Should We Bribe Kids And Teachers For Good Grades?

Here’s a question where money meets ethics: should kids be paid for good results in school? No, we’re not talking about parents dishing out the occasional $5 or $10 bill to junior for getting an “A”. Instead, there’s a new sheriff in town. Now schools and teachers are doing the giving and are handing out much more than most moms and dads. The details:

The fourth graders squirmed in their seats, waiting for their prizes. In a few minutes, they would learn how much money they had earned for their scores on recent reading and math exams. Some would receive nearly $50 for acing the standardized tests, a small fortune for many at this school, P.S. 188 on the Lower East Side of Manhattan.

And it’s not only the kids making money off the scores…

The children were unaware that their teacher, Ruth Lopez, also stood to gain financially from their achievement. If students show marked improvement on state tests during the school year, each teacher at Public School 188 could receive a bonus of as much as $3,000.

The objective of such programs, of course, is to give kids an incentive to learn more (which theoretically would be reflected on test scores.) But not everyone is buying this concept:

Critics of these efforts say that children should be inspired to learn for knowledge’s sake, not to earn money, and question whether prizes will ultimately lift achievement. Anticipating this kind of argument, New York City was careful to start the student experiment with private donations, not taxpayer money, avoiding some of the controversy that has followed the Baltimore program, which uses public money.

In these times where American education seems to be slipping compared to much of the world, is this a viable option for better educating children? Or is the concept of paying kids to do well on tests so full of ethical, moral, and social pitfalls that it’s destined to ultimately fail?

Next Question: Can Students Be Paid to Excel? [New York Times]



Edit Your Comment

  1. lightaugust says:

    I can’t even begin to describe what’s wrong with this.

  2. Echodork says:

    Students need a motivating factor to succeed. To think that “knowledge is its own reward” is silly and naive, and look where that approach has gotten us.

    Is there really a difference between gold stars and free money?

  3. B says:

    When they grow up, they’ll get paid to do a good job, so why not start now?

  4. thirdbase says:

    Great idea. No money no work just like in real life after school. Teachers on commission great idea. Your class does well you earn extra $$ just as it should be.

  5. mgy says:

    I’m a student teacher. Incentives are incentives, and I support this completely.

    MOST students don’t get an education so that they can get a job because “it’s own reward” – they get it so they can receive a paycheck. I wouldn’t sit in a cubicle for 4-8 hours a day (my *other* job) unless I received one.

  6. ezacharyk says:

    Considering that it is human nature to gain the most from the least amount of effort. So eventually we will have more shady kids cheating to get the best scores so they can get the most money.

    Also the same goes for the teachers. Although there will be less cheating on the teacher’s part, there will be less incentive to teach critical thinking.

    But this is the state of education after No Child Left Behind.

  7. AstroPig7 says:

    I can easily see unscrupulous parents taking advantage of this. I can also easily see this teaching children that greed is the only reason to get an education.

  8. mgy says:

    @mgy: That should read “because it is “its own reward”. I hit submit a little too fast.

    I also wanted to point out that this method is cheaper than hiring consultants and testing companies and buying new, unnecessary equipment in order to increase student performance. To high school kids – 20 bucks is all it takes to increase their motivation and performance. To high school administrators – $20,000 is.

  9. Erwos says:

    “We need to stop giving gold stars to kids as incentives to do well on their tests. They should be motivated by the desire to learn!”

    Gold stars or cash, both are incentives. I don’t see the difference.

  10. Smitherd says:

    @Echodork: You’re exactly right. Although I think knowledge is a great reward, the majority of kids are too involved with their texting and MySpace [God rest their souls] to care about learning. But if you translate paying attention and getting good grades into $50 cash, you’ve suddeny caught their attention.

    If you have a kid that is motivated to learn for the sake of learning, then that’s great; I applaud your parenting on many levels. Most kids are not this way, however, and we need something to motivate these kids.

    If current education scores and things were doing well, I would say it’s a waste of money. But, as we all know, standardized test scores are slipping fast. The thought of completely moronic, uneducated idiots running this country scares me on several levels. If it takes fifty bucks to get them to pay attention instead of zoning out with their iPods, then I say do it. For us, and for them.

  11. MeOhMy says:

    As a “smart kid” who often got the “Doesn’t work up to his potential” complaint from educators, a better motivator than an ‘A’ instead of a ‘B’ might have in fact been helpful to me.

