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Go to Class, Get a Car?

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One school gives student a Dodge Caliber...just for showing up.

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Say what? A Chicago public school awarded student Ashley Martinez with a brand new $17,500 Dodge Caliber for having a flawless attendance record during two 3-month periods. Even more bizarre: Ashley is only 12 years old. Get out of Dodge!

Frank Shuftan, a spokesman for the Chicago Public School System, says the school awarded Ashley the car as part of a plan to boost classroom attendance, which has leveled off at 91% over the last few years. He also says incentives such as cars (or vacations, computers, and iPods) are part of the school's plan to generate general student enthusiasm.

"Perfect attendance means having a good education, and you'll have a better future," says Ashley.

By attending school every day in any one of three 3-month periods, 189,115 students were eligible for a chance at the car, reports the Chicago Tribune. Ashley had perfect attendance for two of those periods. Of those eligible, about 150 names were randomly selected, and those students and parents were invited to a car dealership to put a key in the ignition and see if the car would start.

Since Ashley will have to wait four years to drive the car, for the time being, her parents get to enjoy the ride.

"The school is setting a very bad example," says family counselor Roseanne Toby, L.P.C. "Kids shouldn't be rewarded for things they're supposed to be doing anyway. What's more, when we overindulge children for giving the bare minimum, it will be difficult for them to reach higher in life. This is just not how life works."

Tell us what you think: Should kids be rewarded for doing things they are supposed to do? Would you allow your child to accept such an expensive and grownup gift?


next: Punished for Autism?
8 comments so far | Post a comment now
Georgia June 27, 2008, 2:31 PM

I totally agree… these kids are doing what they are supposed to be doing, why are they being rewarded? Plus, this could encourage kids to go to school when they really shouldn’t be there, for instance if they are sick. At times like these kids should stay home, to both recover and prevent other students from getting sick.

And a car for a 12-year old? Rediculous.

April June 27, 2008, 2:47 PM

Sounds stupid to me. Not to mention, this in no way prepares these kids for the real world. Are they going to expect a reward for showing up to their college classes? Are they going to expect a reward for showing up to work every day?

Lindy June 27, 2008, 4:17 PM

I agree 100% with Georgia and April.

Dee June 27, 2008, 4:35 PM

I think it is great to reward the kids for good work. If you get a car for just showing up, what are they giving the kids with straight “A”s? I think movie tickets, books, CDs, etc might be more in line for this reward.

Lori July 10, 2008, 1:16 PM

That’s ridiculous! They should give prizes (if at all) that would enhance the student’s education, i.e. laptop, graphing calculators, educational software, etc.

Amy March 26, 2009, 1:56 PM

Wait, Georgia, you don’t get rewarded for going to work?? Really?? No paycheck at the end of a week or two? No-one ever saying ‘job well done’? I don’t think I’d want to work where you work, then. While I agree that a car may be a bit over the top, I also feel that a pat on the back for a job well done is not out of bounds. Ever get an allowance for doing your chores as a child? I say, whatever gets the kids to go to school is a good thing.

taylor March 26, 2009, 9:56 PM

Amy, you are ridiculous.

The money you get paid for going to work is the education you receive from going to school. This is like banking CEOs getting huge bonuses for doing what they’re supposed to be doing anyway, and they are doing a horrible job at it. The article didn’t even mention Ashley’s grades. Why should she deserve the car for doing what she was supposed to do anyway? I had flawless attendance in high school and my school never gave me anything but a very good education, and that is all I needed from them.

Also, I find it very offensive to bring in something like an allowance. Why would you give a child allowance for doing chores, if they are something a child should be doing anyway? And what about families who can’t afford to pay an allowance? I know mine never did. I grew up with people whose parents were beyond rich and never gave their child a single dime they didn’t work hard to earn.. and I knew kids who were given allowances and never learned the value of a dollar.

Sure give them a pat on the back for going to school. “[…] whatever gets the kids to go to school is a good thing.” Shouldn’t a simple “wake up, it’s time to get ready for school” be incentive enough to go to school? Children shouldn’t be so grossly over-rewarded for doing something they should have been doing anyways.

In my opinion, the gift of a car at twelve years old was extremely stupid. It isn’t even a gift to her, it’s a gift to her parents. I’m sure the 17.5k could have been used on something more beneficial to all students. Now all these students are going to want to come to school in hopes of winning a car, which in reality, should be totally unattainable.

I think whomever had the idea to waste that kind of money on a car for a twelve year old is extremely under qualified to be working in any kind of business/administration/finance.

gloria January 19, 2010, 5:01 PM

I think incentives are a great way to get anyone to do anything. Think about it, as adults, what is our incentive to get up everyday and work? Our salary! For people to say that giving kids incentives does not prepare them for the real world are not living on planet earth!
Whats you’re incentive!


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