School & District Management Opinion

Paying Kids & Parents To Do Better In School - What’s The Difference?

By Alexander Russo — August 08, 2007 1 min read
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Though it’s not my favorite thing in the world, I’m not nearly as opposed as some are to the idea of paying poor kids and their parents for doing things like going to school and doing well there. And it’s not just because a young Harvard professor named Roland Fryer (pictured) says it’s a good idea, or because it’s worked in Mexico.

Lots of parents already pay their kids for chores and good grades. And lots of educators already reward kids with pizza parties and pencils and field trips for behaving well and doing good work. Fair or not, people get paid more or less depending on how well they do at school and at work (except in education, of course). So I don’t see much difference in encouraging kids and their parents to do right in the short term, especially if it helps all of us in the long term.

But at least a few others don’t like the idea much, as this Joseph Berger column from the NY Times relates (Some Wonder if Cash for Good Test Scores Is the Wrong Kind of Lesson). Or maybe they just don’t like anything Chancellor Klein proposes these days. In the piece, Berger finds a mom who says she doesn’t want the cash payments that New York is planning on doling out -- but then reveals that the woman’s children won’t be eligible since they’re not considered poor. No problem. Now she doesn’t like the program because it only goes to poor kids. Doh! It’s not a very convincing column -- to me, at least, though whether NYC and Fyer (who now works for the district) can or will implement the program well is another question.

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