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L.A. schools give iPads, cars for perfect attendance

In a very modern attempt at motivating kids, the Los Angeles United Schools District offers interesting technological prizes for, well, turning up.

Go to school kids, and this car could be yours. Chevrolet Screenshot by Chris Matyszczyk/CNET

Our children constantly need to be rewarded.

Poor things, they're growing up in a world in which they don't know what will happen tomorrow and whether the things they want to do in life will suddenly be automated by a couple of fluff-chinned hipsters sitting in a hotel foyer.

It makes them wonder whether going to school is worth it all. Instead, go to work, get your Series A funding by the time you're 19 and hope that you can take it easy by the time you're 25.

One L.A. schools district is conscious of this existential dilemma. So it rewards its students with highly technological products.

Do these rewards come for cerebral excellence? Well, almost. As the L.A. Daily News reports, two graduating seniors in the L.A. United Schools District were awarded Chevy Sonics at the end of their high school incarceration.

What had they done to deserve this? They had turned up every day.

Yes, that's it. Perfect attendance has its privileges, as American Express might put it.

Such prizes come from local companies which, presumably, see them as a form of advertising to future customers. There are even monthly rewards such as Subway gift cards and guest passes to a local aquarium.

Naturally, some kids are given iPads. Five elementary school students were the lucky recipients.

I use the word "lucky" because it's not as if only two seniors enjoyed perfect attendance. Indeed, a total of 357 kids turned up every day in the hope, perhaps, of eating free at Subway. So a drawing is held.

The schools have a businesslike approach to attendance. If more kids are there, there is less need for repetition of classes. And their metadata tells them that the more often kids turn up, the better they do.

Of course, the schools themselves earn more money if the kids are actually there. While L.A. chooses to offer prizes, schools in Texas favor electronic tagging to ensure that they don't lose an alleged $175,000 a day in funding.

Schools are businesses too. In America, at least.

Some might criticize L.A. for using promotional marketing techniques to sell education.

But who could not be moved by the words of Vanessa Umana, one of the two winners of the Sonics: "I felt like I was dreaming."

School is just a game show, really. You feel like you're dreaming when you win.