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An Offer Declined

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For the Dallas Independent School District, it was an offer too good not to refuse.

Businessman Charles Cross recently drove his white BMW to Dallas's Carter High School, parked it out front with the keys in the ignition, and announced to cheering students that, for the rest of the school year, winners of weekly drawings would win the right to use the luxury car for a week.

The idea, according to Mr. Cross, was to reward students who remained in school, stayed out of trouble, and maintained good grades. He also promised $1,000 cash awards at the end of six-week grading periods and $2,500 at the end of semesters.

The offer stunned Dallas school administrators, who drafted a polite letter suggesting that Mr. Davis, an economist and investor, "redirect" his resources, perhaps toward college scholarships, a spokesman said.

"How in the world can we continue to lure children with these material things?" wondered Thomas G. Jones, a school board member."

Materialism already has been a source of controversy at Carter, whose students come from middle- and upper-middle-class families.

This past summer, according to news accounts, 12 former and current students were arrested on armed robbery charges, accused of stealing cash from video stores and restaurants to buy expensive clothing and jewelry and to finance high-stakes dice games. In some cases, police charged, the robbers used their parents' cars to make their getaway.

Mr. Cross, defending his offer, said, "Many times children think they have to wait until they're 50 to see a reward. We wanted to reward them now."--nm

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