Education

Reading, Writing, and Envy

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Parents and critics are lining up against NYC's plan to pay students for test scores, which I wrote about here:

Mrs. Windland wants [her daughter] Alexandra to do well [academically] for all the timeless reasons — to cultivate a love of learning, advance to more competitive schools and the like. She has on occasion bought her children toys or taken them out for dinner when they brought home pleasurable report cards, but she does not believe in dangling rewards beforehand.

"It's like giving kids an allowance because they wake up every morning and brush their teeth and go off to school," she said. "That's their job. That's what they're supposed to be doing."

Actually, Alexandra will probably not be eligible for the reward because the program, which has been adapted from a similar Mexican cash incentives plan, is aimed largely at schools with students from low-income families.

Actually, Mrs. Windland could opt out of the program if her daughter were, in fact, eligible. But, no matter:

Mrs. Windland predicts that the impact of the program may be paradoxical, with resentment depressing the achievement of hard workers.

"The kids who don't get reimbursed are going to say, 'Why should I bother!' " Mrs. Windland said…

It may be hard to explain to children, sensitive to any unfairness, why one child is getting money while another with better grades is not.

Have schools become bastions of fairness since I left? Inequalities have always existed within and between all schools, public and private. Maybe if schools with different programs for learning could compete for students, parents like Mrs. Windland would not have to be so upset about a program in a different school that doesn't affect her child and she could explain to her daughter why she chose her school in the first place.

More from reason on school choice here and Nick Gillespie's interview with voucher pioneer Milton Friedman here.

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  1. It’s like giving kids an allowance because they wake up every morning and brush their teeth and go off to school

    Makes me wonder what little Alexandra is expected to do for her allowance.

    I say the kids should organize a work stoppage. Imagine hundreds of tykes picketing in the schoolyard.

    MINIMUM WAGE FOR HOMEWORK.

    Tee he he

  2. They will stop the motor of the public schools!

  3. Back when I used to work with juvenile justice offenders, one of them asked me why he had to do chores and educational work for no pay.

    “If we paid you, it would be a violation of child labor laws. If we force you, it’s education,” I told him. It’s true that it’s sad, but it’s sadder that it’s true.

  4. I’ve already mentioned this before (the last time this issue was blogged on H&R), but kids are already compensated for doing well, e.g., college, scholarships, better job opportunities, and eventually higher pay (if they so desire).

  5. “It’s like giving kids an allowance because they wake up every morning and brush their teeth and go off to school,” she said. “That’s their job. That’s what they’re supposed to be doing.”

    I can’t speak for Ms. Windland, but I get paid to do my job, and I highly doubt I would do it otherwise.

  6. “Makes me wonder what little Alexandra is expected to do for her allowance.”

    That sounds like a great lead-in for a teen porn site.

  7. Have schools become bastians of fairness since I left?

    No, nor bastions of spellingness. The bastids.

  8. ClubMedSux–

    That was my initial reaction as well. On the other hand, I’d be willing to bet that those kids have a lower mortgage payment than I do. Probably lower food and utility costs too.

  9. Makes me wonder what little Alexandra is expected to do for her allowance.

    Chores? Like the rest of us had to go do earn an allowance

  10. If we paid you, it would be a violation of child labor laws. If we force you, it’s education,

    I for one am glad you are no longer counseling juvenile criminals, Abdul.

  11. I for one am glad you are no longer counseling juvenile criminals, Abdul.

    That makes two of us.

  12. I often wonder how many NCLB test advocates have ever seen the actual tests used. I would venture that the number is pretty small. As used, the test is a poor device. A tiny number of questions is used to define the progress of students in broad areas of learning. A student’s answers on three or four multiple choice questions can determine whether the student is considered Below Basic, Basic, Proficient, or Advanced. A simple difference in terminology (command vs. imperative) can determine whether a teacher is a star or a flop.

    Teachers CAN use the information to adjust curriculum, provide extra help, communicate to parents, and so forth, but test results are just one tool in his or her arsenal.

    The student tests are little better than the teacher tests that my state began requiring in the late 80’s. During the first year of implementation, I found that I was unable to keep one of the best primary student teachers I have supervised because she had a fear of high-stakes tests and didn’t perform well. That same year I had to fire a secondary teacher who maxed the tests, but couldn’t control his classroom.

    If tests become the single method of measurement of success, you can look forward to a lot of real-life failures.

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