High School Students Face a Battle Between Paid Work, School Work
Juan Gallegos, Christian Placencia
Everybody is talking about “Bling! Bling!” It’s
everywhere you look: Nike, GAP, and J-Lo are trying
to sell you something. Some students are paying for it
with their grades. Whether it’s to pay for cars,
clothing, and jewelry, or to help out at home, the
reality is that some teens have to work. We talked to
100 Watsonville High students and found that 30% work.
That’s a lot of students working—but what’s the price
that they are really paying for looking good? Does
schoolwork suffer because of employment?
“It really depends on the student,” Ms.Viotti, a
counselor at Watsonville High, said. “To have a work
permit, there are certain criteria. You need to have
certain grades, no cuts, and not be behind in
credits.” But that doesn’t mean you have to be a good
student to get a permit. A 2.0 makes you eligible for
a work permit, and besides, you don’t need to maintain
a 2.0 to keep your permit, just have a 2.0 when you
apply for a permit.
“[Working] makes some students more disciplined about
doing school work,” a chemistry teacher at Watsonville
High, who asked to remain anonymous, said. “It teaches
them to budget their time. It might be hard but they
have no choice.” Yet this is the problem, some
students have no choice! They have to work to help
their family in times of need. According to the Census
Bureau, Watsonville has historically had the largest
number of low-income people in Santa Cruz County. More
people in Watsonville live below the federal poverty
line than anywhere else in the county.
According to our poll, students reported working an
average of 25 hours a week! Now, working this much
does have its advantages. Students get to learn time
management and get work experience, which will help
them out in their future workplace. The most tempting
reason why students have a job is financial
independence. Students get to buy all the things they
want without having their parents pay for them.
Yet having a job isn’t as much freedom as it sounds.
You have to listen to somebody all day and get paid
minimum wage! Is the financial independence you’re
getting worth your grades suffering and getting a job
nobody wants? Another thing is that students go to
school for seven hours. And still work an average of
four hours a day? That’s an 11 hour work day, and it
doesn’t even include homework!
Also take into account that Watsonville High has the
lowest SAT scores in Santa Cruz County (as shown by
the Santa Cruz Community Assessment Project). We also
know that Watsonville High has a very high drop-out
rate. Thanks to the Economic Return from Education in
Texas, we found out that students with a college
diploma make 75% more than students with only a high
school diploma. Imagine if you don’t even graduate
from high school. Your future salary could really
suffer. That’s why education is so important.
There are millions of teens working around the Unites
States—most of whom don’t know the price that they are
paying: their education. There are the teens that are
forced to work to help out at home. There is also a
lot of pressure on students to have the newest in
clothing and look very cool. That might be why many
teens want to work. Any way you look at it, students
shouldn’t be encouraged to miss out on their
education, especially in today’s world.