Should students be bribed into attending classes?

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Tyrades! by Danny Tyree

Are truancy officers about to get help in fighting absenteeism?

According to the New York Post, the Ohio legislature is considering a bipartisan pilot program that would make cash transfers to select kindergarten and ninth-grade students if they show up a whopping 90 percent of the time.

(One of my friends remarked that the $1.5 million project is called a pilot program because it makes as much sense as a beagle flying a WW I Sopwith Camel. But I digress.)

Schools have exhausted other methods of motivating students (year-round dunking machines showed promise, but principals balked when hydrochloric acid kept mysteriously disappearing from the chemistry lab), so the payment experiment is part of throwing things against the wall and seeing what sticks.

(“No, Bobby, we’re not going to pay you not to throw things against the wall.”)

I admire the good intentions of the legislators (and like-minded lawmakers in other states), but there are limitless ways for this to implode.

For starters, you realize, of course, that getting a reluctant student to darken the doorway of home room is just the first tentative step of having them participate, learn and truly earn a diploma.

Some cagey young entrepreneur will inevitably game the system with budget-busting add-ons. (“Now that I’m here, teacher, perhaps you would like to see our price list. I recommend our savory ‘walk single file/show your work’ combo platter.”)

These same entrepreneurs may draw inspiration from the existence of substitute teachers and delegate some responsibilities. (“No, you haven’t seen me before. I’m a substitute Caitlyn. We do a 70-30 split while she’s playing hooky.”)

Granted, pay-for-attendance may curtail some social justice controversies. (“Who cares what my pronoun is? Here’s my Cayman Islands routing number. That’s all I care about.”)

And at least disenchanted students will no longer have the old “When will I ever use the stuff they teach in school in real life?” lament. (“Can’t wait until I’m a surgeon and start negotiating about hanging around AFTER I open up the thoracic cavity! KA-CHING!”)

A sizable percentage of potential dropouts will inevitably decide that the payments are either irresistible or insultingly low. For the former, that could mean dragging themselves to school even when their medical condition makes it unwise. (“I was determined to deliver my big essay today, no matter what. Where is it, you ask? My plague-infested pet rat ate it.”)

As for students who become immune to the initial financial rewards, states and school districts may have to take drastic steps, involving property tax, pension funds and other resources. (“The wheels on the bus go ‘round and ‘round – even without fancy-schmancy new tires.”)

And let’s be realistic. Boredom, laziness and social awkwardness are not the only reasons students avoid school. Some come from a bad home environment and would not necessarily retain control of their attendance bonus. (“Mrs. Johnson, could the school board possibly swing letting me earn attendance points on weekends, too? Dad’s teen-age girlfriend really needs that boob job.”)

I wish school systems well going forward, but there will be animosity from generations of scholars who maintained near-perfect attendance with no reward other than a passing remark in the graduation line.

(“Okay, the young punks get half the money after displaying good attendance – and the other half after they walk five miles to and from school in snow, uphill both ways.”)

Copyright 2024 Danny Tyree, distributed by Cagle Cartoons newspaper syndicate.

Danny Tyree welcomes email responses at [email protected] and visits to his Facebook fan page “Tyree’s Tyrades.”

Controversial author Harlan Ellison once described the work of Danny Tyree as "wonkily extrapolative" and said Tyree's mind "works like a demented cuckoo clock."

Ellison was speaking primarily of Tyree’s 1983-2000 stint on the "Dan T’s Inferno" column for “Comics Buyer’s Guide” hobby magazine, but the description would also fit his weekly "Tyree’s Tyrades" column for mainstream newspapers.

Inspired by Dave Barry, Al "Li'l Abner" Capp, Lewis Grizzard, David Letterman, and "Saturday Night Live," "Tyree's Tyrades" has been taking a humorous look at politics and popular culture since 1998.

Tyree has written on topics as varied as, the Lincoln bicentennial, "Woodstock At 40," worm ranching, the Vatican conference on extraterrestrials, violent video games, synthetic meat, the decline of soap operas, robotic soldiers, the nation's first marijuana café, Sen. Joe Wilson’s "You lie!" outburst at President Obama, Internet addiction, "Is marriage obsolete?," electronic cigarettes, 8-minute sermons, early puberty, the Civil War sesquicentennial, Arizona's immigration law, the 50th anniversary of the Andy Griffith Show, armed teachers, "Are women smarter than men?," Archie Andrews' proposal to Veronica, 2012 and the Mayan calendar, ACLU school lawsuits, cutbacks at ABC News, and the 30th anniversary of the death of John Lennon.

Tyree generated a particular buzz on the Internet with his column spoofing real-life Christian nudist camps.

Most of the editors carrying "Tyree’s Tyrades" keep it firmly in place on the opinion page, but the column is very versatile. It can also anchor the lifestyles section or float throughout the paper.

Nancy Brewer, assistant editor of the "Lawrence County (TN) Advocate" says she "really appreciates" what Tyree contributes to the paper. Tyree has appeared in Tennesee newspapers continuously since 1998.

Tyree is a lifelong small-town southerner. He graduated from Middle Tennessee State University in 1982 with a bachelor's degree in Mass Communications. In addition to writing the weekly "Tyree’s Tyrades," he writes freelance articles for MegaBucks Marketing of Elkhart, Indiana.

Tyree wears many hats (but still falls back on that lame comb-over). He is a warehousing and communications specialist for his hometown farmers cooperative, a church deacon, a comic book collector, a husband (wife Melissa is a college biology teacher), and a late-in-life father. (Six-year-old son Gideon frequently pops up in the columns.)

Bringing the formerly self-syndicated "Tyree's Tyrades" to Cagle Cartoons is part of Tyree's mid-life crisis master plan. Look for things to get even crazier if you use his columns.