When I was a student, I considered it my job. But I didn’t expect to get paid for it by the school or by my parents. I worked hard because I wanted to learn. Gadfly’s Liam Julian argues that paying students is a lousy idea.
Michelle Rhee, the schools chancellor of Washington, D.C., plans to offer as much as $100 a month to “middle-school pupils who turn in their homework, make it to class, and maintain good grades.” Several foundations are funding “pay-kids-to-do-what-they-should” in various cities.
The problems begin with Rhee’s reasoning, an example of which is this: “When you have a job, your attendance is tracked, whether or not you’re doing what you’re supposed to be doing is tracked, and based on that you keep your job and you get a paycheck.” Schools, she insinuated, should be much the same.
This view — and Rhee isn’t the only one to voice it — is illogical because schools are not analogous to employers and pupils are not analogous to workers. A school, unlike an employer, does not reap the services of its students — it provides services to them.
On the other side, Greg Forster makes the case for bribery on PJ Media.
If kids don’t see the value in going to school and doing the work, that may be a result of poor instruction or learning problems: They’re not actually learning anything, so school seems like a waste of time. Perhaps their school experience has taught them that little is expected of them now or later.
If foundations want to fund pay-for-performance schemes, I suggest they put the money into college (or job training) scholarship funds for hard-working students. Connect doing tomorrow’s homework with a brighter future down the road.