I recently learned of a charter high school, Dohn Community High School, in Ohio that actually PAYS its students to attend. Seniors can receive $25 a week while younger students receive $10 a week in VISA gift cards for coming to class every day, beingon time and behaving well. $5 of the weekly amount is put into a savings account the students will have access to upon graduation. While some people are quick to shake their heads at this type of incentive for students to do what they’re supposed to do, the school Chief Administrative Officer says they’ve “tried everything else.”
I know that had I been earning money to attend school and later have access to savings money at graduation, I would push through the runny nose that often left me in bed. I would second guess how bad my stomach hurt in the morning, considering how good a new pair of shoes would feel. But, the reality is for many schools, this method is not likely to be implemented, and that’s where I believe the critics of this school are misguided.
90% of the school’s students live in poverty and less than 20% of the students live in two-parent households. In the 2010-2011 academic year, there was a jaw dropping 14% graduation rate. Considering these statistics, I believe any school in such a crisis should turn to method of paying students for attendance. The fact is that the 86% of students in the 2010-2011 graduating class found something to be more important or worthy of their time than school. Among almost all students there is the feeling every once in a while that we should just leave, enter the real world and get a job earning money. We genuinely believe at times this would be more satisfactory than sitting in a classroom. If students have the opportunity to earn even a small amount of money while working to earn a degree that is proven to aid in finding a job later, I believe they will accept the offer.
Money drives people. Everyone knows it, it is a fact of life for the majority of people. Children can be bribed by a dollar or even a quarter and teenagers are likely to perform chores when money is involved. I know some people are thinking, “Well, these are the things you’re supposed to do!” But, we live in a consumer society in which people believe if they do some sort of work, they will get some outcome via money. This is how the job market works, so I do not see a problem with this system in schools in such desperate need of a solution for attendance and graduation.
The chief Administrative Officer says, “money is important to these kids.” While, that may be true, money is important to most all people but these kids are in a situation in which is may be harder to see success as easily attainable. Therefore, they will settle without a high school diploma. But, this school is telling students that they can gain tangible success via the money they make, while attending school. I believe this bridges the gap for these students who may feel that school is not necessary for their happiness or success. Instead, these students can actually grasp their success while in school that may otherwise feel too distant.