    Unfortunately, this program cannot succeed because it is based on standardized testing scores which is not the same as actual learning.

  12. brent_w says:

    “Critics of these efforts say that children should be inspired to learn for knowledge’s sake, not to earn money,”

    I’ve never even heard of a chiled “inspired to learn for knowledge’s sake”. What a load.

  13. FilthyHarry says:

    On the surface this seems like a sensible direct cause and effect solution. However the long term impact to a developing child’s personality could be devastating.
    As to whether knowledge is its own reward being naive, I would reply that knowledge can be very rewarding as well as probably even more importantly there is the impact on a developing child’s mind of the actual process of learning. Equating the process of learning with failure with “look where that approach has gotten us.” is flawed because many people don’t seem to realize that the education system we take for granted as ‘the norm’ has only been in widespread use for less than 100 years. And keep in mind that that is 100 years out of approximately 150,000 years of human (meaning as smart as us today) history. When it comes to human education the story is far richer and involved than simply institutionalized classroom environments.

  14. A handful of problems I see with this:

    1) Kids whose parents have never really had much to do with education or measured response now AVID to make their kids succeed to bring in the money, creating neurotic parents and jittery kids. School depression is already high.
    2) The money is given directly to the kids, which takes spending power away from the parents, and the abilities to make decisions as to what the kids spend the money on (drugs or candy as opposed to, say, books or groceries).
    3) What someone else said about teachers cutting corners. This is already happening all over California in an attempt to keep up with the higher standards post NCLB. Throw money into that mix, and the kids will never see a thing that isn’t on the test.
    4) Why not take the money and put it into teacher training? Teach teachers how to make motivated students without incentives (including the blasted gold stars).

  15. This is bullshit. As a teacher, I am sickened by this nonsense because here’s what’s going to happen:

    Children are not going to become better educated in order to meet high standards. Standards will be — and have been — lowered. Last year, “proficient” meant “at grade level.” This year, “proficient” means “two years below grade level.”

    I saw Daniel Pink speak last week, and he delivered a great line. “We must,” he said, “prepare our children for their future, not our past.” Incentivizing high scores on left-brained activities — which will all be outsourced to India anyway — will put our students at a disadvantage. Reforming our curricula is the only way to go.


  16. RobinB says:

    Around here they want to start paying students who improve their scores on final/graduation required exams. So what’s to stop them from purposely doing poorly the first time around and grab the rewards after passing the next time?

  17. Asif5th says:

    Good, Teachers in this country don’t do enough. They’re a bunch of soccer moms on power trips. Stop complaining about your salary, if you do it because you love it, then money is the last thing you should be complaining about it. Go get a real degree.

  18. coko says:

    If we pay kids to become critically literate in language arts, mathematics, etc., I am all for it. But paying for test scores? Ugh. This just continues the (mis)conception that tests are a valid way to measure a student’s ability (or even achievement is an area like reading or math).

  19. alhypo says:

    A few people enjoy learning for its own sake, but those people will do well in school regardless of what incentives you provide, and they will often accomplish great things to the benefit of humanity. We do not need to worry about those people.

    Everyone else, however, needs incentives in order to preform well, as any economist can tell you. Arguing that kids should find intrinsic reward in their education is a moral judgment which lacks relevancy in regards to how the world actually operates. Reality is often cold and unattractive from an idealistic point of view, but without acknowledging as much you are doomed to flounder, economically speaking.

  20. XopherMV says:

    Today, athletes earn trophies and public accolades from great achievement in sports. This program is merely doing the same thing for academic achievement.

    For an inner-city population which believes they have more of a chance of success from pursuing the 1-in-a-million goal of becoming a professional sports player rather than success from pursing good grades and a good job, this is truly a great program that will adjust those misplaced notions.

    This is the best quote from the article:

    “Barbara Slatin, the principal of P.S. 188, on the other hand, said she was initially skeptical about paying students for doing well. Her students, many of whom live in the nearby housing projects along Avenue D, would surely welcome the money, she said, but she worried about sending the wrong message. “I didn’t want to connect the notion of money with academic success,” she said.”

    … Yes, because academic success NEVER means more money.

    Students NEED to make that mental connection. Students constantly wonder, “why should I learn this?” The answer boils down to money when they become adults, a time period so far away for students that many just don’t care. Putting money into their hands NOW makes that connection tangible.

    And hopefully it will kill the notion that athletes are more successful in life than the well-educated people who actually run the world.

