Monday, March 22, 2010

PAYING KIDS TO STUDY

It works in Austin, Texas.

Eeek! (That's the noise I make when I'm seeing something scary!)

Paying kids for studying is getting more kids into colleges. The National Bureau of Economic Research Report says Texas high-school students earning cash for passing exams, showed not only better grades, but actually, in college, they have better attendance, and more likelihood of earning degrees.

The report notes the effects of earning cash worked more effectively with African--American students than with other students -- 10 percent were more likely to enter college, and 50 percent were more likely to persist through graduation. The cost for paying the kids for studying, according to the report, was approximately $200 per student.

(Immediately, I'm thinking that Black kids need the money more than the other kids, but "need" is not listed in the report, as one of the factors.)

Cornell professor, Kirabo Jackson, author of the study, said: "If you have a million dollars, this is a pretty good way to spend it. It gives cool-minded kids an alibi for success --'I don't like math; I'm saving for an X-box!'"

Eeek! "An alibi for success?"

It sounds so crass, so wrong for kids! I went back and read the report again. And again found myself eeking -- it's hard to believe that educators approve of this.

And apparently the educators approve of what's happening in Atlanta schools, where standardized test papers from two dozen schools had an unusually high number of wrong answers, that had been erased and replaced by correct answers in a suspicious erasure pattern -- suggesting an orchestrated attempt to improve those schools' standing, under the "No Child Left Behind Act."

It sounds as if G.W. Bush's "No Child Left Behind Act " of 2004, encourages schools to cheat in order to get more money for their budgets. And they've got further incentive for cheating -- Obama's "Recovery Act" (the $787 billion Stimulus Bill signed last February) funded Race to the Top, a program awarding college tuition grants to the winning students, and monetary rewards to the states who are successfully boosting their kids' scores.

So hey, if you hate school, learn to cheat, guys. The most important thing right now, is pass those exams, go to college, and learn -- not history, math, science, literature, or the arts -- learn how to make M O N E Y.

Am I kidding? No. I'm reporting what I've read. Educators think paying kids to learn is an excellent idea.

I'm hoping it's just temporary, and part of recovering from our current economic situation (call it what -- the economic debacle of 2009?) But no matter what we call it now, or next year, I think paying kids to study is confusing, defeating, harmful -- a BAD idea.

Why not pay the teachers, instead, for inventing new ways, better ways, for intriguing their students -- capturing their imaginations, finding creative projects for them that keep them curious -- wanting to know more about the subject tomorrow?

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