Girls Gets Car for Good Attendance
December 2, 2006 1:44 PM   Subscribe

Wyoming girl gets new car for good attendance. In the latest set of incentives for high school students to stay in school, prizes of $10,000 or a new car are being given away in at least a half dozen school districts in the US. Some say paying doesn't pay off, given flat graduation rate changes.
posted by Hot Like Your 12V Wire (26 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
She had won a brand-new pickup truck for near-perfect school attendance.

I'm glad they decided to give her the most dangerous (to driver and others) type of vehicle possible.
posted by delmoi at 1:48 PM on December 2, 2006

You don't bribe kids to have better attendance in order to increase your graduation rates. You bribe kids to stay in school so your school gets more money. Which is a good thing, yay for more money for schools, but the mere fact that your school has good attendance rates doesn't mean that the kids are actually learning anything while they are there.
posted by 23skidoo at 1:54 PM on December 2, 2006

There's always going to be some kid who has perfect attendance, prize or not. Worse, I expect this sort of thing to have a negative effect in that after you miss a day or two of school, you're chances of winning that car go down dramatically so why bother showing up for any more classes.
posted by furtive at 1:57 PM on December 2, 2006

posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 2:01 PM on December 2, 2006

Ugh. Couldn't that car or the money they spent on it be given to the best teacher as an incentive for getting the students to learn? There are lots of problems with America's schools. I'd say truancy ranks fairly low.
posted by SBMike at 2:08 PM on December 2, 2006

That's not a car - it's a truck.

Oh and WTF.
posted by dangerousdan at 2:08 PM on December 2, 2006

It's only one more logical extension of the practice of incentivizing behaviors that should really only be followed because they are their own reward.
posted by Burhanistan at 2:16 PM on December 2, 2006

Some we've gone from rewarding smarts, to rewarding jocks, to now rewarding strong immune systems. This can only end badly.
posted by damn dirty ape at 2:17 PM on December 2, 2006

Also shouldnt you be giving a mode of transportation to the person with the worst attendance?
posted by damn dirty ape at 2:21 PM on December 2, 2006 [4 favorites]

A waste of money. The students that will win these rewards would have had good attendance anyway. Those that need motivation to attend won't buy into this, it is too long term.
posted by HuronBob at 2:21 PM on December 2, 2006

And not just any truck, but a $28,000 Chevrolet Colorado crew cab, in red, with an MP3 player.

Freedom comes standard.

Great. Freedom and MP3 players - can I get in on this?
posted by niles at 2:25 PM on December 2, 2006

The students that will win these rewards would have had good attendance anyway.

Exactly. From personal observation, the perfect attendance award winners in my schools (grammar school, jr. high and 2 high schools) were almost always at the B-/C+ level and didn't have much else going for them.
posted by psmealey at 2:30 PM on December 2, 2006

This is dumb. Most of the kids I was friends with in high school (all college-bound geeks) maxed out their allowed absences each semester. The schools should do something to focus on the kids who are about to drop out, not giving cars to kids who would be graduating regardless (with a 4.0 no less).

If the schools designed a system where students who have had bad attendance in the past could get rewarded for increasing their attendance by a standard deviation, then I could possibly get behind this. As it is, this is yet another example of school administrators having absolutely no clue how to give the right carrot to reward the right behavior out of the right student.
posted by gatorae at 2:34 PM on December 2, 2006

Well, at least they're not giving them hunting rifles or something. I like that the girl said she takes her truck with her everywhere, like its a bracelet or something. Doesn't the truck take her everywhere?

Is this a stupid program? Not if the school increases attendance and the cost of the vehicle doesn't come out of the school's pocket. It was donated in this (which always makes me want to grind on the dealership when I'm buying a new car because, if they can afford to give away cars, they can damn well knock $3K off the price of mine).

But I agree that this rewarding someone who would have done the same thing with or without the carrot.

I was wondering what kind of mp3 player and if that was donated or not too?
posted by fenriq at 2:39 PM on December 2, 2006

Good job they gave a highschool student a pickup truck. I mean, highschool students have a lot of tools and logs to haul around, so they need an offroad vehicle with plenty of cargo space, right?
posted by EndsOfInvention at 2:45 PM on December 2, 2006

This is stupid. She would have had perfect attendance already either way. She doesn't need a pickup truck. The money could have been put to better use elsewhere. And this doesn't help the people who would have seen that there was a contest for perfect attendance, laughed, and continued to play hooky.

Stupid stupid stupid.
posted by Sticherbeast at 3:08 PM on December 2, 2006

I mean, highschool students have a lot of tools and logs to haul around, so they need an offroad vehicle with plenty of cargo space, right?

Heh -- you should see the parking lot of some of the high schools in Austin, where there's consumerism and truck culture. When I passed by John Jay High School it always reminded me of a brand spanking new Ford dealer lot.
posted by rolypolyman at 3:19 PM on December 2, 2006

Freedom comes standard.

