Children are taught that appropriate behavior is to be expected of them, and that misbehaving comes with consequences. However, one liberal school principal is teaching her students the opposite, and that they should be rewarded for not behaving badly, specifically getting into fights.
Principal of Mitchell Elementary School in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Stephanie Andrewlevich, announced that she would personally grant each eighth-grade student $100 for not getting into physical fights during the school year. She will take the funds from her personal bank account, if necessary, which will cost $3,300 if every one of the 33 eighth-graders can complete the challenge.
However, the bribe also takes on a socialistic approach, as all the students are required to make it to the end of the year without fighting for anyone to be awarded the $100.
Andrewlevich clams that since she became principal there has been “a drop in fights,” making her idea even more absurd.
She claims that the bribe will reduce fighting even further, despite inappropriately sending students to high school the following year having just been paid to not fight.
Supporters of the liberal policy claim that it is backed by Harvard research which encourages paying children for doing things that they should anyway.
Researcher for the Education Innovation Laboratory, Brad Allen continues that “well-designed incentives can make a difference in schools.” He admitted that none of the related studies which he has overseen have referenced cash and fighting but is still in favor of Andrewlevich’s idea.
Andrewlevich claims that the challenge is fitting for the Philadelphia school, which is said to be on “a particularly tough corner.”
Most of the students live in poverty and many do not have proper parental guidance. She said that homelessness is not uncommon.
At one point, fights were not an unusual occurrence, and an overwhelming percentage of the student population has “been suspended at least once.”
One student even confessed that his peers often tell him “You should be fighting,” attributing poverty to violence.
The school is in an admittedly impoverished neighborhood, as a shooting occurred across the street from the school just last month. Disturbingly, many students were not shocked or scared by the attack, as if it were a normal occurrence.
Fortunately, the students have been encouraging one another to refrain from fighting at school, last week celebrating 70 days of nonviolence since the challenge began, often reminding one another, “Don’t mess up my $100!”
Andrewlevich is giving the impression that the problem is being solved within her school, as she has successfully done before with students struggling with absences or reading. However, she is being undeniably selfish by using bribery to force students to get along, while failing to guide them on how to do so outside of school.
By creating such a challenge, she is also doing the students a detrimental disservice, especially if they are already facing economic or domestic challenges outside of school.
Andrewlevich explains that she came up with the idea upon observing a group of soon-to-be-graduating students who were getting along and supporting one another. Months later, she noticed that teenagers in the community were getting into legal trouble, including drugs and violence.
This indicated to her that schools were not preparing students for life outside of the classroom and that something had to be done about it. However, the program is only likely to be a short-term success.
What then will happen if one or more students ruin the streak and everyone loses out on their share of $3,300? With money as the only previous incentive, potentially violent students may see no reason to refrain from fighting, as they had to be bribed to not do so before.
The school will further liberalize its climate by creating a ‘safe space’ “Peaceful Place” where students can go to “cool down and practice conflict-resolution techniques.”
All of Mitchell Elementary School’s principal’s supposedly ‘brilliant’ ideas are making students accustomed to an environment where nonviolence is rewarded, instead of peaceful behavior being the norm.
Andrewlevich’s plans are undeniably insulting, as she is essentially labeling her student’s as ‘fighters,’ when that may only be true for some students, likely repeat offenders. Many may be able to hold off becoming involved in altercations, however, it can be expected that some may resort back to violent ways upon graduating from Mitchell, believing themselves to be criminals.
If this occurs, hopefully it will not take long to see a correlation between students who graduated from the school, and the bribery policy will be abolished.