Grades for Sale

Audrey says:

The new head of public schools in Washington DC is planning to pay middle school students for good grades. This just might get more A's and B's on the report cards. What the heck, let's pay them to eat healthy foods, for acts of courtesy and kindness too. We've commodified everything else in our children's' lives, it's about time to sell out learning.

What have we gotten with the runaway focus on money, jobs, advancement, and lives spent in pursuit of material goods? We've ruined our reputation in the world community, we've quite possibly ruined the planet, we've become one of the fattest nations on earth, just to name a few consequences.

Yes, as far as I'm concerned, there is a link. We need to go back to stressing learning over fact-gathering, critical thinking over test-taking, and informed citizenship over consumerism.

We need to teach and model the genuine satisfaction that is found in really learning, knowing, thinking. We need to let our children hear intelligent conversation so they can recognize the respectful play of ideas. We need to teach them to love good literature so that they can turn to it for real insight and solace. We need to turn off the TV and walk around outside in the air, saying hello to our neighbors.

We don't need to pay for good grades.

I recommend Susan Jacoby's new book, "The Age of American Unreason" on this topic.

Rachel Chimes in:

Paying kids for good grades in an under performing school system seems like a band aid to a much bigger issue. The system is clearly broken. My parents never gave me incentives for grades. I just got good grades because that was what was expected. I would never pay my own kids for grades, either. But I am really lucky to have two motivated and engaged children.

I do have to say, though, that sometimes the spiral downward in the inner city school system seems so out of control, I understand why the superintendent is considering this. Maybe he figures if he can break the cycle and help these kids feel some enthusiasm for school, it will have an impact on the rest of their issues.


Unknown responded on September 23, 2008 at 11:27 AM #

The problem I have with paying children for grades is that it only emphasizes the rift between kids who CAN get higher grades and kids who can't. Now, kids whose parents are engaged in the learning process are ALSO given $100 for every A, while the kids who don't have the help or capacity or the time to finish their homework get to watch as their 'smarter' (or luckier) classmates get grades and money. Do we really need to create deeper differences in children who have and children who have not?