Time to End “Pay-To-Play” in PWCS
Toilet paper, hand sanitizer, Kleenex and poster board – what do these have to do with academic success in high school?
A lot more than you may think for children in PWCS. To cope with the effects of budget cuts resulting in things like increased class sizes and lack of textbooks for students, our teachers have been forced to beg for basic school supplies. One rather shocking tactic – earn extra credit if you bring in supplies your teacher needs. And this isn’t supplies just for your child like a scientific calculator or a T-Square – it’s stuff like copier paper, toilet paper, and paper towels.
Most of us have become accustomed to our elementary teachers begging for supplies. I know one parent who made a habit of checking her teacher’s paper stocks to make sure she had enough on hand, and buying extra when the teacher was running low. And we’ve all noticed that the wish lists no longer include books or games but reams of paper and coloring supplies.
But in High School it takes on a whole new twist with “Pay for Play”. Bring that box of printer paper or set of highlighter pens in to school and earn academic “extra credit” for your aspiring scholar in Algebra, Physics, or US History studies! And what’s wrong with that – an easy “A”, a free pass on that first English essay, or 50 additional points on the Geometry homework – hey, the competition’s fierce and we all want our kids to have that “edge” over their peers, right?
At one local high school the total cost of buying every extra credit offered would be $100 or more. Some parents won’t flinch at that cost and will do whatever is necessary to help their child succeed – $100 is less than it costs for tickets to a Redskins football game, after all.
Except… parents and school officials ought to be outraged. Extra credit for those who can pay for it? Education is supposed to offer all children a way ahead without discrimination. With competition as fierce as it is, especially in the northern counties where quotas make entry into state funded colleges even more competitive, every grade counts and extra credit can be the difference between getting an A and getting a B. When earning that extra credit hinges on your parents ability to afford supplies for your teacher, you gotta wonder how kids who already have it tough can compete.
Awarding extra academic credit for extra academic performance is fine. Giving those children who are driven to succeed an opportunity to go that extra mile through extra personal achievement or providing kids who have stumbled a chance to make up for that blown assignment through their own extra effort, is a wonderful way to build character and teach children about the value of hard work.
But turning the extra credit concept into a “Pay-to-Play” grades for donations scheme is inexcusable in our public schools.
By tacitly – if not actively – condoning these “Pay-to-Play” activities not only does PWCS distort academic integrity in our schools but also takes advantage of those families who can least afford such payoffs, particularly in these tough economic times. It’s time to end this nonsense.
Click here to contact your school board member.