School Bribes Kids With iPads & Other Prizes to Get Them to Show Up

kid on ipadA middle school in New Jersey lost $1.3 million in funding because of the district's high absentee rates, so they decided to take action. Using money and gifts donated by local businesses, the school is using iPads, bikes, and other gifts to incentivize kids to come to class. So far, it's working. The principal reports that attendance is up and that the kids are loving the contest, which ends June 11.

Sure, the incentives may be working, but ultimately, aren't they working against our children?

If we give them prizes for things they should do, and are legally obliged to do, we are failing them. If we can't incent our kids to go to school with the simple fact that it makes them better people, will help them get a job, will make them productive members of society, or at the very least, will enable them to go to college where they can roam free for four years and skip all the classes they want, we're not doing our best.

It's also a failed system in that it sets them up for disappointment. In the workforce, you don't get a prize for showing up. You don't get promoted for showing up. Showing up is a given ... shouldn't kids be taught that they won't be handed presents for doing what they're supposed to?

I mean, I'd love an iPad for filing my taxes on time, or a pizza party in my honor for obeying traffic laws. Unfortunately, that's not the way life works.

Comedian Chris Rock says it best when riffing on dead beat dads.

"I take care of my kids."

You're supposed to, you dumb motherf*cker! What kind of ignorant shit is that?

"I ain't never been to jail!"

What do you want, a cookie?! You're not supposed to go to jail, you low-expectation-having motherf*cker!

When our tweens and teens are taught in school, by school that they'll get a cookie just for showing up, it's not helping them. I understand the quick-fix mentality to try and get more kids in the classroom -- it's kind of like when a seventh-grader runs for student body president and promises candy and soda for lunch -- but it's an unrealistic, if not damaging formula that is possibly detrimental in the long run.

What do you think about incentives aimed at getting kids to go to school?


Photo via davitydave/Flickr



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melis... melissabilliot

We do get a reward for going to work it's called a paycheck.....a kid puts in a 40 hour week + whatever hours they spend doing a nice reward nice and then isn't u right this blog for free??? Nope u get a reward

nonmember avatar Alina

that's not entirely true. I don't think it's wrong to reward kids for doing the right thing, specially if the other way wasnt working, and it wasn't! And as adults, we do get rewards for showing up to work: it's called a paycheck! our children are not taught to love learning, and if an ipad helps them learn that school is not such a bad place, more power to then for using them.

nonmember avatar Meg

This will become a never ending cycle. What is going to convince the kids to come back next year except bigger prizes!

nonmember avatar Pam

People with jobs are paid to perform a function, not given money as a reward for being there. If the expectation is that kids get something just for showing up there is no incentive to actually learn things (like spelling and punctuation). Let's hope June 11 is the district's last day of school as well as the end of the contest, since attendance will likely increase again.

nonmember avatar Pam

*attendence will likely decrease again

Brenda Gibson

What happened to the days when if you didn't show up to school a truant officer would show up and take you to juvenile hall. It also used to be policy that the parents could end up in jail for not doing their job and getting their kids to school.  I understand rewards for good grades or perfect attendance, but giving them something for just showing up is a bad idea. How are you going to get them to show up to high school, give them a car?

kelsusie kelsusie

My son goes to school whether he likes it or not because, as I told him, I am NOT going to jail just because he doesn't like school.

mrssu... mrssundin

Dump there asses in juvenile hall that will solve the problem. I don't buy into coddling kids to do what is expected of them. Kids have been going to school for generations and not because they were rewarded because parents made their kids go. Parents are becoming pussies these days.

nonmember avatar sick and tired

people should not expect to get things for doing what they should be doing,especially something as expensive as that stuff ,they could give them little things for doing well but this other stuff is just bribes so the school will look better, make them sit in detention if they dont show up, and arent the parents supposed to be held somewhat accountable if their kids arent coming to school?!

Sydney Hammen Fuchs

I think our education system is a joke and we need to reevaulate shoving material items down kids' throats. And for the record, kids don't *need* to go to school nor are they legallaly obliged to do so. parents use what we call an "educational system as free babystitting and nothing more. 

Our kids are not educated, they dont explore and discover. They are beaten down by a system in the efforts to make them good workers and nothing more. The system is designed to kill creativity and ostracize thse that show any spark .

Screw the system. 

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