Monday, February 06, 2006

Perfect Attendance

During my K-12 school years, I missed less than 5 days of school. Most of the days missed came in elementary school. I had eye surgery when I was in 3rd grade. My mom scheduled it over Easter break so I wouldn't miss any more than necessary. I didn't miss any during high school.

Too bad that was over 25 years ago. All I got for my effort was a mediocre education and a certificate. If I went to high school in some areas today I would have been nearly $400 richer by the end of twelfth grade. That's because they are now paying $25 a quarter for perfect attendance. It's not the parents paying to learn by the way. It's the school paying to keep the children in school. Here's how one principal in Chelsea, MA looked at this,
"I was at first taken a little aback by the idea: we're going to pay kids to come to school?" said the principal, Morton Orlov II. "But then I thought perfect attendance is not such a bad behavior to reward. We are sort of putting our money where our mouth is."
Excuse me, Mr. Principal, it's not your money you're spending. If you want to put your money where your mouth is then open up your wallet not mine. This "pay to learn" policy is becoming more common all around the country.

Across the country, schools have begun to offer cars, iPods - even a month's rent. Some of the prizes are paid for by local businesses or donors; others come out of school budgets. At Oldham County High School in Buckner, Ky., Krystal Brooks, 19, won a canary yellow Ford Mustang. In Temecula, Calif., the school district prizes can include iPods, DVD players and a trip to Disneyland.
Some incentives appear to reward the parents not the children for good attendance. In Chicago, some of the schools are helping to pay the mortgage or buy groceries. The district has an incentive, they receive $18 million more in state money for every 1 percent increase in attendance.

It's bad enough that we have compulsory attenance laws, now we have to pay a bribe keep the children inside the building. One administrator quoted in the article said,
"Some people could look at it like we're trying to bribe the kids to come to school," he said, "but if it takes that to instill a lifelong value in them, then it's worth it."
And just what is that value that is so important that you have to pay them to learn it? How valuable can it really be? Ask yourself, if we haven't taught a child by high school the value of learning how well have the schools done in truly educating our nation's children?

And the most ridiculous comment on the subject has to be from David W. Kirkpatrick, a Senior Education Fellow at the U.S. Freedom Foundation (via EducationNews.Org). In response to the notion that this is nothing but a bribe, he said,
[H]ow many adults work for someone for nothing because working is something they need to do anyway. Do they consider their paycheck to be nothing but a bribe, or is it regarded as pay for performance?
Since when did our children become employees of the state needing to be compensated for performance? Sigh. (And people send ME emails saying I just don't get it!) Maybe we would should take this a step further and encourage the students to unionize. After all most are "working" for well below the minimum wage!

(HT: Patricia Hunter)

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