Saturday, September 24, 2011
Is It Ethical For Schools In New Jersey To Pay Their Students To Attend School? ~by Marie Owens
The city of Camden, New Jersey is paying around 70 students $100 each to attend school for the month of September in the hopes that they will continue to do so once the program is finished, according to an online article from News Room Jersey. This author believes that the idea of paying a select group of students for bad behavior sends the wrong message to those who are punctual, despite suffering similar social and financial problems. To compound the problem, model students are not allowed to participate in the program, bringing up potential issues of discrimination.
According to The Philadelphia Inquirer, the program is aimed at ending truancy by having students attend special conflict-resolving and anger-management classes three days a week in a program called “ICE-T” (I Can End Truancy). The selected students don’t even have to attend all of the classes that will be offered in order to be eligible to collect the money.
Is this ill-devised program being implemented to really help the students or is it because of the money? If the money is not utilized by the end of September of this year, the city will not be eligible to receive such funding next year, according to CNN. . The program is funded by a grant from New Jersey’s Department of Criminal Justice and has to be used up by September 30, 2011. Once the program is over, the city will not have any means of ensuring that the students continue attending classes regularly, other than a pledge signed by the students. Additionally, most states must meet the 90 percent attendance requirement. Consequently, it looks like the city is using the funds to meet federal requirements. You don't have to have a criminal justice degree or a law degree to question the merits of this program.
It appears as if the city had to struggle to come up with chronically truant students, as only 25 percent of the students participating in the program fall into this category. The remaining students appear to be borderline cases or those who attend class but require some help. In essence, students are being paid to go to school on top of the free education they are getting at the expense of taxpayers. Being a parent comes with certain obligations and one of them is making sure that one's children attend school so they can become productive members of society. It is the moral duty of a parent and not the state to see to it that the children attend classes. If neither the parent nor the high school student are responsible enough to attend class, then perhaps they deserve the consequences associated with being uneducated. Furthermore, rewarding wrong behavior sends the message to model students that to be financially rewarded, they have to change their behavior and start skipping classes.
A better option is to make students earn the money. Students can be rewarded for maintain a minimum average of a “C” grade throughout the year or rewarded for good attendance. In sum, paying students after one month will not leave them with the incentive to continue attending classes for the remainder of the year. It seems more productive to observe all the students until the end of the year and then decide who deserves the money. States like California are facing budget cuts and have to fire teachers and increase class sizes to stay within budget. On the other hand, cities like Camden appear to be wasting money on frivolous projects just to make sure the money they have gets spent before a certain date.
In sum, paying students to attend classes does not teach them responsibility; if anything it teaches them that the only time they need do anything is when they are paid for it. Education may be every child’s right, but it is also a privilege that millions of children around the globe are denied. It is the duty of the parents to make sure their children understand the true value of an education.