Some 19,000 Washington, D.C. youths are learning that work means getting paid for showing up for summer classes — except you might get paid even if you don’t show up and you might not get paid if you do. And don’t count on there being classes or anything else to do. Hundreds of students in the “summer jobs” program sat in a hot auditorium for a month with nothing to do and no pay, reports the Washington Post.
Dianna Robinson, the summer academy director, said students were stuck in the auditorium for the first two weeks because proper permissions for the site — the P.R. Harris Elementary School — had not been secured from the school system. She said programs in the next two weeks had been delayed because she was registering more than 500 students not on the payroll.
Students are supposed to be doing arts programs, such as jewelry-making, painting and singing in a choir, Robinson said, as well as learning such “life skills” as job readiness.
The kids are going to get an odd idea of what it means to have a job. According to some commenters, students who flunk a class and make it up in summer school also get paid, a reward for failure.
Robinson told the Post that the first month hadn’t been a waste.
“Some of these 14-year-olds are the only ones earning a salary in a three-generation household,” Robinson said. “If that means sitting in a hot auditorium, then I’m okay with that.”
To teach job readiness, D.C. could hire students to do real clean-up work during the summer, reserving paid jobs for students who worked hard during the school year. Your record shows you’re a slacker? Nobody will want to hire you, kid. Think about it.