The AP reported today what may turn out to be very good news for high school students looking for work. Locally, jobs are hard to come by if you happen to be a teenager; Katrina, a close friend of our family has been looking diligently for work for the past few months, to no avail. But if the new "Learn & Earn" program being promoted by former House Speaker, Newt Gingrich (a Republican, I'm embarrassed to say), in Georgia works, perhaps she'll secure an ongoing income.
As long as she's not doing too well in school.
There's only one qualification for participating in the program: you must be underperforming in math and science.
You heard right: underperforming. As in, a C or D, or perhaps even an F. If you can demonstrate that you're doing poorly in those subjects, you qualify for participation in a program where you're paid $8 per hour to study, and assuming you increase your grade in those subjects to a B, you'll get another $115 as a bonus.
This in a state where the minimum wage is a repressed $5.85 per hour, and the average hourly income is approximately $11 per hour.
The program is aimed at boosting students' motivation to learn and attend classes. Jackie Cushman, Gingrich's daughter, and his partner in the pilot project, said, "We want to try something new. We're trying to figure out what works. Is it the answer? No. Is it a possible idea that might work? Yes."
It won't be long before a new Student's Labor Union is formed, and annual collective bargaining agreements are reached, contracting for new, higher pay rates for underperforming students.
Absurd, I know, but no more absurd that paying students--no, BRIBING students--to pay attention and to get good grades. Isn't it enough that we provide a free education for all children, through high school? Most kids even receive a free lunch, at least through elementary school. Now we're bribing them into taking advantage of the opportunities that we've extended, but they're too narrow-minded (or perhaps foolish) to take full advantage of.
Meanwhile, poor Katrina sits here in Kerman, hoping for a call back from the new Carl's Jr that'll be opening in a few weeks. Because she's out of luck; she doesn't qualify for the "Learn & Earn" program because she's actually doing well in school. She attends class, works hard, and is passing her courses.
It's not too late, though. Perhaps she can fail a few courses. $8 an hour isn't bad money!
(Here's a plug for Katrina: she's a brilliant, hard-working young lady. Email me if you have local work for her; I'll pass it along. I guarantee you, you'll be far happier than you'll be with any single graduate of the "Learn & Earn" program!)