Come to school, win a valuable prize

Chicago’s superintendent will bribe — um, reward — high school students for showing up. The Chicago Sun-Times reports:

Tickets to sporting events and coupons for Walgreens drug stores are among the incentives that will be offered to Chicago public high school students this year to get them to show up for class more often.

Some kids likened the idea to bribes, but Chicago Schools CEO Arne Duncan said he was merely trying to “incent improvement.”

A 2 percent increase in attendance would bring in an extra $55 million in state aid. Students who heard the announcement weren’t enthusiastic.

“We can’t bribe children to go to school,” said Paola Hidalgo, a Hancock senior who stood behind the mayor in the library. “It’s our responsibility to go to school. Teachers can’t do miracles.”

Schools may say “OK, I’ll give you a prize right now,” Paola said. “But if you don’t want to be there, you’ll just take the prize [and do what you want]. Are they going to keep on giving you more stuff to stay in school?”

I’m with Paola. The incentive for attending school should be the chance to learn.

I won a trophy for perfect attendance in fourth grade. My teacher had won it in a dance contest at the Hotel Fontainebleau in Miami Beach. I cherished it because it came from Mr. Parker, a brilliant teacher. I would not have shown up every day for a Walgreen’s coupon.

About Joanne

Comments

  1. Alex Bensky says:

    The worst part of this is the school system’s CEO referring to his efforts to “incent” students to attend classes regularly.

    If the head of the schools speaks in illiterate gobbledegook, what can we expect of the teachers and the students?

  2. Alex Bensky says:

    The worst part of this is the school system’s CEO referring to his efforts to “incent” students to attend classes regularly.

    If the head of the schools speaks in illiterate gobbledegook, what can we expect of the teachers and the students?

  3. Here are previous (pre-Movable Type) comments:

    #1 Aug 14 2003, 05:56 am
    It reminds me of how some of my friends’ parents would give them $10 for every A, $5 for every B….I was a straight-A student and didn’t get squat.

    My parents explained it as “you need to be motivated to do well for yourself, not for the money”

    I thought they were just being cheapskates – until I became an adult and had to DEAL with people whose only motivation to do anything is “what’s in it for me in terms of material gain”.

    this is a really bad idea. What’s next, giving Red Wings tickets to people who show up for work?
    ricki
      

    #2 Aug 14 2003, 05:57 am
    And another thing – since when is “incent” a word?

    I’m guessing the person used it as a verb, a backformation from “incentive,” but it still sounds really bad.
    ricki
      

    #3 Aug 14 2003, 07:12 am
    Napoleon: People will not die for money, but they will die for a bit of ribbon.

    I guess that school administrators are themselves incapable of responding to anything other than tangible incentives, and they project their own stunted personalities onto others.
    David Foster   

    #4 Aug 14 2003, 07:59 am
    Yes, you do have to wonder about a school system with a CEO who can’t use English properly. (Don’t even ask me how I feel about “impact” as a verb.)
    Library Gryffon

      

    #5 Aug 14 2003, 10:37 am
    Even while in School, I thought the perfect attendance award was a crock.
    An award who’s only requirement was that you still breathed air, regardless of your health or mental attitude?
    K.A.Hughes RA
      

    #6 Aug 14 2003, 11:26 am
    Some kids likened the idea to bribes, but Chicago Schools CEO Arne Duncan said he was merely trying to “incent improvement.”

    And merely trying to invent verbs, as several people have mentioned.

    With respect, Joanne, obviously you (and most of us here) didn’t need incentives to get ourselves to school. It’s an aspect of maturity, I think, that you can see the long term advantages of going to class and ignore the short term advantages of cutting out. Plus, most of us received certain incentives (or avoided disincentives, more accurately) from our parents.

    But if you’re not that mature, maybe a doggie biscuit will keep you in school. Yeah, they’re bribes, and I think they could be handled better. But if it keeps some students in school who would otherwise skip out, isn’t that an improvement? (Next step: keep bored students from disrupting class for everyone else. Then we can move on to actually teaching them something.)

    The plan sounds pretty vague, and is apparently based on a school’s or student’s improvement rather than some set attendance. I think I’d rather see classes rewarded somehow for, say, perfect attendance for a month; this would use some peer pressure, which I’m not sure would work for an entire school. (And how do you reward an entire school? Gonna send them all to a Bulls game?)

    Possibly a more fruitful approach would be to figure out how to make attending school more fun… but we know that that usually leads to less learning, which defeats the whole purpose.
    PJ/Maryland
      

    #7 Aug 14 2003, 03:53 pm
    My problem with attendance awards was what about the child who genuinely wants to be there, but who has a less than perfect immune system, and gets that case of strep throat (chicken pox, pink eye, etc) every time it goes through the school.

    I always missed perfect attendance because of a few bouts of something which the school definately didn’t want me to share. 8)

    Now awards for completion of all homework for a given time frame…..
    LibraryGryffon
      

    #8 Aug 14 2003, 05:49 pm
    I took my fair share of mental health days when I was at school — usually 12-15 out of a 36 week school year. (I was rarely, if ever, genuinely ill.) On those mornings when I just couldn’t face school, a freakin’ Wallgreens coupon would not have got my backside out of bed.

