Should Taxpayers PAY Students to Attend High School?

There seems to be a serious issue with kids not attending school in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania — so much so that the high school’s principal actually suspended over 500 students for their truancy.

You read that right, 500 students suspended from class for skipping class. According to Pennlive, the truancy problem is ongoing, and often students are going to school but skipping actual classes. And given the horrific test scores of students in the school, this is a serious problem. From Pennlive:

The school’s tough stance against tardiness and unexcused absences was launched by the principal, Lisa Love, who said she could not improve academic achievement there if students don’t show up.

Last year’s Keystone test scores showed 7.3 percent of Harrisburg High School students performed as proficient in biology; 11.7 percent in algebra and 28.8 in literature. The state averages for those subjects, meanwhile, were 64.5 percent, 59 percent and 72.89 percent.

The school’s graduation rate increased to 52.78 percent in 2015, but still fell short of the statewide average of 84.75.

An author over at the Atlantic, Brentin Mock, thinks he’s come up with a brilliant idea to keep students in school – PAY THEM. Yes, he believes students should be paid $50 to $100 a day to attend school. Who will pay it? Why taxpayers, of course, because taxpayers aren’t already getting raked over the coals with education expenses that aren’t producing good results.

From The Atlantic:

And here it is: We need to pay high school students to go to school. I don’t mean some punk-ass weekly or monthly allowance, or a gift card for Dave & Busters. I’m talking about a deposit of somewhere in the ballpark of $50 to $100, every school day. That’s not for making honor roll; it’s just for making it to school in the morning and staying until the end of the day. Yes, compensated just for showing up. Think Universal Basic Income—but for kids.

So, this guy wants to create even MORE entitled Americans than already exist today? Is he insane?

What actually should be done is figure out WHY so many kids are skipping classes and school. Clearly there are serious issues in education that can’t get a large majority in Harrisburg to even want to attend. Punishment isn’t the only answer.

Of course, actually figuring out why so many students prefer not to go to class would shine a spotlight on teachers, and unions will not allow that. Until unions are extracted from public education, the system will never get better and will keep churning out kids who can’t read at an 8th grade level even though they have graduated high school.

Sure, you can place blame on the parents as well, but parents are also stuck within the same poorly-performing public education system. School boards ignore parents, and they too are at the mercy of unions, along with the failed politicians unions continue to buy into office.

Creating a new entitlement for these kids isn’t going to teach them anything. The incentive for going to school is to LEARN. If public schools, especially in poor areas, can’t incentivize students to stay in school based on what they are learning, they have much bigger issues.

Without changing the poor education students are receiving, paying them to attend isn’t going to change anything, it’ll just make it even more expensive for taxpayers to support graduating kids from public schools who can’t perform basic functions required of even the lowest skilled jobs.