Incentive Extinct

Outlook High School

By Danny M.(Grade 11)

After many years of poor attendance and organised "skip days" at Outlook High School, we finally got a principal at our school with an idea for an incentive program designed to improve attendance at our school.

The goal was to encourage good attendance so students would earn an exemption from writing one final exam per semester. The initial program had some flaws, but a committee revamped it to suit the majority or our student body. Some students with ongoing medical conditions might miss out on this chance because of frequent trips to the doctors, but the revision catered to the vast majority of the students. I think an incentive that benefits the majority is very worthwhile. There were other conditions a student had to meet to earn this exemption. They had to display good behaviour and have passing grades in that subject as well. Many students who are not in the upper percentile of marks do not get any recognition for their efforts even though they are trying hard, so I think the incentive was a good thing for these students, as well as for the top academic students. It gave them a goal to strive for that was well within reach of any student who put in a good effort.

Then, there was an objection from one family who did not like this incentive program because their daughter fell into the category of the students who missed too many classes - in her case, because of a health condition. For this reason they felt their daughter was being discriminated against and filed a complaint, with the Saskatchewan Human Rights Commission. While the claim is being processed (it could take up to two years), the School Board has suspended the incentive program. As soon as the program was dropped, so did the attendance at our school.

I would like to know how one family, which does not now have any children in school, can have a program which benefits the majority shut down. I thought that maybe a vote should have been taken and the results considered by a committee of students, staff and parents. These people should have been the ones to make the decision. Is that not the way a democracy works?

Students can only do well if they attend classes regularly. Already attendance is dropping off. There are rumours of skip days. If students do it, what are the teachers going to do? Give us detention? I figure that at a school, decisions must be reached on the basis of what is best for the majority of the students.

If you would like to make your opinions known, write to the Human Rights Commission:

    Human Rights Commission
    Donna Scott, Chief Commissioner
    8th Floor
    122 - 3rd Ave. North
    S7K 2H6

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