Paid to learn: Tutoring in Ohio - 13abc.com Toledo (OH) News, Weather and Sports

Paid to learn: Tutoring in Ohio

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TOLEDO, Ohio -

A program that claims to pay kids to learn is at the center of a 13abc I-Team Investigation.  Local kids are getting tax payer money to participate in a tutoring program, but is this program accountable?

It's called the Supplemental Education Services.  It's basically tutoring but not inside an actual school building.  It's a big business. 

Here's how it breaks down for Toledo Public Schools:  Every TPS K-8 school is eligible.  There are 41 private tutoring programs that TPS contracts with.  They're able to service just around 2550 kids.  TPS gets 8000 applications to get into these programs.

The money for this program is pretty big too.  Each provider gets $1688 per student for tutoring.  It's a big money program that some parents have some serious questions about. 

Jeanene Flowers said she and her son Mikey Black were sitting outside their East Toledo home, when someone going door to door came up to them with a question. 

"They had asked if I had kids that were in elementary, if they wanted to start tutoring and that if they started the tutoring program they would give them $100 cash when they finished the tutoring program," said Flowers, a TPS parent. 

"It was kind of fun because I had some friends that went to school there too," said Black.

Mikey liked the program, but when it ended there was a problem.  He didn't get his money. 

"I was gonna spend it on a video game or a controller," said Black. 

"She said wait about three of four weeks and he should be getting his reward prize claim or whatever and nothing ever came about it.  He kept pestering me to call her up and ask what was going on," said Flowers. 

So when mom asked, the number she was to call was disconnected.  Tutoring ended in February and into May Mikey had no money.

Mikey's tutoring program was part of a program called Supplemental Educational services.  It's all part of the No Child Left Behind act.  By law, Toledo Public Schools must spend 20% of its Title One dollars, which come from the federal government, on this SES program.  This school year that's about $19 million. 

"Those are federal dollars that we want to make sure are getting spent as they need to be, that this program is really improving the education of students," said Betsey Murry, the director of compensatory programs for TPS. 

She's in change of the department that monitors all 41 independent tutoring programs. 

"If those dollars are here from the federal government, we've got to make these people accountable," said Murry. 

They do that through site visits and talking with parents and students about their experiences at the tutoring location.   The money that's supposed to come to students is not coming from TPS.  The district is essentially the "middle man."   So we asked if paying kids money to learn a good idea? 

"No, not at all to pay the kids.  It's six to one half a dozen to another to as far as are these providers actually paying them to complete the program or are they paying them to sign up. We've had issues that we've to intensely go out an investigate, how did the student get the money?"

We take a look at how Mikey's story ends tomorrow night. 

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