  21. The Great Aussie Evil says:

    We should deregulate schools. You can do very well on a standardized test without knowing the subject.

  22. coko says:

    I have a Ph.D. in education and I am working on several additional certifications to my teaching credential. I do have real degrees.

  23. keith4298 says:

    Great, so the teacher concentrates a little extra on the kids that have the best chance of return on her time/investment. The kids so far behind don’t care because they aren’t in a position to get it.

    Why not give the money depending on class score instead of individual. You want to change the study habits of everyone….treat them as a group.

  24. fostina1 says:

    when i was in 8th grade (1991 i think) we had something similar. we got $50 per week to keep a B average and be there every day. i didnt complain.

  25. alhypo says:

    @loquaciousmusic: Yes, well that is why the reward system should be based on some sort of performance curve with a continuously adjusted mean and variance. As the students struggle to achieve higher percentile scores, the standards will creep ever higher each year. Each student’s reward should be proportional to her performance relative to that of her peers.

    I agree that artificially constructed standards are a bad idea.

  26. SaraAB87 says:

    Maybe instead of paying each student, they could put the money back into the classrooms to get new equipment and technology that would directly benefit the kids and give the kids something they want without directly paying them. The money could be put into new and fun gym equipment, more computers or put into a fund for a “fun day” for example.

    Directly paying the kids is probably bad, because who knows what they are doing with that money, and if parents know about this then they are likely pressuring kids to bring home the dough for various reasons, making school like a work environment and just adding more pressure, it gets worse if your kids aren’t as smart as the rest of the class (and not from lack of effort on the parents part).

    My parents gave me rewards, and said they would give me 50$ if I got into first honors in high school, and of course I did so I got the money. I got a lesser payment like 20$ if I got onto second honors. It worked for me but I wasn’t working exclusively for the money. Some parents gave their kids a lot more though, I know one kid who if they got on the deans list in college would get 500$ from their parents….

  27. cmdr.sass says:

    As always, people think throwing money at the problem will solve it. The problem with education in the US is societal, not financial.

  28. alhypo says:

    @keith4298: I think you missed the point. The teacher is rewarded based on the improvement of his entire class. The students are rewarded individually. If the teacher concentrates on only the most promising students, the neglected students will decline in performance and the class average will be pulled back down again. It is in the teacher’s interest to help everyone improve.

  29. lightaugust says:

    @Asif5th: “Soccer moms on power trips?” Really? Those seem like mutually exclusive concepts. Attitudes like that will be why Public Education will NEVER be seen as succeeding in this country, no matter what they do, what data and evidence they give, and what they do to develop their profession.

  30. @alhypo: Something I’ve noticed in my own students is that kids CAN lose interest in incentives fairly quickly, even if it’s something they initially desperately wanted. If I were to offer, say, money towards their favorite gaming account, I’m fairly sure only the students who are intrinsically motivated would still want the reward after a few weeks of hard work, and the rest would have convinced themselves “It’s only money.” or “Only a stupid game.”

  31. randombob says:

    I think it’s a valid tactic. Schools 50-60 years ago (and back further) you got an education to further yourself; there was a tacit correlation with your learnin’ and how well you were going to do. And if the kids couldn’t self-motivate? The parents whooped some ass!

    Well, we live in a different world now, and those tacit correlations between education and success aren’t as clear. Today, our kids are surrounded by more than they need to survive, they are knee-deep in MTV, MTV2, MTV14,007, Jackass, Power Rangers, Sugary cookies, et cetera et cetera. They don’t see school as a necessity to succeed, they see it as a place mommy & daddy send them to be babysat.

    It may not jive with the older in the audience, but motivation is motivation, and money is today’s motivation the way getting an education and getting off the farm was our great-great-grandparent’s motivation (or learning to farm better and more efficiently, same thing – “success”).

  32. @Asif5th: as I enjoy neither soccer nor motherhood at the moment, I find your stereotypes trollish.

  33. cerbie says:

    @Echodork: I agree students need motivation; but, since when was, “knowledge is its own reward,” used below universities?

  34. randombob says:

    The problem with the “relative to peers” thing is that then you can achieve prosperity by thwarting others.

    It needs to be a combination or tiered to get everyone involved.

  35. @cerbie: The trick is, and always has been, to make students enjoy learning, not to turn the phrasing back on kids when they ask why they’re doing this. Knowledge is and always has been its own reward.

