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And the Latest NYC Idea for D.C. Schools: Paying Students!

As much as Mayor Adrian Fenty and School Chancellor Michelle Rhee like to cast their school takeover as "outside the box" thinking, it's not particularly difficult to figure out what's coming next: Just look to the north. Last year, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Chancellor Joel Klein announced a plan to pay students for showing up and getting good grades. Today, Fenty and Rhee showed up at Hardy Middle School in Georgetown to announce 14 D.C. middle schools would be part of a similar pilot program here.

As in New York, the D.C. program is being run in conjunction with Harvard University, which has also partnered with Chicago's public schools. The idea, Rhee said, is that middle school is generally considered a key, but difficult, time for students, and for those who fall behind the future can be dim. Most students who drop out of high school do so in the ninth grade, Rhee said.

Under the new "Capital Gains" program, students at the 14 schools -- which have yet to be selected -- will have the chance to earn up to $100 every two weeks, based on a series of metrics including attendance, behavior and academic performance. Students will get debit cards -- uh, oh -- and the money will be deposited in a bank that will be selected shortly, officials said. The program will cost $2.7 million, split between the District and Harvard, Rhee said.

Harvard professor Roland Fryer, who founded the Harvard initiative dubbed "School is Money," appeared with Fenty and Rhee and said preliminary data in New York is positive and more complete data will be examined this fall.

Predictably, Fenty and Rhee were grilled by reporters about whether paying students sends the right message. Rhee said it does because it prepares students for getting a job, where showing up, being professional and doing good work is rewarded with a pay check.

So do you do your job for money? Post columnist Marc Fisher asked Rhee.

"I don't do it for the money. If I did it for the money, I'd be doing something else," Rhee replied. "But would I do it for free? I'd have a hard time with that."


POLL

By David A Nakamura  |  August 21, 2008; 12:50 PM ET
Categories:  Education  
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Comments

trouble.

Posted by: stinkeye | August 21, 2008 1:06 PM | Report abuse

One thing at a time, Rhee! Sheesh, you didn't even let schools open yet and you're unrolling more untested programs. Couldn't we use that money to create programs that make kids WANT to come to work, versus coming to school for the paycheck. I know too many adults who keep their terrible job because they get paid...I don't see this breeding a "culture of learning."

Posted by: Pay for performance? | August 21, 2008 2:45 PM | Report abuse

You gotta be kidding me. D.C. residents already have a way skewed sense of entitlement. Now they're going to pay students for showing up and doing what they're supposed to do?

D.C. taxpayers, get your checkbooks out.

Unbelievable!

Posted by: waterfrontproperty | August 21, 2008 2:46 PM | Report abuse

This is ridiculous, I can't wait to move out of this city.

Posted by: G-town | August 21, 2008 2:51 PM | Report abuse

I think this is brilliant. Think of the kids who have to drop out of school to work; school now is their job - literally. Besides, nothing else seems to motivate DC kids to stay in school, behave, or learn anything. In an ideal world this would be a bad idea, but luckily Rhee sees reality as it is and has decided to solve the problem that is there in the way REALITY will allow her to do so.

Posted by: dmt2 | August 21, 2008 2:53 PM | Report abuse

Now if those $100 were put into high yield savings accounts and were able to be accessed only to pay for college or trade school or educational expenses (I wanted to major in French and used a rotary club scholarship to travel to France a few weeks after h.s. graduation) after graduation -- now that would be a sound investment.

But good gravy. $200 a month? Hell, I'll change to flex time at work and go to middle school for $200/month.

Posted by: NC2 | August 21, 2008 2:54 PM | Report abuse

On second thought, pay the teachers an extra $200/month for dealing with middle school kids!!!

Posted by: NC2 -- second thoughts | August 21, 2008 2:57 PM | Report abuse

Ridiculous!

Posted by: Hegemonic1350 | August 21, 2008 3:03 PM | Report abuse

Get paid to learn! Another social experiment from the liberal (Harvard) community. Money doesn't build character. It demeans it. When this gets going and the kids figure out who has the money. Look out. Popularity will kick in and the student will never know if he is important for himself or the money. Great for building self esteem. Right!

Posted by: No nonsense | August 21, 2008 3:08 PM | Report abuse

Would you rather pay $2400 a year now if it keeps kids that are most likely to drop out in school on on a path to graduation or would your rather pay:

unemployment checks
food stamps
potential cost of incarceration
Medicare
etc., etc., etc. that comes with an unemployable adult

later on in life. The real fact is that the kids in DC middle schools are by and large a product of parents that are not modeling "learning for its own sake" so cash incentives strike me as worthy of at least exploring if it helps get more kids to the finish line of a high school diploma.