Do words mean anything at all any more? I wanted to kill everyone in the world when I read that.
posted by synaesthetichaze at 3:44 PM on December 2, 2006

So she gets a truck for coming to school sick, and forcing those with lesser and compromised immune systems to miss time?

I never understood giving anything for perfect attendance.
posted by stevis23 at 3:50 PM on December 2, 2006

Wow, this is the lamest thing I've heard in at least an hour.

This sort of misguided reward is nothing new. I know the idea is to give a tangible reward for suppsedly ideal behaviour, but not a lot of thought goes into these things. The question should always be "does it actually encourage people to behave this way, or only reward someone who already behaves this way?" It's typically the latter, and it is useless not only in that it fails to perform how it was intended, but it fosters resentment in people who feel it is rigged against them from the start.

It doesn't help in this case that the actual reward (a truck?!) was kind of dumb and inappropriate.. how about a scholarship or something of the same value? And then the fact that "perfect attendance" is of dubious value in the first place. Wouldn't WHAT YOU DO while there be more important?! What if you have a 2.0 gpa and 100% attendance? What if you are sporting a 4.0 and missed a few days due to being violently and uncontrollably ill?

Man, this is so dumb. >:|
posted by cj_ at 5:24 PM on December 2, 2006

Man, if they gave out free cars to turn up to school I so would've been there. Okay, I would have been there anyway but still....!
posted by liquorice at 6:06 PM on December 2, 2006

Does the difference between near-perfect attendance and perfect attendace mean anything, educationally? Because that gap is the only thing this prize will affect.

It's the kids with abysmal attendance you need to worry about, and this provides no incentive for them - this does nothing to move them from bad attendance to acceptable attendance.

The "district attendance officer" quoted in the article says the problem is that kids are getting jobs where they can make $15 an hour. What about actually, you know, focusing on the fact that - to some degree - the dropout rate is due to kids making choices about their time that seem rational in the short term (though not the long term)?

How much of high school involves things people really need to know? How much of that material is being learned in boring decontextualized ways, instead of in ways that show kids why they really need to know what they're being taught?

High school should be a time of apprenticeship. Spend two months in school, then spend two months in a paid apprenticeship position. Let businesses compete to offer these positions and be able to hire for low-cost, no-benefits positions. Kids who don't show up, either for their in-school time or their apprenticeship, don't get paid. Since only half the kids are in school at any given time, you can have smaller class sizes.

Not that this approach wouldn't have major hurdles. But it astounds me that we continue to lock up our kids into a system that barely prepares them for anything - including college.

Ugh. I could go on. I'm tired, as a public middle school teacher, of watching my struggling students later drop out of high school, and my advanced students come back to complain that they're just biding time until they go to college. I even wish my kids, twelve year-olds, could spend some time in the real world.
posted by Chanther at 6:27 PM on December 2, 2006 [1 favorite]

Twelve is the new twenty.
posted by five fresh fish at 7:29 PM on December 2, 2006

rolypolyman: I went to a private high school in Houston. One of the richest kids in my school (his grandfather and father were major partners in a large military contractor), who lived in one of the hoity-toitiest neighborhoods in the city, drove a fucking DUALIE with a towing winch on it. Totally ridiculous.
posted by papakwanz at 10:21 PM on December 2, 2006

Dear Student,

The school system would like to congratulate you on your perfect attendance record and award you with this brand new automobile as a reward. There is an almost 100% certainty that this perfect record is the result of your coming to school when you should have stayed home sick at least once, so we want to reward your bringing your typhoid-[Mary/Martin] ass into the classroom where you could breath recycled air with 22 to 50 of your classmates, insuring that whatever lung mung you were carrying got maximum distribution throughout the building.

While you were willing to stick it out even with snot running down your face like Niagra after big snowmelt, most of your fellow students are not that hardy, resulting in an overall drop in attendance throughout the school. Since we, like most other schools in the country, are handling a quantity of students in excess of our optimum carrying capacity, we relish every time a few of you stay home and reduce crowding - even if it's just for a day or two.

So thanks! We hope you enjoy this fine vehicle; it's got a sticker price approximating what we pay a first-year teacher (and since teacher retention is so low that describes a lot of them!) but don't worry - no school funds were diverted to provide it to you. It was a donation from a corporation looking to make an impression on consumers under the age of 18, something we've been more and more happy to allow into the school building where your attendance is mandatory. Unsurprisingly, corporations love knowing that their audience has to see their message, unlike at home where you use that TiVO to steal from them by skipping advertising.

With regards,

Principal Sellout.

ps - drive safely, but don't think you're going to find a parking space here on campus - almost none of you take the bus or carpool.

I thought about link-ifying a lot of that but I just don't have the will. Maybe I'll go home sick.
posted by phearlez at 8:39 AM on December 4, 2006

Awesome, phearlez. That ought to be send in triplicate to the school, the school board, the local newspapers, and the students.
posted by five fresh fish at 9:00 AM on December 4, 2006

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