Ethics Bulletin To Camden, New Jersey: Money Isn’t The Solution To Everything

Just pay him to come to school, and he'll be a model student. No, really!

It’s not that surprising that the people who run the city of Camden think that money is the panacea to every problem. After all, that is the predominant message sent by our leaders in Washington, the media and the popular culture. Still, Camden’s new policy of  rewarding selected high school students $100 each to go to school in the first three weeks of the year displays ethical obtuseness rare even for school systems.

The idea is to fight truancy with a new program called I Can End Truancy (ICE-T). To receive their promised C-note, each of 66 targeted students must attend classes as well as conflict-resolution and anger-management workshops for the first three weeks of school. “We had talked about it [truancy] for a long time,” Camden Mayor Dana Redd told reporters. “We wanted to come up with an innovative model.” The required state minimum attendance rate is 90 percent, and Camden is threatening to miss it. After all, it’s the statistics that count, not whether the students actually pay attention in school, or learn anything. If this plan doesn’t work, presumably Camden will bring the required number of children to school at gunpoint, and drug them unconscious until the bell sounds.

If it does work, however (meaning that Camden meets its truancy minimum, not that its students actually learn anything), we can expect similar initiatives in Camden, like paying its top 66 tax evaders to file a return, or paying its top 66 muggers to lay off for the first three weeks of the mugging season.

I wonder what the runner-up plan was, since the criteria had to be “dumbest, most counter productive anti-truancy plan on the face of the earth.” Hiding recreational drugs in the school lockers, perhaps? Giving free lap-dances to the boys who checked-in, and free, well, whatever it is that’s the equivalent of a lap dance to the girls? Could there be a worse idea?

The students with a history of skipping school are rewarded for doing what they are legally required to do, while the responsible, motivated kids get nothing but the satisfaction of fulfilling their obligations knowing that they are working hard, and the knowledge that the trouble-making students who have refused to do any of that are getting a bonus.

Brilliant! I wonder why those truant kids don’t think it’s worth their time to listen to these people.

Critics say the plan “sends the wrong message,” but they are mistaken: the plan sends lots of wrong messages. Let’s just hit the low points:

Message: “You’re a sap to do what you are supposed to do, because not doing it gets attention and cash.”

Message: “Never do the right thing without personal gain. If you don’t come out ahead, it’s the wrong thing.”

Message: “What matters is appearances, not substance. As long as you show up for school and count against truancy statistics, it doesn’t matter what you do there.”

Message: “Money is the best means of persuasion.”

Message: “Bribery works.”

Message: “Duty, accountability, responsibility and self-motivation are for dopes.”

Message: “The #1 rule of life is ‘Show me the money!”

Message: “The people in charge of the Camden government and  schools are desperate fools.”

At least one of those messages is worth learning..

4 thoughts on “Ethics Bulletin To Camden, New Jersey: Money Isn’t The Solution To Everything

  1. I live very close to Camden and sometimes volunteer there. I hadn’t heard about this yet. I think I’m going to write a strongly-worded letter to the editor of my local paper or something. I know it won’t make a difference though. This is what schools throughout the country have become. Make the stats look good at all costs. There are no consequences for the kids. They can do and learn absolutely nothing, but the teachers grade them on ridiculous curves and award them obscene amounts of grade points just for showing up. With the collective intelligence and work ethic ever-falling and the corporations sending the remainder of decent jobs overseas, this will be a third-world country in no time.

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