Getting paid to go to school...
A couple weeks ago I latched onto an interesting discussion over at Joanne Jacobs’ site. The topic “du jour was”, of course, education related as that is the forte of the site owner.
Specifically, there was discourse relative to 24 New York City schools experimenting with the concept of paying a student to perform. As was pointed out, there really isn’t too much research in the field. There seemed to be a lot of interest with opinions all over the spectrum as to whether it was a good idea or not. In that particular program, a successful economist, Roland Fryer (Junior Fellow, Harvard Society of Fellows) was leading the charge. The program appears to be focusing on minority students. It’s still too early to evaluate whether the program is successful in improving the participation and performance of the student. Obviously, there were different views as to the merit of such an exercise. Everything from the Equal Protection Act application to opposition from the teacher’s unions including a similar program in on the Left Coast that appeared to be a success. The dialogue was lively and enlightening.
I’m not sure where I fell in the group. On the surface it seems like a novel approach to gaining the lost interest of students. Yet, something didn’t sit right. Perhaps that has something to do with my coming from a family that has more teachers and principals in it than some of the more rural school districts en total.
Today I stumbled across an article in the Detroit Free Press dealing with a similar concept. Yet, this one takes the process just a bit further. And, to me, the steps they take makes the program that much more meritorious.
I’ll have to admit that up to this part in the article I, sort of, had to cringe. An 8 year old bringing home the bacon didn’t sound too appealing in reference to the actual goal of gaining improvements in participation and performance. However, as I read on I realized that this program includes an education and discipline application in finances. When you consider the outright abuse of Credit in this plastic Country of ours, it’s not that bad of an idea to include a bit of a lesson in Capitalism as an aside to classroom learning.
What’s interesting here is that there is real world application. While I’m not a big proponent of introducing taxes to a third grader, you have to consider that the program gives the student an investment in the school. 8 year olds can be pretty territorial. They will not be kind to someone who vandalizes that portion of the building in which they are forced to invest a segment of their “earnings.” The whole notion of “my school” takes on an entirely new meaning. Maybe that’s not such a bad idea afterall.
There is, also, the use of penalties and repercussions for performing on a sub par level, both academically and behaviorally. That’s no different from what happens outside the school yard. The current system is too interested in the “certificate of participation” and not the acquisition of goals. Winning is not a bad thing. Succeeding is not harmful. Too often, students are shielded from the necessity of flexibility and the efforts required for achievements that accompany decision making. There are disappointments in life. Learning how to deal with that truth in a constructive environment can produce a better rounded individual. At least that’s my opinion.
The funding process appears to be a good one. The parents and teachers are both invested in the results. It could be considered an incentive on their behalf as well. If this were funded through Government funds there would be a risk of violating the Equal Protection Act should this be the only class applying the program. The privatization avoids this potential issue.
And, oh those wily third graders setting up their own black market to move some hot Ugly Wugglys. On the surface it was to be expected. However, it was, also, a great lesson in free enterprise. Finally, it was an extremely beneficial example of the necessity of rules and regulations applied to the free enterprise market so as to provide an fair marketplace. So help me, I can just picture those 8 year olds expressing their own unique personalities as these options expose themselves. Even at such a young age, you can always pick out wheeler dealer types.
I think that's the idea. You can read the rest of the article HERE...