ABCs to ATMs - The Case for Paying Students to Learn

Chapter 12: The Ripple Effect: Homes and Communities

The Economics of Transformation

The introduction of the Outstanda model doesn’t just stop at the school’s doorstep—it echoes through homes and reverberates across communities. This chapter delves into the transformative economic and social impact of this educational paradigm on families and neighborhoods.

Changing Household Dynamics: A New Perspective on Education

When students bring home not just grades but actual income, the entire household dynamic shifts. Parents become more engaged in their children’s education, understanding that academic success now has immediate, tangible benefits. This heightened interest at home fosters a nurturing environment conducive to academic excellence.

It is important to note here that students have access to a portion of their earnings while another portion is saved until they reach 18 years of age. This allows for immediate gratification and also a nest egg for when they become an adult.

Economic Impact: Revitalizing Local Economies

Suppose each student earns an average of $3,000 per year through learning gigs. In a community of 1,000 students, that translates to $3 million potentially pumped into the local economy. 

  1. Retail and Services: A percentage of these earnings will flow into local businesses, from grocery stores to clothing shops, leading to increased revenue and the potential for job creation.
  1. Real Estate: Increased income levels and improved community engagement can lead to higher property values, thus boosting property tax revenues for further community development and making homes grow in value for their owners.

Breaking the Cycle: Impact on Substance Abuse and Homelessness

The financial stability offered by the Outstanda model can serve as a protective factor against the vulnerabilities that often lead to drug and alcohol abuse. Furthermore, the sense of self-worth and achievement gained through academic success can serve as a strong deterrent against such destructive behaviors.

Self-esteem is important to staying employed and not falling into substance abuse. Outstanda is designed to improve self-esteem with frequent micro-assessments that can be passed by anyone who studies. Frequent positive reinforcement coupled with valuing someone’s work with pay I believe will lead to a significant reduction in serious social problems.

A Catalyst for Job Creation

More money circulating in local businesses means more job opportunities for adults. This has a positive feedback loop: when parents have stable employment, it further stabilizes the home environment, reinforcing the value of education and hard work.

Addressing Homelessness and Crime: A New Preventative Measure

When families have more disposable income and access to job opportunities, the risk of homelessness and criminal behavior dramatically decreases. By tackling the issue at its roots, the Outstanda model acts as a preventive measure against these social ailments.

One important aspect is that Oustanda is open to all ages. If someone is homeless and an organization is willing to sponsor their learning, such as a homeless shelter or a religious organization, those people can study and earn by passing assessments. Prisoners can also study while incarcerated and have the money available when they are released, decreasing the chance of recidivism.  

People can earn more if they stay clean, keep focused, and work. This leads to increased work ethic, sobriety, education, and financial resources. 

While nothing is a cure-all, this can have a lasting and significant impact on many people who would otherwise not have a clear way out of their dilemma. 

Beyond the Classroom Walls

The Outstanda model is not just an educational reform; it’s a social reform. It enriches not only the students but also their families and communities. By transforming how we approach education, we’re building a stronger, more resilient society—one that not only educates its youth but also empowers them to uplift their communities.

Student Perspective

Kyra, Senior, Public School in Pittsburgh, PA

Do you think students should be paid to learn? Explain why.

I think that if students were paid to learn they would be more likely to go to school and do schoolwork. From somebody who worked 5 nights a week, I would be able to work less and focus more on school.

If you made more than $3,000 per year learning, how would it change your school experience?

I would have worked less, and possibly been more into after school activities and clubs.

How would your family be impacted if you and each brother and sister were making money going to school?

I think my family would be more happy to have kids making this money, because they might see their kids more, because they would work less.

If you graduated from high school and had access to a savings account that had $10,000 in it, what do you think you would do with the money?

I think I would keep it in a savings account and work on putting more money into it.

Tell a true story about a time in your life when having $500 would have helped you a lot.

Having $500 would have helped me a lot when I was working five nights a week all school year from 3pm-10:30pm.

When students are paid to learn, everyone in the community profits.

Ron McDaniel

Founder, Outstanda

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Ron McDaniel
Author of “ABCs to ATMs”
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