I subscribe to the New York Times online, and although I don't have time to read it most days, I do try to read the Sunday edition. There is almost always something thought provoking in there, but a story in today's edition really knocked my socks off!
I had NO idea that schools are actually paying kids for good attendance. Some are paying as little as $25, and some are going so far as to put kids into a lottery if they have good attendance. They can win $500, $1,000, even a new computer or a car! If you think this sounds too wild to be true, read it yourself on the New York Times Web site.
This is just about THE #1 dumbest thing the schools have come up with! First of all, it assumes that the American notion of "seat times = an education" is indeed true, which I would argue it is not. There are plenty of kids who have good attendance and poor grades. Sitting in the classroom does not ensure that a child is educated. Second, you are telling kids that there is no value in going to school, so you are going to add value to it by paying them! Kids should be getting the message that an education is priceless!
Proponents of the plan say that they are not doing anything different than an employer who gives his or her employees a bonus for good attendance, and although there may be some employers who do that, most do not. If you have poor attendance in the world of work, you simply lose your job.
This is why I think unschooling is such a good option. My children learn because they want to, not because someone is bribing them with money or blackmailing them with the possibility of bad grades. They recognize the pursuit of knowledge as something that is important all by itself.