Cities across the country are paying students (and, sometimes, parents) for academic success, meeting attendance, and so on. See, for example, Des Moines, Washington, D.C., New York, Chicago, Baltimore, and Atlanta.
In response, Alfie Kohn asks:
When are educators going to work with children and their parents to create the kind of learning environments that will be naturally engaging to kids instead of doing things to make them jump through hoops for a prize?
This just seems wrongheaded to me. But then I think the learning process should be an engaging one, as Kohn advocates, not one that you literally have to entice students to suffer through.
Is this just a sign that the current system is broken? Or is it a logical response to the troubles that these kids, families, and districts are facing?
I mentioned the move to pay middle schoolers in DC a few days ago. I got a little flack from a George Mason law student because I expressed uncertainty at the time about whether this was good or bad. I find it difficult to imagine funding a widespread system of student payments. I think funding disparities between prosperous urban districts and impoverished rural areas would be exaggerated even more by the trend. And I think it might reinforce a culture of entitlement that needs to change somewhat.
Of course it’s a “sign that the current system is broken.” On the other hand, I think this is the most irresponsible way of trying to fix it. Buying everyone out? Now we are actually putting a price on students attendance, grades, behavior, etc. This CANNOT have positive long term effects.