Posted by: Good idea | August 21, 2008 3:13 PM | Report abuse

c'mon ! I say give them money towards eventual scholarships, but not debit cards which would basically be cash. There would be no way to monitor what they would spend the money on--junk food, beer, drugs..or would bullies somehow steal the smarter kids cards and pin numbers...any number of scenarios could happen...gangs could even get involved.

How about better teaching, infrastructure supplies and parent involvement. How about using the money to pay get more of the parents to show up at parent/teacher conferences? Maybe some can't afford to take the time of work to do so...?

Posted by: gimmeabreak | August 21, 2008 3:14 PM | Report abuse

I disagree. Most of us never got paid to go to school and recieved a degree or more. We worked after school jobs or summer jobs,under Barry, and learned the value of being professional and accountable. Yes, school is their job and their salary is the grades they earned. The promotion is graduating and going on to college or something else responsible and productive.

If Ms. Rhee was thinking out of the box, she would have the ablility to persuade the students to learn because they need to not get paid. Some kid may never finish school now. Good luck, Bad idea.

Posted by: Keon | August 21, 2008 3:14 PM | Report abuse

"I don't do it for the money. If I did it for the money, I'd be doing something else," Rhee replied.
==============
Ok, how much does Rhee get paid?

Posted by: interested party | August 21, 2008 3:15 PM | Report abuse

I'm glad I don't live in D.C. This is nuts. I could maybe agree with some of the posters where any monies were restricted for college/trade school use but $100 every 2 weeks for a kid to do what he/she's supposed to be doing anyway?

This just sends the wrong message. Kids will feel that they don't need to do anything unless someone pays them to do it.

Posted by: Rockville | August 21, 2008 3:22 PM | Report abuse

If you're going to try this, at least start out with a small amount, say $15-25 for every two weeks.

Posted by: not a DC resident | August 21, 2008 3:24 PM | Report abuse

Another $2.7 million gimmick. What is going on with this country? What are we teaching the young? That is the government's responsability to clothe me, feed me, educate me, get me a job, give me a house, pay my mortgage...what is next, pay me for not commiting any felonies?

Posted by: Anonymous | August 21, 2008 3:25 PM | Report abuse

This is incredible, they don't even know if this works in NYC and they are ready to try it here. What is wrong with this picture. Can we do something that we think works for us and for the kids that go to our schools. How about paying $200 to somebody to CLEAN the schools. GOSH!!!!!!!!!

Posted by: DCj Resident | August 21, 2008 3:30 PM | Report abuse

I have seen this idea used in other states. It is a new way to get kids interested in school. Different things have to be tried.

One thing. Money for attendence is wrong. The programs in other states pay students for good grades. Showing up and getting paid is nothing more than a government job. :-)..

If you pay the kids to actually learn and produce, they will eventually understand that if you work hard there are rewards. It does not come easy or right away, but it does come. If it does not work, DC needs to kill it, but let's at least try.

Open your eyes people. This is a new era. The old days of, a child is suppose to do this and do that is over. You have to think out-of-the-box and try new things. It's call "CHANGE" for all the adults who think like adults and don't listen to the children or see the world you are passing on to them.

Contray to a lot of old school beliefs, the reality is that kids are dropping out, ditching, and not pay attention to you.

Remember, "Necessity is the Mother Invention".

Posted by: Jay | August 21, 2008 3:31 PM | Report abuse

Just great why don't you just give them cigarettes and booze at school for attending school and keeping them there, if that is the only way you think you can keep them there, while at it, why don't you invite a few "intertainers" too. INCREDIBLE.

Posted by: anonymous | August 21, 2008 3:37 PM | Report abuse

What's next?? Paying students to go to college?? Parents need to teach their kids to respect authority and a will to learn.

Posted by: local200 | August 21, 2008 3:37 PM | Report abuse

Scenario: After meeting the requirements to receive the first two incentives of $100, a student's attendance and grades begin to drop. Now faced with being denied the $$$ incentive, the student approaches the teacher and says, "Oh please give me the money, kind teacher. My family is relying on that money to eat. I'll do better next time." And so the teacher does what..........

Posted by: Realist | August 21, 2008 3:39 PM | Report abuse

Thats exactly what I picked up on

I don't do it for the money. If I did it for the money, I'd be doing something else," Rhee replied.
==============
Ok, how much does Rhee get paid?

Rhee gets paid 275,000 plus perks

Thats top 1% of the nation.

Not that many somethings elses out there.

Heck if we eliminated Rhee you could pay 137 middle schoolers $100 every two weeks.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 21, 2008 3:45 PM | Report abuse

This pisses me off.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 21, 2008 3:46 PM | Report abuse

heres the link to Rhees salary and perks

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/07/10/AR2007071001965.html

Posted by: Anonymous | August 21, 2008 3:47 PM | Report abuse

I would think $100 every two weeks is a little excessive. I would probably save that for students who earned it at the end of the quarter when their report cards reflected it and maybe at the awards assembly. Plus you never know what kind of parents a student may have. I know when I WORKED, when I was in high school a portion of my check always went to mom.

