Home > fatherhood > Parenting and education #2 – Ay, Yo be a father (for a $25 gift card?!?!)

Parenting and education #2 – Ay, Yo be a father (for a $25 gift card?!?!)

Sometimes, parents will give kids small rewards for earning good grades.  I’ve heard of an ice cream sundae for making the honor roll, $5 for every A, things like that.  But what about a reward for parents who agree to meet their child’s teacher in person to discuss the report card, something they should presumably be doing anyway?

At the beginning of the school year I wrote about Chicago’s teacher strike and now I have another reason to write about Chicago Public Schools.   CPS is in the news again, for a different but equally controversial topic.  A partnership between Walgreens and the city of Chicago has been formed, and at 70 schools, parents will be given a Walgreens “Balance Reward” card with a free $25 preloaded on it. According to the article, it seems neither the city nor Walgreens is saying how much the company invested in the program, and Walgreens gets the direct benefit of having the families who receive the gift card be automatically enrolled in their reward card program, which they are light years behind CVS in establishing.

On the surface are two different sides to the argument.  One, on the surface it seems that this is a good example of a corporate/public partnership.  Walgreens is sponsoring this program after having already have supported educational missions in the past.  For Chicago, they have targeted the schools with the lowest parental involvement and are hoping that this program will be the first step to get parents in the door, and ultimately increase parental involvement, something that we all know from plenty of studies is essential for students and schools to be successful.  I have experience working in schools, and I know the challenge of trying to engage parents.  If this will make even 1% of the parents who participate in the program more involved in the long run, then maybe it’s worth the charade.  It’s a sad day when it has to come to something like this, but maybe it just does in some cases.

On the other side of the argument are those who feel this program is nothing more than a blatant and blasphemous bribe for parents who should be participating because they care about their child(ren)’s education and not because they want a free $25.  Legitimate questions can be asked about how genuine the parents’ interest is if they weren’t coming in the door before, but are coming in now for this, or why those who aren’t participating are suddenly getting a reward for something plenty of other parents are doing anyway.  Those are difficult things to disagree with.

So where do I stand?  I’m for almost anything that will spark parent involvement, but not this.  What swings my opinion toward the “against” stance is something I haven’t seen addressed anywhere else yet.  To me there’s the ethical question of Walgreens being allowed to do this, even for a perk to the schools and families.  I’m sure we’d all be more than happy with a straight corporate donation from Walgreens to CPS that could be used however CPS wanted to; for textbooks, computers, school improvements, new programs, etc.  But there’s something disingenuous about the way this will go, with the parents who receive the rewards card also signing up to be part of Walgreen’s program and, according to the article I cited, provide Walgreens with marketing data.  To me, the city of Chicago shouldn’t be so directly auctioning off the data of it’s citizens to whoever might be a bidder via their public schools.

If you’ve made it through this entire post and have an opinion of your own, I’d love to see some comments on this one…

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