Several school districts around the country have taken the idea of a state lottery and given it a new twist, with high school students as the ‘lottery’ players. This Associated Press article from Salon.com tells the story.
High schools are offering some big-time incentives for kids to come to school; things like movie or show tickets, chunks of cash, game systems, and the biggest motivator, new cars and trucks are being offered to kids with perfect (or near perfect in some cases) attendance. The prizes are donated by local merchants or organizations so this is not a case of a school district wasting taxpayer money, actually it can work out as a win-win situation for all parties involved:
- The kids are more motivated to attend school by the offered prizes and, as a bonus, they will hopefully get the ‘habit’ of regular attendance and continue it even when there is not a contest going on.
- The people of the community benefit by getting better educated, ‘mainstreamed’ kids who have the potential to contribute more to their families and their communities and are less likely to commit serious crimes (but don’t count on them staying out of trouble altogether).
- The merchants or organizations that offer the prizes benefit by the well-deserved publicity they receive, by their enhanced status’ as ‘socially-responsible’ members of the community, and ideally they get some extra revenue in their pockets in the form of increased donations or increased sales from an appreciative community.
- The schools or school districts benefit by being able to do their jobs of educating our kids but they also benefit by showing a good attendance record to the state board of education. In most cases, an increase in attendance will increase the school district’s state funding (the cited article indicates that in Wyoming, an increase in “average-daily attendance” by just one student can net the school district $12,000 per year from the state).
I confess that when I first read this article and some others on the same subject I said to myself, “this is awful! Why should we have to ‘bribe’ kids just to get them to do what they should be doing: getting their butts out of bed and getting to school.”
But then I got my head out of the ideal world into the real world: This is just an extension of what my parents (and the parents of all my friends) did (ever so long ago) to encourage us to get our butts out of bed and get to school. There were no big dollar award attached to it (we were not “well off” families) but the “prizes” were big to us, things like not loosing our allowances, getting to go to the movies, parties, the pool, etc.; ordinary things that ‘bribed’ us into getting through high school.
So kudos to the school districts for using some common sense and a big thanks to every merchant or organization (and all you parents out there) who ever contributed to the education of your community’s kids. With apologies to General Electric (as I modify their old slogan): Kids are our most important product!
AP on Salon.com: Schools Offer Cars for Good Attendance
The Detroit News: Student scores truck for good attendance
From the blogosphere:
Discussion Forums US: Wyoming High School student with near-perfect attendance hits the jackpot!
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