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Polis Report

Teach Your Children

By Traci Hukill

It's never too early to start training worker bees, right? So goes the thinking at Zillions, the Consumer Reports rag for kids, if the May/June cover story is any indication. The issue's feature article, titled "Summer Jobs: How Much to Charge?," is a splashy four-page spread crammed with kid-friendly tips on how to set rates for yard work, baby-sitting and cleaning jobs, how to broach the delicate subject of a pay increase, and which jobs pay the most.

To its credit, Zillions addresses sexism in the workplace and falls short of actually urging kids to go out and find summer jobs. But did anyone at Zillions ask if kids ages 9 through 14 (the ages of the respondents to a September Zillions survey) should work? What about playing? Do people without armpit hair really need to worry about whether they're being paid what they're worth?

We queried editor Charlotte Baecher as to whether she thought it a sign of the times that America expects its kids to bring home the bacon--albeit ends and pieces--in a reportedly enlightened age where childhood is revered and where full-grown adults will even study self-help books in order to reclaim it. Baecher is a very pleasant woman. She had this to say:

"In no way was it intended to be a message that kids should be income earners for the family. It's the beginning of what they're going to be learning later on about finding a career and a job."

One more time: Is that really necessary?

Perhaps it helps achieve some global balance. While Pakistani kids stitch soccer balls for 30 cents a day, their American counterparts can learn managerial skills, the fine art of pay wrangling, and how to devote their free time to chasing down the omnipotent buck.

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From the May 29-June 4, 1997 issue of Metro

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