Paying Teens to Go to School Is Their Only Hope

high school gradOkay, so your first reaction to this story will likely be along the lines of, "Paying teens to go to school? That's outrageous!! Exactly what kind of lazy, entitled kids are we raising in this country?!" And I get that. It does sound crazy at first. But when you really think about it, the idea makes a lot of sense.

Camden High School in Philadelphia is one of several schools in the country to implement the anti-truancy program "I Can End Truancy" (also known as ICE-T), which pays at-risk students $100 at the end of September if they attend most of their classes. And the thing is, these kids genuinely are at-risk.


The teens eligible for ICE-T, which is funded by a state grant, have serious issues that make staying in school a real challenge. Some of them are helping to raise younger siblings, others are caring for older parents. Still others are totally on their own and find supporting themselves financially while managing the demands of school to be nearly impossible. (Considering the types of jobs available to teens with no experience, it's a wonder these kids are able to support themselves at all.)

I know 100 bucks at the end of a month isn't going to make a huge difference in these kids' lives, but the validation it offers could. This program recognizes, publicly, that some kids get a raw deal in life, that the playing field is NOT level. This program says, out loud and for everybody to hear, "Look, we know this is harder for you than it is for other kids, but we still want you to succeed."

The fact is, if a teen can't afford to go to school because he has to work two jobs to take care of himself or his family, or can't leave the house because she's been given the responsibility of raising her baby sister, it's not the teen's fault. I can understand the argument against the concept of "victims of circumstance" when the term is applied to healthy, able adults, but not children. They're lying in a bed somebody else made for them.

Do you think at-risk teens deserve financial rewards for going to school?


Image via Carly Lesser and Art Drauglis/Flickr

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