    I think this is a slippery slope, and not one schools should go down. It just sends the message that adhering to the most basic of expectations is something only a fool does for free.

    (As for rewards for grades, we got $5 for every A, and our parents took us to Chuck E Cheese, where they gave out a certain number of games tokens for every A and every B on your report card. This certainly didn’t motivate us to study — it was hardly a pony or a new car — but it was a nice way to end each quarter of the school year. We looked forward to it, but the motivation to get those grades was something instilled in us by our parents and our teachers, and was so ingrained that to not strive for top marks would have been unquestionable.)
    jackie d
      

    #9 Aug 14 2003, 07:18 pm
    The schools aren’t trying to motivate kids whose parents expect good grades from them — they’re trying to motivate the kids whose parents don’t care if their kids are in school or not as long as they’re not underfoot while they’re using or hooking — if the kids even have a place to be underfoot and aren’t sleeping in a different house every night because what passed for a parent is in jail at the moment.

    I’m not saying extrinsic motivation is the best solution — but sometimes you’re desperate to get them in school any way you can, and you throw up your hands and go with whatever works. And extrinsic motivation works for some of these kids.You can’t teach them if they don’t show up, and then they take the state tests with everybody else and next thing you know people are saying you failed to teach them anything. Listen, I taught in urban classrooms, and it’s a happy thing when kids show up two days out of the week. You’re lucky if you finish the semester with six kids who started it — the turnover is that bad. I don’t know what you do with kids who have no incentive to learn other than divert school funding to law enforcement.
    Rita —

    #10 Aug 15 2003, 01:56 pm
    The schools aren’t trying to motivate kids whose parents expect good grades from them — they’re trying to motivate the kids whose parents don’t care if their kids are in school or not as long as they’re not underfoot while they’re using or hooking…

    Exactly. Wallgreens coupons will not motivate these kids.
    jackie d

  4. Here are previous (pre-Movable Type) comments:

    #1 Aug 14 2003, 05:56 am
    It reminds me of how some of my friends’ parents would give them $10 for every A, $5 for every B….I was a straight-A student and didn’t get squat.

    My parents explained it as “you need to be motivated to do well for yourself, not for the money”

    I thought they were just being cheapskates – until I became an adult and had to DEAL with people whose only motivation to do anything is “what’s in it for me in terms of material gain”.

    this is a really bad idea. What’s next, giving Red Wings tickets to people who show up for work?
    ricki
      

    #2 Aug 14 2003, 05:57 am
    And another thing – since when is “incent” a word?

    I’m guessing the person used it as a verb, a backformation from “incentive,” but it still sounds really bad.
    ricki
      

    #3 Aug 14 2003, 07:12 am
    Napoleon: People will not die for money, but they will die for a bit of ribbon.

    I guess that school administrators are themselves incapable of responding to anything other than tangible incentives, and they project their own stunted personalities onto others.
    David Foster   

    #4 Aug 14 2003, 07:59 am
    Yes, you do have to wonder about a school system with a CEO who can’t use English properly. (Don’t even ask me how I feel about “impact” as a verb.)
    Library Gryffon

      

    #5 Aug 14 2003, 10:37 am
    Even while in School, I thought the perfect attendance award was a crock.
    An award who’s only requirement was that you still breathed air, regardless of your health or mental attitude?
    K.A.Hughes RA
      

    #6 Aug 14 2003, 11:26 am
    Some kids likened the idea to bribes, but Chicago Schools CEO Arne Duncan said he was merely trying to “incent improvement.”

    And merely trying to invent verbs, as several people have mentioned.

    With respect, Joanne, obviously you (and most of us here) didn’t need incentives to get ourselves to school. It’s an aspect of maturity, I think, that you can see the long term advantages of going to class and ignore the short term advantages of cutting out. Plus, most of us received certain incentives (or avoided disincentives, more accurately) from our parents.

    But if you’re not that mature, maybe a doggie biscuit will keep you in school. Yeah, they’re bribes, and I think they could be handled better. But if it keeps some students in school who would otherwise skip out, isn’t that an improvement? (Next step: keep bored students from disrupting class for everyone else. Then we can move on to actually teaching them something.)

    The plan sounds pretty vague, and is apparently based on a school’s or student’s improvement rather than some set attendance. I think I’d rather see classes rewarded somehow for, say, perfect attendance for a month; this would use some peer pressure, which I’m not sure would work for an entire school. (And how do you reward an entire school? Gonna send them all to a Bulls game?)

    Possibly a more fruitful approach would be to figure out how to make attending school more fun… but we know that that usually leads to less learning, which defeats the whole purpose.
    PJ/Maryland
      

    #7 Aug 14 2003, 03:53 pm
    My problem with attendance awards was what about the child who genuinely wants to be there, but who has a less than perfect immune system, and gets that case of strep throat (chicken pox, pink eye, etc) every time it goes through the school.

