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Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire.

William Butler Yeats

While attending this Saturday Youth Move meeting. I was shocked to learn that one of Georgia’s High school‘s had 400 9th graders are falling in a school with 600 9th grader. I could not believe it. What could make 400 teens fail? Who was to blame? How could the community help?

If we can buy their attention today, we’ll all be richer for it tomorrow. 

I started researching ideas and came across schools that paid student for good grades.

A study by Harvard University showed that when schools paid kids for good grades, test scores noticeably improved. In Houston, a three-month-old, privately funded $1.5 million program will reward fifth-graders and, notably, their parents, when they master basic math standards. Each family stands to earn $1,050, not a small amount, especially in a community where 80 percent of kids qualify for free or reduced-price lunch. Meanwhile, down the road, more than 10,000 Dallas students have earned up to $400 for taking and passing Advanced Placement tests in a newly expanded $1.5 million program funded by a private foundation.

“There has to be intrinsic motivation,” says Kentucky’s sophomore.

More recently, Harvard economist Roland Fryer, Jr., ran a $6.3 million experiment involving 18,000 students in Washington, D.C., New York, Dallas and Chicago. In each city, the incentives looked different – with varying results. In New York, where kids were paid for good test scores, and in Chicago, where they were paid for good grades, achievement didn’t budge.

But in D.C., where kids were rewarded for a variety of tasks, including earning good grades, attending class and completing homework, some kids did marginally better on reading comprehension tests. And in Dallas, where kids got $2 for each book they read – more books were read, and reading comprehension scores significantly improved.

Could this work? I started thinking of how many people would think that this would be immoral.

I mean it is what children are supposed to do with the reward of a great job and a love for the subject. Is this no longer enough? Has our society contributed to this condition with indulging young people with wants and not needs. How many kids do you know with $200.00 plus phones I Pad’s, IPods and $300.00 dollar game systems?

I see the pros and cons of such programs college enrollment should rise and Juvenile crime would go down. On the other hand young people would have a since of entitlement.

With failing schools and the dropout rate as high as it is. I do not know what the answer is. I just know in order for students in the United States to compete globally we need to think outside the box and work together.

-Marypat Hector

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