Should We Pay Kids to Go to School?

From the Washington Examiner:

The District is paying 305 students with poor academic and behavioral records to attend summer school, The Washington Examiner has learned.

The rising ninth-graders are earning $5.25 an hour to participate in the "Summer Bridge" program, which targets students identified by D.C. Public Schools as less likely than their peers to graduate high school within four years.

The 95 students who voluntarily signed up for the summer school program will receive half of an elective credit. But to fill the 400-student session with at-risk students, DCPS reached out to the Department of Employment Services. More than 300 students flagged by DCPS and who had signed up for the Summer Youth Employment Program were told that school would be their jobs this summer.

There are clearly very valid arguments in favor of and against this type of program. However to the extent that funds were already set aside for the Summer Bridge program, it makes sense to use them to try to get kids through school. The dividends will almost always be far higher for them, and society as a whole, if they graduate rather then get some work experience (though I am typically strongly in favor of teens working in the summer).

That said, the visceral reaction some people have to this scheme is quite understandable as it seems a bit off at the first reading. While I can fully comprehend this view (and go back and forth between agreeing with it and agreeing with the view noted above) I also believe that this is a particular set of circumstances in a particular urban area where a creative solution is warranted.

We will bring you more on this plan, and any others like it, it anything comes across my desktop. In the meantime, any thoughts from our readers would be appreciated in the comments section.

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