Is Chicago Bribing Parents To Do Their Job?
Chicago public schools offering $25 Walgreens cards for school visits.
Remember those days when you had to be bribed into getting good grades?
Don't front. You didn't care that you were getting D's and U's on your report card at first. But when they put free McDonald's French fries and extra PE time into the equation, getting A's and B's became a priority.
Fast forward a couple of generations later, it's not children who have to be bribed into getting good grades. Their parents, however? That's a different story.
The plight of Chicago's widely-reported failing school system may have hit its lowest point this year when teachers went on strike in September, not only postponing the start of the school year, but leaving 350,000 students with no classes for nearly two weeks. Teachers complained about wages, as well as voiced concerns about violence on campus and the lack of parental involvement.
In response to those complaints, Mayor Rahm Emanuel has engineered a program that he hopes will at least help solve one of them and potentially create a domino effect to knock out the others.
In what's being called a "public-private partnership," 70 Chicago public schools are partnering with Walgreens for a program where parents will be rewarded with $25 Walgreens "Balance Rewards" cards for coming to their child's school to personally pick up report cards and participate in PTA meetings.
[Also Read: Who Cares About The Kids Of Chi-Town?]
Just in case you didn't get that, the Chicago Public School system is using $25 Walgreens gift cards to lure (or bribe) parents to come to their child's school, pick up their report cards and talk to their teachers.
So all it takes for a parent to care about his or her own child's academic performance is a $25 gift card to use on deodorant, cough drops, a magazine and some Vitamin Water? Looks like it.
"The success of a student is supported by three pillars: a principal who is held accountable for that success, a teacher who is committed to that success, and, most importantly, a parent who is involved at home,” said Mayor Emanuel. “We are opening the doors so that our parents can get involved, as well as providing the information they need on how their schools measure up so they can stay involved. This partnership is a creative way to explore ways to achieve this goal.”
According to the press release describing the program:
During Report Card Pick-Up Day, parents not only receive their students’ report cards; they tour their school, visit classrooms, and participate in parent-teacher conferences where they learn more about their children’s performance in different subjects, if improvement is needed and what they as parents can do to help their children succeed academically[...]
[...]The 70 schools in this pilot program were chosen based on their low record of successful parent engagement, measured in part by their “5 Essentials” rating, which is an evidence-based system that uses student and teachers surveys to assess level of parental involvement. Walgreen Co. has committed to providing support for this pilot throughout this school year and CPS will collect, track and analyze the data on parent participation through this pilot to determine the its effectiveness.
While there can be many reasons for parents skipping their child's parent-teacher conference -- work obligations, discomfort in a school setting -- essentially, what Chicago public schools is saying is that the parent-teacher relationship in dozens of schools citywide has dwindled to the point that parents have to be baited into being, well, parents. And at a cheap price at that. Let's at least hope that the parents will use the gift cards to buy school supplies for their children to do homework with.
If the program doesn't prove to be effective, it will end and parents will no longer be given $25 gift cards, no longer giving parents an incentive to be -- parents.
A good idea? What do you think? Tell us in the comments.