Posted by: mg | August 21, 2008 3:52 PM | Report abuse

Why would this program need to be tested? Either they will get the money according to the policy or they won't. If they don't get the grades and attendance then no money will be wasted; then at the end of the school year the money should go back into the boards general pot. DUH! People always complain about "somebody has to do something" to help these kids excel in school. We already know the parents aren't much help and the sorry neighborhoods where they are coming from won't help, so let's try something to improve school attendance and grades so they can meet their quota. You can't always blame it on the teachers, they are only there to teach the child. They child has to come to be taught.

Posted by: What | August 21, 2008 3:52 PM | Report abuse

In the larger scheme of things, Rhee is not getting paid a whole lot of money if you are executive level in the private sector. So, if she really didn't like what she was doing should could leave and get paid more money somewhere else.

Posted by: mg | August 21, 2008 3:55 PM | Report abuse

Let's see, we live in a town where.......
almost 40% of the adults are fuctionally illiterate, something like 10% of high school students graduate college, school test scores put us at the bottom of the heap nationally, and an unbelievable number of young people end up dead due to urban violence or in jail.
$50 a week to learn you can succeed at acquiring skills that make you a contributing citizen seems like a reasonable investment.
How much does it cost to keep a kid in jail? Don't tax payers pay for that?
I've read its something like $30,000/yr per head. More than college.
So invest in education or incarceration.
I favor the former.
This place is a war zone for children, and drastic measures are needed to break the existing cycle of ignorance, violence and jail.
Congratulations to Fenty and Rhee for putting this plan in place. And if you don't like it, look at the map and pick your own Private Idaho to move to.

Posted by: Kids are worth more than money. | August 21, 2008 3:58 PM | Report abuse

Okay, this is insane! Most of these kids already feel entitled to everything for nothing as it is. Exactly what message is this teaching these students? I'm not a resident of the city, but I can only imagine what kind of financial impact this will have on an already struggle school system. Teachers as a profession are underpaid and now you want to pay the students for doing what's right to begin with. Absolutely insane! I say give that money to the teachers.

Posted by: Greenchelle | August 21, 2008 4:01 PM | Report abuse

I'm surprised by the argument of why pay kids for what they should do.

How many parents pay (allowance) their kids to take out the trash, clean their rooms, and do their homework? Lighten up people.

Posted by: lighten up | August 21, 2008 4:03 PM | Report abuse

The DUMBEST thing I ever heard. Raise teacher pay instead.

Posted by: citigreg | August 21, 2008 4:07 PM | Report abuse

Very interesting discussion here

Heres my 2 cents.

The rub is the motivation factor. Will a kid pay attention in school if they could get 100 bucks every two weeks. I think this will backfire because you will end up paying the kids that would have already been successful. I think very few kids are choosing to do poorly in school. Most of the kids who are doing poorly truly have no idea what is going on. Like another person said I think this money would be better spent on teachers or maybe hiring a couple of private tutors to work one-on-one with kids to give them the extra boost to become sucessfull

Posted by: Anonymous | August 21, 2008 4:08 PM | Report abuse

Bravo for Fenty and Rhee, I think this is a great idea. Children at that age are frequently ignorant of how being educated translates into earing potential. Providing direct association in how economic potential is related to academic success makes for an outstanding lesson. That age group has an acute sense of market economics, in that they understand if one posses monetary wealth they can acquire more of the things that make relevant. Besides, isn't one of the fundamental anchors of the capitalism "The one who dies with the most toys wins?", so why not start them off on the right track. I'd much rather pay them to be in school as opposed to paying to lock them up.

Posted by: jackattack949 | August 21, 2008 4:12 PM | Report abuse

Oh Great, and let me guess. all the money in the bank will dissappear and we will find out that the local bank chosen to hold the accounts is run by a friend of somebody on the council etc......

Posted by: cambel | August 21, 2008 4:12 PM | Report abuse

I think that this is a good idea. Money will motivate anyone! This is a good way for the kids to make some money instead of selling drugs,stealing or even robbery. I think we should open our minds and at least give it a try!

Posted by: Shannon B | August 21, 2008 4:13 PM | Report abuse

"D.C. residents already have a way skewed sense of entitlement"

"Most of these kids already feel entitled to everything for nothing as it is"

and these posters know this how?

Posted by: Entitlement? | August 21, 2008 4:14 PM | Report abuse

Actually, it doesn't necessarily seem like the most liberal idea to come out of Harvard. Any HR person or psychologist will tell you that the best method of motivation is positive reinforcement. It's much better to tell students that they will get paid for good grades than it is to tell them that they will be punished for bad grades. I think that this is possibly both good psychological policy and good economic policy.

