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Paying|Children|to Attend|School

1 student every 26 seconds drops out of school in America. Nationally, only 53.4% black Americans get a high school diploma. What happen to the other half? Numerous factors, of course, weigh in on this statistic.

As Soledad O’Brien’s part 1 report in the CNN special of Black in America reveals, some people are taking steps to change this. In New York, there is a program in process that actually pays children to go to school.

The program last 2 years and is obviously experimental; the children who participate in the program start young (10yrs old), and they get paid for scoring perfectly on test given.

As crazy as this may sound to some, this isn’t anything new. In the mid 1990s, Mexico implemented a similar plan except it paid poor parents to keep their children in school and to take them for regular health check-ups.

The Million”, another experimental program implemented, is a cell phone that disables text messaging, certain internet features, and other distracting features of cell phones while children are in the class. These particular phones allow children to learn and take test via their cell phone incorporating traditional teaching as well. When outside of the classroom, the cell phones function normally.

Most of the children in these programs are children from poor backgrounds and/or broken homes, which makes them all the more likely not to graduate from high school among other things.

Some people may look at this as a “bribe” of some sort, and basically, it is. It serves  more as motivation for the children than anything else.

People above the poverty line may take motivation from those around them, family, friends, etc. On the other hand, 33% of all black children live below the poverty line and these children typically do not have this kind of motivation in their lives. Most of their families/friends are poor like I mentioned earlier, so they don’t have the degree(s)/careers and such for a child to “look up to” so to speak. Often the things that they do have to “look up to” is very bleak.

For people like you or me who may look at things from a long-term point of view, we may think motivation lies in getting the diploma, degrees, and then great careers, supposedly, that are to follow. We are motivated in knowing we will eventually get to that point with the right steps taken.

However, these children mostly look at the “now” because most of their circumstances are based on the now and not the “later”.

For example, if there is no food in the refrigerator and their mother/father doesn’t have the money to buy food today for them to eat because they don’t get paid until 3 days after today, and the parent is barely living and providing pay check to pay check—- the child is still hungry and waiting for those three days will not cure his/her hunger.

So far, the program has been successful but it is simply too soon to tell if the true success of graduating these children from high school, furthering that into college, and giving an overall promising future will actually be achieved.

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