Olivia Gluck, a 14-year-old from the Five Towns area of Long Island, was psyched to be the 2015 class valedictorian at her private middle school. But she was even more excited for her reward: a shiny new MacBook from her father.
Cost: a cool $1,500.
Olivia’s not the only one in the Gluck household riding the academic gravy train. Her 20-year-old sister, Alex, a junior at the Fashion Institute of Technology, has been promised three pairs of fancy shoes (she’s partial to Christian Louboutin) if she raises her GPA from a 3.7 to a 3.8.
And brother Ryan, 17 and a senior at a private high school, got a brand-new Jeep Cherokee last school year from their grandparents as a reward for his academic efforts.
It’s not bribery, it’s reality.- Amanda Sanders, Upper East Side mom
The kids’ dad, Kenny, a comedy producer, is financing the monthly insurance payments in exchange for good grades (including a high score on upcoming college-entrance exams).
“Ryan needs that push more than the average student,” says Kenny.
Forget $5 for an A grade. More and more area kids are earning big-ticket rewards for their report cards.
“[My kids] have very wealthy friends,” Kenny says. Paying them with gifts for grades shows them that “they have to work for it.”
Indeed, some parents even tout their kids’ negotiating skills — getting what they want for a job well-done — as “entrepreneurial.”
“It’s not bribery, it’s reality,” says Amanda Sanders, a fashion stylist who lives on the Upper East Side. Her 11-year-old, Samantha, a sixth-grader at a public middle school, has her eyes set on a $400 Segway. It’ll be hers if she gets positive feedback about her classroom participation.
Last school year, Samantha’s efforts were rewarded with credit card privileges. Says Amanda, “Now she can charge anything from Starbucks to cabs.”
And the child’s “stellar” performance at the end of last school year bought her $500 worth of personalized gear for camp.
“The reward system is a way of life,” says Amanda. “If you try your hardest, sometimes it counts — but you want to see results.”
Not everyone in the academic community is impressed. Rebecca, a tutor to the kids of NYC’s 1-percenters, recalls a 6-year-old client who received a shopping spree at the American Girl store — for finishing “The Cat in the Hat” on her own.
“It’s nice a first-grader can read, but I didn’t think it was [the biggest deal],” says the tutor.
New dolls are nothing compared to the windfall bestowed upon another of Rebecca’s charges, an Upper East Side middle-schooler.
The girl’s parents promised a weeklong spa getaway to Arizona’s luxe Canyon Ranch last year for completing her required readings. The sumptuous getaway, a favorite of celebs like January Jones, costs around $10,000 for a week.
But when does it end?
Limor Weinstein, a private therapist on the Upper East Side, has a 36-year-old patient who is still playing hardball with her overly indulgent parents.
“She says she’s only going to find a job if her parents pay for her $500 hair treatments,” Weinstein says.
Kenny Gluck — who explains that his own parents wouldn’t even let him visit the ice-cream truck for a good report card (“We have ice cream at home!” he remembers them saying) — insists he’ll draw the line after his kids have completed their educations.
“That’s it,” he says.
“You hope you did a good job, that they’re ready for the real world.”