I will actually laud Harvard University on this policy as I think it may very well turn out successful.

Posted by: Andy | August 21, 2008 4:15 PM | Report abuse

I think the next obvious step is to start paying D.C. residents for staying out of prison and paying their taxes on time. Where's my bi-weekly $100 check from the govt?

Posted by: Next Step? | August 21, 2008 4:17 PM | Report abuse

I should amend my comments, if they actually did end up appearing. I think it's a good idea provided that it is applied correctly. Students should get paid for attendance and effort achievement. Either maintaining good grade or improving bad ones. A 1.5 GPA student should not have to get a 3.5 in order to receive his compensation, he should get paid if he improves to a 2.0 first. Baby steps are important, the goal is to motivate students.

Teachers should be compensated based on improving students as well instead of meeting test scores.

Posted by: Andy | August 21, 2008 4:19 PM | Report abuse

Why pay kids to do something they are supposed to do? Might I add this is all they have to worry about.

Posted by: Mary | August 21, 2008 4:22 PM | Report abuse

"I think this will backfire because you will end up paying the kids that would have already been successful."

I think this is the most poignant point made so far. I think that this is a ridiculous idea, but that hasn't stopped Fenty and his posse from implementing any of their other schemes, so we just gotta deal with it.

So...Rather than simply paying all the kids, why not benchmark them so you know where they starting from and make sure that they only get paid for improvement.

I live in MoCo and all DC parents need to understand how little they're getting from their taxes. DC taxpayers, w/ and w/out kids, need to hold the Mayor accountable for playing with the city's money like this is Monopoly!

Posted by: Anonymous | August 21, 2008 4:24 PM | Report abuse

And then when they drop out we can pay them to not commit crimes. Stand back folks it's just the beginning. Wait till Obama takes office then the real liberal fun will begin.

Posted by: Ski | August 21, 2008 4:25 PM | Report abuse

This is crazy. Children are supposed to go to school. Getting paid? Going to school isn't a chore. This is unheard of. So to boost up Rhee's performance appraisal, its going to be based off of her "paying" students to go to school. So why do we have her here?

Posted by: DCResident | August 21, 2008 4:28 PM | Report abuse

If the money is going to smart, already dependable, kids in the first place, then it's a goofy plan. If it's going to kids that are currently on the edge of failure, and might can be saved, I say go for it! And good luck!

Posted by: Bill | August 21, 2008 4:28 PM | Report abuse

Schools should do what most parents have done for generations?? It's the parents job to reward their children. It could be money, taking them somewhere, and if you don't have much it doesn't cost a thing to say..."I'm proud of you!! You did a great job!! Keep up the good work and you WILL succeed!!" and the most important "I love you" Is that really hard to do?? If it is.....you should not have children.

Posted by: Good parenting | August 21, 2008 4:29 PM | Report abuse

Wow, they really thought outside of the box. I have only been out of high school for just ten years and times have changed so much, so maybe its time for something drastic just like this.

Posted by: DC_1 | August 21, 2008 4:33 PM | Report abuse

In the end, we ALL work for $$$.. so why not. Besides, EVERYTHING has been tried with no success so why not try this out? A lot of the kids participate in illegal acts to help out their family. Perhaps the $ can help the parents with simple expenses so they don't need to have 2 jobs to pay for their kid's needs. Besides, Harvard is paying for 1/2. By the end of school year, Fenty can beat his chest and claim success!

Posted by: DeezNutz | August 21, 2008 4:33 PM | Report abuse

This is great for the kids who are already doing what they need to succeed. Money is not going to motivate kids to behave appropriately. Since my child is a few years off of middle school, I'd be thrilled for her to get $100 every 2 weeks for doing what I raised her to do. As mom she wouldn't have access to that money, it would go into her college fund and a separate savings account and we can have some life lessons in fiscal responsibility.

Posted by: DC Mom | August 21, 2008 4:38 PM | Report abuse

With whose tax money? I think it's time for me to move out of the District. I don't want my tax money going to this kind of nonsense forever.

Posted by: dcp | August 21, 2008 4:39 PM | Report abuse

Rewards for doing well occur everywhere else in life, why not school? And perhaps that tiny bit of money will keep a kid in school who otherwise would drop out to get a job. There are a lot worse ways to spend public money.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 21, 2008 4:46 PM | Report abuse

Think it is a great idea given the circumstances. Many children are having decide between school and work. In poor families this money would go a long way in paying for school expenses such as bus passes etc. I rather pay for this than unemployment or welfare.

Posted by: Ward 8 | August 21, 2008 4:48 PM | Report abuse

I hope these aren't violent schools where the teacher's safety can be threatened if she doesn't approve payment. And we wonder why politicians are crooked. They were probably nursed on this same motivational training: it's all good as long as I get mine.

