Should students be paid to go to class?


For Giovanny Orozco, school comes first. Unfortunately, it's a priority that can collide with the reality of finances. Like so many kids, Orozco struggles to juggle going to school and earning money.

"Where we live, it's hard for us, so getting paid to come to school is great," Orozco said.

Paying students to go to tutorials is a new incentive proposed by HISD.

"That's the best thing that can happen because, also, you'll be going to learn, but you'll be getting paid for it and you can't beat that," student DeMarcus Johnson said.

Right now, Jones High School is one of 20 schools in jeopardy for being closed by the state for low academic performance. Also on the list are Lee, Kashmere and Sharpstown high schools, as well as Fondren, Dowling, Key, Attucks and Ryan middle schools.

"Saturdays nobody wants to come to school because they have a lot going on as far as jobs and other activities," student Sharkae Washington said.

The plan is to have students in the low-performing schools go to tutorials two Saturdays a month for about 4 hours, with HISD providing lunch. A sponsor would provide the money, about $8 an hour to the student.

"We're willing to try just about anything, yes," HISD Spokesman Norm Uhl said.

Paying students to go to summer tutorials is just part of the plan to turn around low-performing schools. Students can expect the possibility of an extended school day and one hour a day tutoring Monday through Friday.

Saturday tutorials would be optional; however, in the past, it's been an option kids at Jones have opted out.

"We actually gave away bicycles every weekend, and we had some students to show up," Jones High School Principal Yvette Blake said, "but certainly not what we needed to have."

Besides increasing Saturday attendance, there is another expected result.

"They're in it for the money, yes, but then they'll learn something, and then they'll just start coming to learn," student Marcus Kennard.

While the plans are still being worked on, the money to pay for it will come from state and federal funds. HISD is looking for corporate sponsors and foundations to pay the students.

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