City Desk

Why Couldn’t I Get a Summer Job Like This?

A couple weeks ago, while I was hanging out in Spingarn High's workout room for a story on the sorry state of the school's football program, a woman walked in holding a clipboard with several pages of names.

She called out each name, and asked Paris Adon, the Spingarn football coach, how many hours each kid spent in the workout room. Times generally ranged from 0 to 40 hours per week, though Adon said he'd never heard of several of the names on the list.

I'm sorta slow, and city government scandals ain't my bailiwick, but when the woman asked if it would be all right to put paychecks on the kids' "debit cards," it finally hit me that that she was an auditor working with the fabled summer jobs program, and that the kids on her list were being paid to hang out at Spingarn's workout room.

But, as bizarre as the city has been my whole life, I couldn't believe tax dollars would actually go to kids to lift weights and play pool. I had to deliver newspapers or pool chlorine (still the two best jobs I ever had).

So I asked Adon: Kids are being paid to come to Spingarn and work out? That's a summer job in D.C.? No way!

Way! Adon told me.

"And I still can't get anybody to show up," Adon said. "But that's a whole other story."

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  • Don

    Would you feel awesome getting paid for doing nothing? Neither would those kids.


    Train the kids to start their own business, but don't pay them for government jobs. I no longer believe that working for a company or corporation as an employee is a worthwhile pursuit for a teenager- they only learn pride in work by working for their own company and going out to get customers.

  • Reid

    Uhhh, isn't the problem with a lot of these kids the fact that they have gone out and started their own businesses, getting customers, and establishing sales territories?