Posted by: dcp | August 21, 2008 4:55 PM | Report abuse

Why use real money? I make and use "Scholar Dollars" in my classroom.

Students get a certain amount at the beginning of the quarter and earn more for perfect attendence (including no tardies), A's and B's, and for exemplary acts of kindness. Then at the end of the quarter students can choose to save their money for the next quarter or "buy" a reward.

However, students have to pay when they forget materials, need to use the bathroom etc. This teaches them personal and fiscal responsibility as well. My students love it.

Posted by: B | August 21, 2008 4:55 PM | Report abuse

It's obviously not ideal or the way any of us grew up, but nowadays, most of city kids would chose to join a gang/sell drugs to make money rather than stay in school. At least this way, school can compete.

Posted by: K | August 21, 2008 5:19 PM | Report abuse

Now I officially don't like this woman. "But would I do it for free? I'd have a hard time with that." Rhee doesn't seem to realize that kids who perform poorly in school will mostly be paying for it for the rest of their lives in the form of low earning potential.

Posted by: DCPS Alumnus | August 21, 2008 5:26 PM | Report abuse

In DC with regard to the minority population under 30 yo, you can basically pay for..........
1) Education
2) Prison
3) Welfare
4) Funerals

If you pay for the first, your costs for the other three go down.

Posted by: Education First | August 21, 2008 5:26 PM | Report abuse

How could it come to this?

Posted by: Derriere Chapeaux III | August 21, 2008 5:29 PM | Report abuse

I'm glad I was not the only one that was not rewarded with money for doing what I was supposed to do. I never got money for a good report card. i was supposed to get a good report card.

Everyone can paint the dismal picture of pay now or pay later. It's the same scenario. if the addict needs his fix he will get it one way or another. Just because you give them money now does not mean they will not revert to other means later. What does $200 a month buy these kids, but new sneakers and clothes. it's not a trust fund for college by no menas.

Posted by: OKNOW101 | August 21, 2008 5:38 PM | Report abuse

Responsible adults not fulfilling their obligation to their children.
And politicians not providing the necessary leadership.
It's taken decades.
It's time to end the cycle, break out of the box and give these kids a lesson in the reality that they can succeed in school and afterward.
Right now that lesson is lost. Often by 3rd grade.

Posted by: Education First | August 21, 2008 5:39 PM | Report abuse

In Holland, one of the countries with the highest percentage of heroin addicts, most addicts have full time jobs. Not prison sentences.
They pay taxes, pay mortgages, contribute to the economy, etc.
Here we lock them up and charge honest tax payers $30,000 a year to keep them here.
Who's making that money?
There is soooo much wrong here.

Posted by: Education First | August 21, 2008 5:43 PM | Report abuse

Cash ? How about $50 Gift Certificate to a School Catalog of Donated items from Nike, Computer Equipment, Sports Tickets, McDonalds, Books , Clothings, iPODS... .etc.

Posted by: Cash? | August 21, 2008 5:45 PM | Report abuse

And who pays for the staff to
1) produce the online catalog
2) warehouse the stuff
3) fulfill and ship the orders
4) document sales taxes
5) etc, etc, etc.
You're talking about creating a whole new jobs program in DC-ville.
I like the idea, as cash can be translated into all kinds of crap.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 21, 2008 5:56 PM | Report abuse

I think this is an interesting thought; very B.F. Skinner. I have to wonder how this will influence parent's willingness to take a greater role in their child's education if they know their kids are bringing home this much money.

The idea of kids attending school just because that's what they're "supposed to do" isn't working. I'm up for trying something different. Hats off to you D.C.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 21, 2008 6:36 PM | Report abuse

What if teachers or administrators can deduct from the student's biweekly income.
If all you have to do is show up and get $50 a week, that could be interpreted as an entitlement.
But if some folks can deduct from it, so you actually earn it, it might be an idea worth developing.

Posted by: Curious idea | August 21, 2008 6:49 PM | Report abuse

This is beyond ridiculous, and is incredibly desperate. Have we sunk to such a low level wherein we have to BRIBE our children to learn the value of education? I don't think so, but I think that THIS administration is looking for the easy way out of a difficult situation.

Like Barrack Obama has said, you are SUPPOSED to do well in school, it is not something to be financially. It is like the board of election paying District residents for going to the polls and voting on election day.

Posted by: Ward6ForNow | August 21, 2008 7:04 PM | Report abuse

Im sure this will work as well as the summer jobs program.

Posted by: Mooky | August 21, 2008 7:09 PM | Report abuse

My 'micro' social work professor often sprinkled anecdotes into lectures to illustrate a point. One of them was a boy in her case load who would not attend school. He said he felt stupid and bored there. He'd go maybe 2-3 times in a week. His foster family started paying him $5 for every day he went to school and did his homework. So he started going to school more consistently. And, amazingly enough, when he was in school most of the time he knew what the teacher was talking about and so DIDN'T feel stupid or even bored. They stopped paying him after a couple of months of great attendance.

