Ohio Considers Paying Kids To Go To School

Ohio is having such a big problem getting kids to go to school that they are taking some desperate measures — they’re thinking about paying kids to attend.

A new proposed law in Ohio aimed to fight absenteeism would provide students as young as 5 years old with payments to attend.

If passed, the pilot program would give select students in kindergarten through ninth grade a $25 cash transfer every other week, as long as they attended classes for nine out of the 10 days over a two-week period.

In addition, any student who was able to have a 90% attendance rate for the entire year would receive $150 after each quarter, and then $700 when the school year is over.

Democratic state Representative Dani Isaacsohn, one of the bill’s sponsors, said that providing students with cash would serve as a solid incentive to reduce truancy. Absenteeism at schools in Ohio started to rise substantially even before the COVID-19 pandemic hit.

As Isaacsohn explained:

“We went from 15% pre-pandemic to over 31% in this most recent school year. That’s almost a third of our ninth graders that spend their first year of high school missing more than 10% of their school days. This is the number one issue we are facing in education.”

The bill is being proposed on a bipartisan basis, with state Representative Bill Seitz, a Republican, also being a sponsor. The state lawmaker recently told the Ohio House Primary and Secondary Education Committee that some other techniques they’ve used to try to motivate students to attend school haven’t worked thus far.

As he said:

“We’ve tried pizza day, and we have tried playground hours, and we have tried all kind of foo-foo stuff. It doesn’t seem to work. So, let us talk about the immediacy of a payment in cash. Cash is king. Cold, hard cash. In God we trust, all others pay cash.”

The pilot program has $1.5 million set aside for it, if it were to be approved. It would roll out in at least one district that’s urban in the state and one that’s rural, and would operate for both the fiscal years of 2024 and 2025.

The Columbus Dispatch reported that, under the program, students could also receive cash awards for graduating. Some schools would give students $250 if they graduated, and as much as $750 if they graduated with a high GPA.

The program would also create a control group, members of which wouldn’t receive cash for their attendance marks.

State lawmakers said that if the program proves to be successful at increasing attendance rates, it’s possible they could roll it out to all school districts in Ohio.

While the bill is bipartisan in nature, Republican state Representative Josh Williams isn’t behind it.

Williams didn’t graduate from high school and instead earned a GED. He said recently that he was all for coming up with new ways to reduce truancy, but that this bill simply goes too far.

He explained his side:

“Why are we going to pay kids to follow the law? We have laws in place that say, ‘You cannot skip school. You cannot be truant. You can be criminally charged and penalized.’

“Is this going to set a precedent for our young kids as young as kindergarten that we are going to pay you to abide by the laws moving forward?”