    My students were complaining to me yesterday about how they have one teacher who NEVER teaches them anything, just writes their assignment on the board and sits behind her desk the whole period, unless the vice principal comes into the room. My kids WANT to learn history. They’re FASCINATED by it. We have lively discussions in my class about what they’re supposed to be learning in their history class, but the teacher has decided to withhold that joy from them.

  36. smitty1123 says:

    Kids with good grades = continued employment
    Kids with bad grades = fired

    Good grades = potentially better paying easier job in the future
    Bad grades = minimum wage for life

    Sounds to me like the reward/punishment system is already in place.

  37. cerbie says:

    @Echodork: I agree students need motivation; but, since when was, “knowledge is its own reward,” used below universities? More like, “your obedience makes our jobs easier.”

    Yes, there is a difference between gold stars and free money. I would have gotten better grades in my more boring classes for money :).

  38. theblackdog says:

    I feel that if I had kids and their school gave them money for A’s, it should go into a savings account rather than allowing them to spend it. I’d probably make that account for college savings as well.

  39. Falconfire says:

    @The Great Aussie Evil: You can also know the subject and do terrible on standardized testing.

    Basically the point is, standardized testing has been shown time and again to be flawed beyond measure, yet is STILL used as a tool. I could list for days the scientifically proven reasons why you CANT standardize a childs ability to learn, but its pointless because people like to see numerical results and a good portion of kids just cant show that for various reasons.

    But as to the topic at hand, I can easily tell you EXACTLY why its a evil system.

    Special Needs Children

    Subject a teacher to a class with 2-3 special needs children who are mainstreamed and 3-4 bright kids and lets see who suffers in the end. The problem in education is government involvement. The teachers are only doing right now what they are allowed to by law, and when the law says that your entire class has to meet a minimum level no matter what the disability (IE No Child Left Behind) then the smart students are going to severely suffer.

    And when the law makes it illegal to separate kids based on ability, then your going to never be able to let the good students meet their level of ability, and the poor students get the help they need.

    Basically what we have here in the main article is a system that from the getgo is designed to be abused. There is a very good reason both the Unions, and people who make it their lives to study how best to help children learn are up in arms over this idea of a system. Kids are going to be thrown into classrooms of teachers they want to punish, and students are going to be forced forward to learn the in and outs of a test and not be able to actually LEARN.

    Back when I was a student we spend 2-3 weeks before these types of tests to help us in prepping for it. Today they spend the entire school year.

  40. utensil42 says:

    I agree that most students need incentives because learning is not its own reward to them. However, basing incentives on standardized tests is not the right way to go. Standardized tests do not test actual knowledge or critical thinking abilities (something our country sorely lacks), but instead the ability to “learn the test.” Try giving rewards to students who have shown improvement in their reading or writing abilities, or who have shown they can think critically.

  41. KenSPT says:

    @Asif5th: As someone who has two teachers as parents, and a girlfriend in her third year teaching, you my friend can go to hell.

    Teachers are underpaid based on the amount they go through. Too many uncaring parents see school as nothing more than a publicly funded daycare that gets their kids out of their hair for 8 hours a day, and that attitude rubs off on their disrespectful kids.

    People on the outside looking in have no idea what teachers go through, they simply see the benefits that go along with the position.

    Critics see nothing but the summers off, the holidays, and whatnot. They think teachers live this life of leisure. What they don’t see is that teachers have to put up with alot of spoiled brat kids with no desire to learn and more of a desire to cause trouble. Teachers have to put up with parents who think they know it all, and others who don’t seem to care at all yet blame the teacher when their kid stays back a year. Teachers have to go home and correct papers, come up with plans for the class, and do other duties that go along with the position. Teaching isn’t a 7-3 position like people think it is, teaching is a 7 day a week commitment during the school year.

    Teachers do all of this while sometimes having to hold a second job just to make ends meet, because their pay is so low by todays living standards.

    Yes, teachers teach because they love it, but they sacrifice a lot in order to do what they love. Yet people like you seem to not care about those sacrifices, since you simply say, “Don’t complain about your salary”.

    Until you’ve seen a genuinely good, caring person who is a teacher with a desire to help others, come home from work crying because her kids were so unruly and disrespectful to her all day, don’t start talking to me about what kinds of people teachers are.

    Any opportunity to throw more money in the pockets of teachers is something I applaud, as is any way to get kids more interested in furthering their education.