Some people just need a bit of 'extra' to start behaving as they should. It will be interesting to see how this works on the larger scale.

And for those who said that DC kids don't have anything else to worry about: I worked in the DC public schools with Americorps all last year. We had a 2nd grader explaining that he didn't do his homework because his lights have been off for a week now. Another 3rd grader proudly explained that Uno was her favorite game- they played it every week when they visited her dad in jail. Our high schoolers often had jobs and/or children and very little parental support.

After having to work with some of those 'teachers' and enjoying students wandering into class 30-40 minutes late, I'm all for any new approach!

Posted by: Jess | August 21, 2008 7:09 PM | Report abuse

I'm scratching my head. And thinking. Why are they making such an announcement at a school that does not (presumably) have such problems? And then I wonder. Maybe something is being said about who might really get their hands on that money. Hmmmm.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 21, 2008 7:10 PM | Report abuse

Paying for achievement in school? My initial reaction is thats appalling. However, if I were a business owner and realized I could get my employees to perform better by a modest increase in pay (a common misconception - read any credible business text) I would do it.

While the amounts talked about seem extraordinarily excessive the concept seems reasonable. Clearly the normal expectation of family support to encourage student success is not working. With an adjustment to the amount I would support it. I wonder what the cost per srudent is already - if the potential payment is 1-5% more and the test shows a dramatic improvement than I would be for expanding it. No mention in this article what defines program success or what the current cost of education is.

Posted by: DC Dolts? | August 21, 2008 7:10 PM | Report abuse

It's better to penalize bad behavior. What about cutting child benefits to parents whose children are causing trouble?

Posted by: timothy | August 21, 2008 7:32 PM | Report abuse

Holy crap what a dumb arse idea. Show of hands from any one that knows of an entitlement program that has ever been phased out? How does this teach my kids anything other than the facts of GIVERNMENT?

Hey JackAZ Rhee, did it occur to you to start with 5 bucks?

How about pooling the dough for probation/truancy officers kicking little thug's butts if they're sharking the streets on school days.

Give me an infinite, mf, freaking break!

Don't worry about my kids Rhee! They have parents that care, work multiple jobs to be able to afford an alternate to the snake pit... you will never clean up.

damnyoureyes!

Posted by: Sow-Feast DC | August 21, 2008 7:35 PM | Report abuse

This is the worst idea ever. The last thing a kid at risk of dropping out needs is access to money with no strings attached. The money should be used to raise teacher salaries, hire additional teachers & counselors, or improve school resources.

Posted by: KC | August 21, 2008 7:35 PM | Report abuse

I am glad to finally read that Ms. Rhee's "out of the box" thinking is not particularly original or out of the box. All her 'creative approaches' have been tried elsewhere. It would really be exciting if she actually did come up with some imaginative approaches to education--but that would require thinking 'outside the box.'

Posted by: Marcia S | August 21, 2008 7:38 PM | Report abuse

I just see so many opportunities for corruption on this. Said earlier, the teachers might end up in danger when a student knows that a bad grade means no cash.
I don't think it's too far fetched that a gang could put a bunch of people on that pay roll fairly easily and use intimidation to keep them as "good students" to collect their pay.
Mentioned earlier, there is the concern with the facilitators of the funds, especially with D.C's track record, there's no telling who's pockets that money will line.
How long before there are news stories where teachers are taking their cut from a kid that really doesn't cut it but still gets the grades needed for a check?
I just see this as an excellent opportunity for the newspapers to wait for the next multi-million dollar scandal to hit the District. You guys make it too easy....

Posted by: Old school | August 21, 2008 7:50 PM | Report abuse

Hmmm...Harvard made 6 billion last year and expanded lower income/middle class scholarships by less than 30 million.

And now they are coughing up peanuts to make lab rats out of DC middle schoolers?

Sounds like the Communists giving money to athletes who bring home good medals, I mean gold medals.

That being said, "I can't wait to see how it works."

Posted by: Greg | August 21, 2008 8:00 PM | Report abuse

This is what it has gotten to. Paying kids to go to school. Prediction. These people will end up bribing teachers for good grades and for fixing the grade book. Those who take home the money will either spend it on drugs or their mothers will take it to buy crack.

Posted by: Out of here | August 21, 2008 8:16 PM | Report abuse

The problem I see with this idea is that the good student who has regular attendence will be reward for doing exactly what they would anyway. This policy should be to serve as a incentive for those students who don't meaure up to the standards set for them! You also need to know what the standards are for this program and who will determine if they are being met. And, the biggest guestion of all, how will it be paid for.

