After the Times and Post disclosed on March 8 that some tutoring companies (notably Platform Learning and Newton Learning) were paying off principals and teachers (and in some cases kids) in some schools in NYC to increase SES attendance, there was a lot of buzz around my school. A lot of the teachers (some who worked for those companies) expressed their misgivings with programs that basically bribe kids to come to tutoring. And it seemed like the DOE wasn't happy these practices, even though they weren't technically illegal.
Anyway, Platform announced a pizza party and a raffle for an IPod yesterday for kids that actually attend the program (very few have been coming), and a bunch of kids signed up. I think it sends the wrong message when companies pay kids to come to their program. Most kids at my school need individual help, and they know it. Whenever I can sit down with a kid one-on-one to work on something after school, almost every kid responds well and works hard to understand their homework, including the kids that teachers have written off. The fact that kids need to be bribed to attend free tutoring shows that SES isn't teaching the kids anything. A number of kids in my program signed up for Newton Learning at the beginning of the year to win $100, but stopped going after a few sessions because it was so boring. And this is going to happen to Platform in a few weeks. Policymakers really need to sit down and think about changing how SES is run (more oversight of these companies would be a great start) because what is happening now just isn't working.