  42. alhypo says:

    @cmdr.sass: That’s just it: Throwing money does not help as this implies the funds are being directed carelessly. Channeling the money where it will do the most good, however, is not careless at all.

    Some societal problems can be addressed financially. When you start a new job, especially at entry-level, you basically have negative productivity. The company is loosing money by taking you on, but they still pay you trusting that in the long run, you will become productive for them.

    Children are rather deficient in their abilities of foresight, so we need to say to them: “Look, you may not recognize the value of doing well in school now, but trust me, it will pay dividends later on in life. Not convinced? Well, to prove it to you, I’m going to put up some cash right now as encouragement. My future well-being is dependent on your future productivity, so I’m willing to make this small investment to encourage you to do well in school.”

    Our willingness to pay them is not merely an incentive; it is also a demonstration of how important their educations are. Rational consumers do not just give up money for any stupid reason.

  43. mgy says:

    @SaraAB87: Because new fun gyms, new computers, fun days and everything you listed is pointless in terms of educating children. In fact, this is EXACTLY why public schools are such a money pit. Pools do not help teach children. I do. I need the occasional textbook, my voice, and some slides.

    @smitty1123: A witty comment, but unfortunately, teachers aren’t accountable for their students’ bad grades in most districts I’ve seen. Teachers unions ensure that it’s close to impossible to fire a teacher for that sort of thing. I’ve seen cases of sexual contact between teachers and students where the teacher has not been kept out of teaching. As for students – the “potentially better paying easier job in the future” isn’t enough for kids. Especially the ones who see no future for themselves. If they had their mother on their backs every night encouraging them to study up so that they would look good to Stanford, I’m sure things would be different. Your comment just doesn’t reflect reality.

  44. Steve Trachsel, Ace says:

    When I was young we got things like pool parties and outdoor activities to reward us for behavior/working hard/testing well.

    Then the lawsuits came and those went away.

    Then they created gifted student rewards, letting the smarter kids study in different ways and visit museums and exhibits.

    Then the PC patrol showed up, and that went way

    Then the offered pizza and ice cream parties to reward us for working hard/doing extra work.

    Then the calorie cops showed up and those went away.

    This is what happens. Now they spend millions bringing in educational consultants who tell them basic logical things like “kids like rewards” and “full stomachs are good for learning”. Meanwhile schools in poor areas get worse. Lets be honest, middle and upper class kids see the benefit of schooling by looking at their parents and those of their peers. Lower class students dont. I dont know where the numbers are now, but the when I was in school the numbers of kids who came from parents with 4 year degrees who went to college was like 100 times the number of kids whos parents didnt have degrees who went to college.

    Background is the biggest determining factor of success (Ive argued that this is why minorities wound up in bad mortgages more often too). If you dont have the support system to succeed other things need to be tried.

  45. bukz68 says:

    Fantastic! – let’s give kids MORE money to buy drugs and get into trouble. That would surely help them learn the skills that will enable them to be, at the very least, NORMAL FUNCTIONING ADULTS… But then again I suppose that’s not one of those “rewards” that people value.

    I love the law of unintended consequences.

  46. cerbie says:

    @brent_w: really? Never? Ever? You’ve never seen a kid who wanted to learn martial arts, computer programming, chess/go/etc., camping and related activities, astronomy, or so on, because they actually enjoyed it?

    Schooling is a wholly different animal from learning, and often one that kills the enjoyment of learning, what learning is, and how one may do it.

  47. coan_net says:

    When my son was potty training, he was not working very hard at it – but then I had a little plastic tub filled with some new cars – along with a couple of new DVD movies that he would like – a good “pee” gets him a car. A good “poop” got him a movie. It was a good incentive to get him to learn the routine in which after awhile, the rewards kind of “disappeared” and he continued with what he learned.

    Now my kids in 1st grade. First have of the school year he did really poor in spelling, and he did not want to study the spelling words at home. I now bribe him – he gets a new DS game for every A he gets on the test. So now when he does not want to study, I gently remind him what he could get if he gets an A on the test – and *poof* he is willing to study the words some. He has also been getting the A’s on the test, and doing much better. And soon, like the rewards for potty time – the DS game rewards will slowly disappear and hopefully he will keep going on what he is now doing automatically.

    So for schools & teachers to reward kids for doing good. Why not? Even though I think a 5-pack of candy bars would be as much as an incentive as $10-$50 for some kids.

