Reading, Writing, and Envy


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.