’s all done on computer. Students work at their own pace. They can come in in the mornings each week day an hour before school. To get caught up on work they may be getting behind on.

      The night school has been a fabulous success! At the night school my Mrs. runs the show and each subject has one teacher in the computer lab.

  2. Joy says:

    I think I agree with you. I don’t see the problem with rewarding kids with a gift card of a small value. It’s such a small incentive and even the PTO could pay for them if the school couldn’t. It’s really no different than a pizza party at the end of a quarter for those who’ve done well.

    But it does bother me that the graduation rate is that low. Someone really needs to do some looking into that. I do think parents are pivotal to kids involvement in going to school and participating in things. I do believe the more involved you are in your child’s school life, the better I really think they’ll do.

  3. SKL says:

    I prefer positive incentives to punishing for tardies/absences. Of course, I never would have gotten this award (ha! ha!) but for $15 or whatever, I really would not care if others got it. Assuming there was a budget for it, of course. They spend more than that on various measures that are less effective. However, I’ve heard that there are much bigger cash incentives in some districts. That is a bit ridiculous. I mean, in real life, yeah, you get paid $X00 per week, but you also have $X00 per week in basic expenses. It’s a bad idea to set kids up to think they can have a bunch of money to play with just because they do what they are supposed to do (which is for their own good). Of course it also costs too much.

    I do think it’s rather silly to put $5 in a savings account. The cost of administering that would be more than it’s worth.

    I have somewhat rebellious ideas about getting teens to do what is good for them. I feel like they need more responsibility and less hand-holding. Parents create a structure and foundation for prioritizing school, but teens need to be responsible for the day-to-day aspects, including getting to school on time and doing what needs to be done in order to graduate.

    I would question all the teens in that district who did not / do not plan to graduate, and ask them why. It seems that would be a prerequisite to putting any money into a solution. I mean, is it because the graduation requirements are too lofty? Gangs are beating up kids who study? There’s urgency to get a job and not waiting for the diploma won’t make much difference to them in the job market? They don’t plan on getting a job at all? They have no access to community college? What?? Even in the cruddy district around here, I don’t think the graduation rate went below 25%, and that was considered a tragedy.

  4. Nikki says:

    I don’t have a problem with giving incentives for perfect attendance. I’m not sure if it would make a difference with some kids, but I can’t see how it would hurt. I’d like to see more money being put into programs that focus on career building, and building lasting economic stability. I think a program that would give incentives, but also teach them the importance of saving, and what expenses they are likely to encounter in the “real life”. I know I had nothing like that, and I could have benefited from a program like that. All in all, this isn’t a bad idea. I’d love to see the number of graduates, before and after the incentives were started.

  5. Joseph says:

    Enough coddling the kids. Isn’t school, especially high school to show these kids how to live in the real world. That it takes work and determination to live?

    $25 is a paltry reward that will do nothing. Enlightening their eyes to what actually lies ahead after school would be more beneficial. Why not work co-ops? Send students to work at McDonalds for a week. And let them actually work. Then pair them up with a job they would perhaps like to do and let them shadow someone for a week. Let them compare what they would then like to do. Perhaps too simplistic an idea. Perhaps to logistically impossible. But something more than a measly $25 bribe is required. Beside, by bribing them to finish, what does that actually accomplish?

  6. starlaschat says:

    I like the idea of a work co-op. Navar teaches a class that helps some of the high school students reseach and learn possible work information for when they get out of school. This year has been interesting being so close to the education process. I have personally noticed that quick fixes are sometimes not as easy as they sound. There’s so much that goes on in the schools that needs to be attended to. More money for teacher would be nice. Navar works really hard even though the moneys not very good. It’s heartbreaking when I hear the storys of what some of the kids have to deal with at their homes. Trying to get an education when your home life is falling apart can be near impossible. I think positive incentives are helpful.

  7. Laura says:

    I think the idea of Co-ops is an excellent one. When i was in HS, we had an alternative “vocational school” in our district. It wasn’t a place where the “flunkies” went – it was an actual “I want to go into this trade” kind of a school. One of my friends went there for half of her school day – she had dreams of being a chef. So she took the basics at our school – Lit, the Math-of-the-year, and History, and then the second half of the day, she was bused over to the Tech for her cooking and restauranting classes. As far as I know, it worked out very well for her.

    Frankly, I think ALL schooling should be directed this way. More hands-on training, and less ‘sit on your butt and listen to this lecture’ crap. I mean, I’m a good student, and I can’t handle much of that crap. I can see why our schools are failing so miserably, because they adhere so tightly to that old and outmoded way of teaching – assuming everyone learns one way, and one way only, through books, slideshows and worksheets. There’s no reason why science or history, or even literature has to be taught in a lecture hall. Why can’t they get outside or into a lab and actually get their hands dirty? That kind of stuff always interested me way more than just sitting.

    Like i said, I don’t have a problem, though, with the little incentive. To me, $25 is hardly a “bribe” for good attendance. Work a weekend, and you’ll make more than that. It’s more like a pat on the back for a job well done.

    • mssc54 says:

      Work an entire weekend? You mean like get up before noon? Comb or brush the hair? Dress appropriately? Ummmm, yeh sure.

      • SKL says:

        It really is funny how different kids are within the same class. On one hand you have kids who are good students, participate in multiple extracurriculars, act as student leaders, have a job outside of school, and do their chores at home. On the other, you have kids who won’t even bother to read a single book or keep their own rooms clean. As one of the former, I just can’t relate to the latter at all. If anything, paying attention to my schoolwork was a survival mechanism. If I had not been doing something with my brain all day, it probably would have imploded or exploded, one way or another. How does one sit in school for 7 hours and not learn anything? I’m talking about intelligent kids without learning disabilities.

  8. SKL says:

    I do think that “perfect attendance” is only going to happen for people who already attend school regularly. It’s that extra little push. I don’t think that is going to fix the problem of kids being so uninterested in school that they don’t bother meet graduation requirements. I mean, I had terrible attendance and had many other things vying for my attention, yet I still was a top student and graduated in 3 years. There is a big gap somewhere in there that needs attention. I’d be very surprised if a $25/year reward gets the flunkies to graduate.

    • Joseph says:

      No, a teeny $25 bribe will do nothing to solve attendance. And as you pointed out attendance doesn’t always correlate between succeeding in school.

  9. Joseph says:

    You know, now that I think of it, I was blessed with a wide array of awesome teachers throughout school.
    We had a middle school teacher who was very creative in the class. She would take her work (us) very personally and you could tell. She is still a great friend and mentor of mine.

    We had a junior high teacher whom we all respected. He sincerely listened to our desires and concerns. He also brought the classroom alive, one example of surprising us by taking us to a Shakespeare play in the old abbey ruins (now that’s a reward as it wasn’t expected). Or he’d take us outside in the field across from the school to have a reading session.

    They were I guess advanced educators by that days standards, as only now schools are trying to figure out how to implement a more personalized approach to education, at least in our school division.
    I think it also helped that the teachers were also know outside the classroom, such as at Church and in the community. Their respect and concern for us really showed. They weren’t just following a rigid education platform.

    I do see that the push to ‘standardize’ curriculum, although good in intent is only creating a robotic and cold education experience. Education should be engaging. I think this is half the problem. As ALL of my classmates that had the same teachers as I did graduated.

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