Posted by: jharmon | August 21, 2008 8:20 PM | Report abuse

This is the last straw for me. I'm voting with my feet and leaving, along with the nearly $30,000 I pay this culturally bankrupt banana republic. Disgusting. Why not take ths $2.7 million and efficiently spend it on thoe existin programs that seek to prevent illiterate and virtually unemployabl babies from having babies? Wait, that might actually be considered a public policy that targets the problem instead of the symptom of a problem... hardly the DC way.

DCPS cannot and will not ever become even modestly successful unless and until the pedomnantly poor, urban black community untertakes a cultural reawakening that denounces multi-generational dependency on enttlement programs, places fathers back into the family, arrests its run-away teen pregnancy rate, increases by orders of magnitude its literacy rate, renounces corporal punishment and other antiquated forms of child abuse masquerading as "discipline", and promotes a "pro snitching" coda in the ghetto. Paying middle-school students (in DCPS approxiately 90% of all students are black and 85% of these students come from relatively poor, single parent families in which the father plays almost no role) as a means of motivating students to go to school and perform well only confirms that the majority of DCPS parents are not up to the task of parenting. This is disgusting.

Posted by: PIM | August 21, 2008 8:36 PM | Report abuse

We already spend so much on schools and it's all a waste when students don't take advantage of it. The money is better spent getting people to show up and learn--that's the first step. Improvements in facilities, textbooks, computers, etc. are secondary. This is a better use of taxpayer money than fixing empty classrooms.

Posted by: Irene | August 21, 2008 8:38 PM | Report abuse

Rhee's salary is $275,000 per year. Asians are competitive. She is making school an Olympic event when it should be about helping students realize their potential because they have it in them and inspiring students to learn because of it. Sorry for the stereotype but it is true.

Posted by: jill | August 21, 2008 8:41 PM | Report abuse

At a salary of $275,000 per year, Rhee says she is not in it for the money. I had to climb back into my chair on that one. She hardly seems the altruistic type. Sure, she is in it for the money, and now she is insulting DC children, that they have no motivation to learn except if you throw some cash at them. She needs to work for that grotesque salary. The DC teachers are failing not the students. Anybody could tell you that.

Posted by: jill | August 21, 2008 8:49 PM | Report abuse

Is this an example of change we can believe in?

Posted by: DMM | August 21, 2008 8:53 PM | Report abuse

You have got to be kidding!!!! What the heck happened to parents expecting kids to go to school to obtain an education? A check? I guess the Summer Jobs program was not a big enough debacle! I am losing faith in Fenty fast. Each step we take further away from personal, parental and family responsibility is one step closer to complete madness such as this. My kids are 14 and 19 and I am 40 (yeah, I was young!) and I wish somebody would offer them money to go to school and get good grades. My kids completely understand that the education they go to school to obtain will benefit them. It is their investment in themselves. As a parent I fully understand that the things that they acquire unearned always means less than the things they earn for themselves. What's next? Coughing up cash when we don't want them to engage in teenaged sex, drugs and drinking? At what point do we get back to basics like parenting our kids? And how exactly will this work? And where do the money come from? What line of the budget is this? I mean by the time a kid graduates he could've earned how much exactly? WHOSE IDEA WAS THIS??? I challenge educators to come up with a way to hold parents more accountable. Where are they and what do they think about this? Oh I forgot they can't even get the kids to go to school, much less, encourage them to behave and learn something. Wow!

Posted by: lynde | August 21, 2008 9:16 PM | Report abuse

How can we pay the students when we can't even figure the teachers contract out? Pay the teachers what is due them. They are due back pay that has been held up in negotiation between the Union and Chancellor.

At least the kids won't have to worry about where their drug money is coming from. Why not teach kids how to invest their money?

Harvard Schmarvard...

Posted by: disappointed again | August 21, 2008 9:57 PM | Report abuse

This program is a rotten substitute for a failure to address the root problems of poor attendance and poor grades. The parent(s) apparently do not care enough about their children to spend quality time on homework. These same parents must not care about getting their kids to school. The rest of community, including churches, seem to be making no effort get involved with their children. The future of the community is non-existent, the past was not much better, and these same people complain about immigrants moving in, supporting themselves, and raising real families. These so-called U.S. citizens are not acting like citizens at all but rather dead-weights in failing society. When the police come to investigate nobody saw anything. What a sickening, rotten place to live these ghettos have become.

Posted by: THW2001 | August 21, 2008 10:16 PM | Report abuse

Just when you think she can't think of something even more stupid, there she goes again. Union buster, morale buster, now bank buster. I'm horrified at the thought of bribing children to go to school. This is so out of whack.

Posted by: didn't drink the Rhee kool-aid | August 21, 2008 10:24 PM | Report abuse

Very good idea. I wish they did this at my job, tacking on extra bonuses for showing up. I'm not being sarcastic.

