School Pays Kids
Cincinnati charter school experiments with paying students to attend class.
A charter high school in Cincinnati will begin paying students this week as part of an experiment to get more students to attend class.
Dohn Community High School principal Ramone Davenport said students who are on time every day, avoid trouble and show they're working in class will get Visa gift cards worth $25 for seniors and $10 for younger students.
"Each time a student gets paid, we take $5 and put it into a savings account so when that student graduates, they will graduate with some type of funds," Davenport said.
A combination of private donations and federal dollars will fund the estimated $40,000 cost this year.
Davenport acknowledges critics but says it's an attempt to boost attendance and graduation rates when grades don't prove to be enough of an incentive.
"This is a community program, so if there are students that are out here, just hanging out on the streets, we want to encourage them to come to school," he said.
That's not an issue for single mom Bethanie Nicholson, who said she attends class regardless of reward. But it helps.
"Every kid wakes up in the morning and says, 'This is job, why am I not getting paid?' and I'm getting paid now," she said. "Getting paid to come to school, it's every kids dream. It really is!"
"This little bit of support and incentive to make sure they stay engaged and stick to the race to the end is just hopefully what it will take to get them to get that diploma," youth services director Debbie Smith said.