Friday, August 22

Cash for school: The D.C. variation

Looks like Washington, D.C. schools head Michelle Rhee is borrowing another page from her mentor's playbook; see this story for her proposal, modeled on Klein's prototype, that students at 14 District middle schools earn up to $200 a month for steady attendance.

That's some kind of walking-around money for young teens and forces some tough questions: What do we teach kids when we pay them to show up? And where's the equity in rewarding some students but not others? What of the kids in schools who aren't getting paid to come to school -- do they strike for their 'due wages'? Badger their parents for allowances that match the city's incentive pay? The mind boggles.


Anonymous said...

We teach them the basics of economics: everything has a Dollar value.

Anonymous said...

I was lucky enough to grow up in a home that intrinsically valued education and performing in school. My parents didn't pay me for grades - just as I don't pay my children for grades - but in a million different ways we reward performance in school (attention, verbal praise, celebrating specific accomplishments by going out to dinner, etc.). My kids learned early on that doing well in school came with big rewards - whether we meant for them to learn that or not. Many families, however, don't intrinsically value education, and as uncomfortable as it makes me, I think programs like this should therefor be tried... Extrinsic motivators - like paychecks - may keep kids who might otherwise be uninterested focused on school.

efom said...

If you are interested in knowing what psychology and education experts think about the viability of cash "incentives" for learning, here is a an article published in The American Educator that sheds a great deal of light on the subject:

As for "teaching that everything has a dollar value", it might be wise to look back at the Enron scandal, as an example of what behavior such a philosophy can encourage.