(BrightPress.org) – A new proposal to pay students to show up to class in Ohio is getting attention after post-pandemic absenteeism is on the rise in the state. The bill would offer families $500/year for every child between kindergarten and 9th grade who achieves 90% or higher in attendance. High school seniors would also be eligible to receive $250 upon graduation with potential bonuses of $750 on top of that for students who maintain GPAs at 3.0 or above.
The bill has bipartisan sponsorship from Democrat Dani Isaacsohn and Republican Bill Seitz, both from the Cincinnati metropolitan area. The bill will create a 2-year long pilot study costing taxpayers around $1.5 million which would attempt to determine if paying students can improve attendance.
Due to the experimental nature of the program, only the schools with the worst attendance rates would be eligible to participate. Seitz said the intention was to pick the worst offenders and see if the program would “move the needle,” or generate tangible results.
Absenteeism has been a major problem for public schools in Ohio, and around the nation, due to the fallout from the pandemic policies like mandatory lockdowns and school closures. Many warned that the damage being done to a generation of American schoolchildren would manifest down the line and this seems to be one of the outcomes.
Isaacsohn called the problem “the number one issue” for teachers and school administrators. He suggested that financial rewards and incentives can help nudge families back into maintaining regular attendance.
Roughly half of Columbus students tend to miss 10% or more of their classes. Nationally, just under 10% of all students K-12 were absent on a regular school day in the 2022-23 school year, per reporting from the New York Times.
Students were also harmed by the forced switch to remote learning during the pandemic, many students are behind or missed elaboration of key concepts that will be required for more advanced lessons.
Conservative Republicans criticized the bill suggesting we shouldn’t have to pay people to obey laws. Rep. Josh Williams asked if we’re going to start people to avoid committing other crimes, like assault or rape.
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