Friday, October 24, 2008

Is Desperation the Mother of Invention?

This from Claudio Sanchez at NPR:

Pay-To-Behave Program Debuts In D.C. Schools

Listen Now [6 min 13 sec]

At Shaw-Garnet-Patterson Middle School in Washington, D.C., students like the idea of getting paid for good grades or for just showing up. They have a harder time agreeing on how much they should get.

"A lot. A thousand dollars," one young girl says. "Two hundred," a boy chimes in, " 'cause I got two A's. When asked how much he should be paid for coming to school on time, the student says it's worth $50.

School systems across America are desperate for good ideas to motivate students, and Washington, D.C., is no different. This year, schools in the nation's capital will pay kids if they work hard, behave and get good grades.

The idea is the brainchild of Harvard economist Roland Fryer. He has persuaded several school districts around the country that disruptive, unmotivated students will change their ways if money is used as a carrot.

Fryer's theory, to pay kids to do better in school, comes from many years of research and his own sense of desperation.

"The theory here is to try innovative things that will help children achieve," Fryer says. "In our urban centers, we're spending $12,000, $15,000 a kid, and we're not getting any results. So we must do something." ...

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