    I always missed perfect attendance because of a few bouts of something which the school definately didn’t want me to share. 8)

    Now awards for completion of all homework for a given time frame…..
    LibraryGryffon
      

    #8 Aug 14 2003, 05:49 pm
    I took my fair share of mental health days when I was at school — usually 12-15 out of a 36 week school year. (I was rarely, if ever, genuinely ill.) On those mornings when I just couldn’t face school, a freakin’ Wallgreens coupon would not have got my backside out of bed.

    I think this is a slippery slope, and not one schools should go down. It just sends the message that adhering to the most basic of expectations is something only a fool does for free.

    (As for rewards for grades, we got $5 for every A, and our parents took us to Chuck E Cheese, where they gave out a certain number of games tokens for every A and every B on your report card. This certainly didn’t motivate us to study — it was hardly a pony or a new car — but it was a nice way to end each quarter of the school year. We looked forward to it, but the motivation to get those grades was something instilled in us by our parents and our teachers, and was so ingrained that to not strive for top marks would have been unquestionable.)
    jackie d
      

    #9 Aug 14 2003, 07:18 pm
    The schools aren’t trying to motivate kids whose parents expect good grades from them — they’re trying to motivate the kids whose parents don’t care if their kids are in school or not as long as they’re not underfoot while they’re using or hooking — if the kids even have a place to be underfoot and aren’t sleeping in a different house every night because what passed for a parent is in jail at the moment.

    I’m not saying extrinsic motivation is the best solution — but sometimes you’re desperate to get them in school any way you can, and you throw up your hands and go with whatever works. And extrinsic motivation works for some of these kids.You can’t teach them if they don’t show up, and then they take the state tests with everybody else and next thing you know people are saying you failed to teach them anything. Listen, I taught in urban classrooms, and it’s a happy thing when kids show up two days out of the week. You’re lucky if you finish the semester with six kids who started it — the turnover is that bad. I don’t know what you do with kids who have no incentive to learn other than divert school funding to law enforcement.
    Rita —

    #10 Aug 15 2003, 01:56 pm
    The schools aren’t trying to motivate kids whose parents expect good grades from them — they’re trying to motivate the kids whose parents don’t care if their kids are in school or not as long as they’re not underfoot while they’re using or hooking…

    Exactly. Wallgreens coupons will not motivate these kids.
    jackie d

  5. Nick Tallyn says:

    Re: comment 4 (from Joanne’s paste)

    What’s wrong with using “impact” as a verb? It’s rather common in my line of work.

    From dictionary.com
    impact (verb, transitive)
    2. To strike forcefully.

  6. Nick Tallyn says:

    Re: comment 4 (from Joanne’s paste)

    What’s wrong with using “impact” as a verb? It’s rather common in my line of work.

    From dictionary.com
    impact (verb, transitive)
    2. To strike forcefully.

  7. jeff wright says:

    Anybody who’s spent any time around the education racket knows about “ADA,” or average daily attendance. There’s money involved if you can get more kids to show up. But in my opinion, teachers have to ask themselves if they really want some of these kids to show up at all.

    I can recall blissful days when some little angels weren’t in class. I’m not so sure I would have liked the idea of administrators—who didn’t have to deal with these kids—paying them off to be there. It’s not as if the bribes would have magically transformed them into good students and/or good citizens.

    I’ve posted this before and I’ll do it again. Flunk ’em out and let ’em live with their parents forever. They deserve each other. Professional educators (oxymoron?) do not seem capable of understanding a very simple concept: coddling these kids does nothing more than cheat their peers who want to learn out of their right to a decent education.

    Unfortunately, there is another side of the coin. I was an inveterate cutter in HS for one simple reason: boredom. Knew the material, got A’s on tests, but couldn’t stand the teachers and the total lack of challenge or stimulus in day-to-day classroom life. This was before AP and all of that. If the kids who are routinely bailing out are of the caliber that can learn and contribute to society, forget the bribes. Get them some decent teachers and some classes that will challenge them. They’ll show up.

  8. jeff wright says:

    Anybody who’s spent any time around the education racket knows about “ADA,” or average daily attendance. There’s money involved if you can get more kids to show up. But in my opinion, teachers have to ask themselves if they really want some of these kids to show up at all.

    I can recall blissful days when some little angels weren’t in class. I’m not so sure I would have liked the idea of administrators—who didn’t have to deal with these kids—paying them off to be there. It’s not as if the bribes would have magically transformed them into good students and/or good citizens.

    I’ve posted this before and I’ll do it again. Flunk ’em out and let ’em live with their parents forever. They deserve each other. Professional educators (oxymoron?) do not seem capable of understanding a very simple concept: coddling these kids does nothing more than cheat their peers who want to learn out of their right to a decent education.

    Unfortunately, there is another side of the coin. I was an inveterate cutter in HS for one simple reason: boredom. Knew the material, got A’s on tests, but couldn’t stand the teachers and the total lack of challenge or stimulus in day-to-day classroom life. This was before AP and all of that. If the kids who are routinely bailing out are of the caliber that can learn and contribute to society, forget the bribes. Get them some decent teachers and some classes that will challenge them. They’ll show up.