Teachers should offer extra credit for donations

December 11, 2008 — by Jenny Zhang

If you walk into some teachers’ classrooms this time of year, you can see a steadily growing pile of toilet paper, canned foods, toys, children’s books, toiletries, clothes, hangers, school supplies and any other donations students have brought in on the back table of their rooms, ready to be sent to charities. These donations have piled up for one main reason: extra credit. But is it OK to use extra credit this way?

The answer is yes, but only if the amount of extra credit given is minimal and cannot significantly alter a student’s grade.

Students know that they can’t “buy” their grade, especially when only a small number of points can be received. But the added incentive is the extra push most students need to dig into the goodness of their hearts and actually remember to bring in the donations that will benefit shelters, food drives and the significantly increasing number of families who need help following the devastating economic downturn.

Some may see this as slightly immoral, but the people at shelters who receive the benefit of these donations will greatly appreciate these efforts. In a way, one can say that offering a bit of extra credit is for the greater good. The few extra points can’t really alter any student’s grade, but the
donations that each student brings adds up to become a great deal of help to many local families, allowing them to sleep with full stomachs.

In a way, what teachers do with extra credit is a lot like what Saratoga High does when it comes to community service. Just as students must make donations to receive extra credit, they must also complete 100 hours of community service in order to wear an extra cord around their necks when they graduate. This extra cord gives students a greater incentive to do something positive in the community. The numerous hours of community service that results from graduating students adds up and greatly improves the qualities of many people’s lives.

So the next time your teacher is asking for donations, and offering extra credit, go ahead and donate. Bring in a can of food, or a children’s toy. Get the token extra credit. Don’t feel guilty. Just know that your contribution will brighten the life of someone in need.

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