Paid to learn: What parents need to watch out for - Toledo (OH) News, Weather and Sports

Paid to learn: Why parents need to watch out

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TOLEDO, Ohio -

Parents have a choice and need to keep watch on a state program that pays your child to learn, money that comes from your pocket.  It's part two of a 13abc I-Team investigation.

It's called Supplemental Education Services program. It's a tutoring program but not administered inside any school building.  It's also a program that is tough to monitor.

There are plenty of providers in the program who are doing everything right, and parents should find out if one works for them and their child.  But keeping the programs accountable is clearly a challenge, a challenge that involves your tax money. 

As Birmingham 5th grader Mikey Black waited for his money after completing one of these tutoring programs, 13abc wanted to know how they are monitored, especially since each program that works with Toledo Public Schools gets $1,688 per student to tutor them.  That money comes from federal tax dollars.  Each student is rewarded for completing the program. 

"A provider is allowed to offer an incentive if the student completes their program, they've gone through all the tutoring hours,  that is completely legal.  It cannot be over $50," said Betsey Murry, TPS Director of Compensatory Services.

From part one of our I-Team investigation, Mikey's mother says he was offered $100.  So what does the state say about a program that in some cases offers close to $2000 per kid for tutoring? 13abc asked the Ohio Department of Education. 

When the I-Team asked for an interview on the program, here's the email response we got:  '"We want to table this until we know we have our approval for the waiver for No Child left Behind. At that time we will have much more to provide you and to the public on the future of the tutoring opportunities for Ohio students, etc."

"They're getting paid through someone, but I don't want them using my kid to get paid on when they didn't live up to their end of the bargain with him," said TPS parent and Mikey's mom Jeanene Flowers. 

"Paying the student to tutor is not going to be the most effective way, we'd rather see a good quality research based tutoring program where that tutor provider is progress monitoring and showing growth," said Murry. 

But TPS does not have the resources to monitor every tutoring program everyday to make sure the $1688 are spend on kids.  TPS has its own tutoring programs, the ones through SES are separate from the district.  They can offer transportation, even a snack. 

"There are some very good providers out there that we're very impressed with, then there are others we've had to report to the state," said Murry.    

Which they did in 2011, when Fresh Start Academy was shut down.  According to a report from the district, Fresh Start was accused of forging documents.  They are no longer an approved provider. 

There is a list of approved providers that TPS sends out to parents every year.  The provider Mikey and his family used is in there and problems persisted.   In the end Mikey got his $50.   

It was certainly a lesson in learning. 

But this program could be ending.  Change could be on the way.  That's all part of the waiver the Department of Education was referring to.  We'll explain that Wednesday night.  

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