Roland G. Fryer, a 30-year-old Harvard economist known for his study of racial inequality in schools, is back in New York to again promote a big idea: Pay students cash for high scores on standardized tests and their performance might improve. And he has captured the attention of Schools Chancellor Joel I. Klein and Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg.
Across the country, educators have been experimenting with cash incentives. A program in Chelsea, Mass., gave children $25 for perfect attendance. Some Dallas schools pay children $2 for each book they read.
But the idea is controversial. Many educators maintain, among other objections, that children have to learn for the love of it, not for cash.
...“It makes me really nervous,” said Maggie Siena, the principal of Public School 150 in TriBeCa. “I suspect paying kids for achievement in any way tends not to work.”
...“The fundamental problem with education and motivating kids to learn what they need to learn is that the payoffs are so distant,” said Tom Loveless, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, a left-leaning research organization. “So it’s very hard to motivate students to do well. Good students get that motivation from somewhere — from peers, their parents, how they’re raised — but the kids who are unmotivated have a very hard time understanding that what they do today pays off decades from now.”
This from the New York Times.