Posted by: Hsoor | August 21, 2008 10:56 PM | Report abuse

School is not the equivalent of "work". Students don't produce a product or provide a service. Students are the ones who benefit from their actions -- not others...So I don't think the two are the same. And I have a 12 year old who's worked very hard in school her whole life, and she's looking at me now and asking, "Where's mine? Why not me." That's pretty tough. And I'm fairly certain I'll be hearing about this for a long time. Why don't they spend the three million dollars to improve instruction so that it's more engaging, relevant and motivating for the students? Now that'd lead to REAL long term gains!

Posted by: eag4301 | August 22, 2008 1:13 AM | Report abuse

D.C. Schools Chancellor Michelle A. Rhee announced plans yesterday to boost dismal achievement at half the city's middle schools by offering students an unusual incentive: cash.

This is one of the dumbest ideas coming out of Rhee's mouth.

The best incentives for students to do well are:

1. They won't grow up to be as stupid as Mayor Adrian McGreevey Fenty;

2. They won't grow up abusing drugs like Mayor Adrian McGreevey Fenty;

3. They won't have to agree to sleep with Mayor Adrian McGreevey Fenty in order to get a job with DC government;

4. They will get to go to college;

5. They will be able to find a decent job after college; and

6. They will feel good about themselves having done well now in school.

Posted by: Jonathan R. Rees, Sr. | August 22, 2008 2:50 AM | Report abuse

I find it interesting that everyone thinks it's a waste of money and time to pay the kids who are already doing well. Yes, it's meant to be an incentive to kids who are on the edge of dropping out, but why should a consistently good student get any fewer rewards than someone who is only improving to get the money?

Also, this is going to engender envy and trouble with other kids. 14 schools will be selected, but what about the rest? are they really naive enough to think that those kids aren't going to start making demands, saying if those kids get paid to go to school, they should too? Sure it might temporarily improve the situations at those 14 schools, but it will not be good for the district as a whole. And what about high school kids who busted their humps to do well in middle school? They missed the boat so other kids are going to get rewards that they didn't and those kids could still drop out.

Not to mention the parents having to deal with this. If they can't afford decent clothing or food or school materials for their kids, they'll really be in trouble when the kids expect cash for coming home at night and finishing their dinner and cleaning their room. This is a terrible idea.

Posted by: CB | August 22, 2008 8:41 AM | Report abuse

Why in the world would DC try to emulate the practices of a NYC education system that has been a general failure? Grant it, under Bloomberg, there have been some slight improvements, but there is a huge gap between those improvements and the pool of available "Best Practices in Education" that DC could implement or emulate.

Take a trip to China or India and see how a middle school child is educated; it aint pretty or easy, but it works for no where near what we spend here. Look where the US ranks when compared to other nations--middle of the pack. Under our spend-more-to-get-more logic, our performance should be significantly better. But it aint', and we spend more on education than almost all developed nations combined!

Posted by: Wrath of Reason | August 22, 2008 12:16 PM | Report abuse

This story made http://detentionslip.org! The leader for weird education headlines.

Posted by: hall monitor | August 22, 2008 5:04 PM | Report abuse

this is a good idea but then it is bad also.

Posted by: pooper scooper | August 23, 2008 8:06 PM | Report abuse

Money is an easy panacea. I doubt it will result in long term success.

This program is being implemented in middle schools. Since students won't be monetarily rewarded past then, will we see a sharp decline in student attendance and performance come high school?

No doubt this money could be better spent elsewhere in DCPS.

I grew up in DC and when it was time for my daughter to start school, I moved to northern VA. DCPS are an embarrassment and we have failed our children.

Posted by: Dani | August 24, 2008 10:53 AM | Report abuse

I always thought that charter school system would generate their own money to operate but it appears this mayor and Ms Chen just enjoy throwing money after bad. Charter school's students test scores are equal or a little higher than students in public schools. If they want a "role model" school system to mimic then they should look across DC city line, Montgomery County, MD as an example. It has been reported that Montgomery County school system is the second best school system in the nation. It appears that DC residents are, again, subjected to folks ripping this city of their funds. Funds that should help the residents of this city, especially the children. Paying studens to learn is not the job of the school system but left to the parent(s), family and guardians.
This program would put a strain a system in need of funds and instead of generating funds to help the school system, like the DC Lottery, it appears the mayor is helping his friends, friends who have a history of ripping this city off, instead.

Posted by: niyofu | August 26, 2008 11:32 AM | Report abuse

For the first time in my adult life, I'm really proud of DC schools.

Posted by: Dyveristee Hier | August 27, 2008 2:08 PM | Report abuse

More signs of a dying society.

Posted by: George | August 27, 2008 5:10 PM | Report abuse

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