  48. MeOhMy says:


    Kids with good grades = continued employment
    Kids with bad grades = fired

    Teachers are not often fired because the kids aren’t doing well. There are usually enough that do OK to make it impossible to prove that the poor students are doing poorly because of a poor teacher.

    The other problem is that the greatest teacher in the world cannot possibly motivate kids with drug dealer parents who are too worried about whether dad is going come home drunk tonight and beat the crap of them to worry about homework.

    The educational process is a joint effort between students, teachers and parents. Making one party responsible for the others just doesn’t work.

  49. mgy says:

    @Asif5th: I agree!

    “Their hefty salaries are driving up taxes, and they only work nine or ten months a year! It’s time we put things in perspective and pay them for what they do… baby-sit!

    We can get that for less than minimum wage. That is right. I would give them $3.00 dollars an hour and only the hours they worked, not any of that silly planning time.

    That would be $19.50 a day (7:45 AM to 4:00 PM with 45 min. off for lunch).

    Each parent should pay $19.50 a day for these teachers to baby-sit their children.

    Now, how many do they teach in a day… maybe 30? So that’s 19.5 X 30 = $585.00 a day. However, remember they only work 180 days a year! I am not going to pay them for any vacations.

    Let’s see . . .. that’s $585 x 180 = $105,300 per year.

    What about those special teachers and the ones with master’s degrees? Well, we could pay them minimum wage just to be fair, round it off to $7.00 an hour. That would be $7 times 6-1/2 hours times 30 children times 180 days = $245,700.00 per year.”

  50. Techguy1138 says:

    @brent_w: I was inspired for knowledges sake.

    I didn’t receive rewards or gifts for doing well. My grades were never that great but I really learned. Far more than just subject materials. I searched and found material that was interesting to me.

    I continue to be odd but watching TV has quelled much of my desire to learn. Soon I’ll be normal.

    Then again teaching sounds like a plan.

  51. coan_net says:

    Opps – sorry, he got a sticker for each good pee & poop – and after 10 stickers, he got a DVD. A DVD for each poop would have been a lot of DVD’s

  52. Asvetic says:

    Well be a nation of rich test takers.

    If they’re going to give these kids money, they should at least give them the fundamental understanding of fiscal responsibility.

  53. jedipunk says:

    Sounds like the school bully is going to get a lot richer. Lunch money was little league stuff.

  54. hollywood2590 says:

    @Asif5th: This is probably the dumbest thing I’ve ever read on the internet. And that is truly an accomplishment in ignorance. So by your own writing, being a teacher means they don’t have a real degree and therefore shouldn’t be complaining about their salaries. Of course with this statement, you are outright stating that people with “real” degrees wouldn’t be teachers. And why wouldn’t these people who you clearly deem to be better be teachers? Because they wouldn’t get paid enough to be.

    So thats why we get stuck with people you deem to be inferior. Seriously, what kind of logic are you using?

  55. @mgy: bless the maths.

  56. Steve Trachsel, Ace says:

    @KenSPT: I disagree with a piece of your diatribe. Teachers are paid well by living standards. The national average salary of a teacher is 47,602. In California, a high cost state, its nearly $60k. So a married pair of teachers who have been teaching for a couple years makes from 90k to 120k on average.

    Obviously extra degrees equal extra pay, and coaching or sponsoring clubs does too.

    Im not saying that teachers are well off, but in most communities a pair of 26 or 27 year olds who are both teaching are smack dab in the middle of the middle class.

  57. alhypo says:

    @randombob: I agree. Any model will have deficiencies, and a pure “dog-eat-dog” model is probably not ideal. I was more concerned with the possibility that the standards might be set artificially low and therefore, they need to be adjustable over time.

    But it is the very nature of everyone trying to do better than everyone else which makes us so productive to begin with, so this element should not be completely discarded. It can and will result in unethical behavior, but it is just as important to have experience dealing with the cheaters as any other experience. There are cheaters out there in the real world. We’ve read about a few of them on this very website.

  58. Blueskylaw says:

    Next thing you know, we will be paying motorists to come to a complete stop at stop signs.

  59. Blueskylaw says:


  60. Steve Trachsel, Ace says:

    @Blueskylaw: We do, in the form of lower insurance and no tickets.

  61. KenSPT says:

    @Tracy Ham and Eggs: You must understand the system in which teachers get paid. Yes, that may be the average, but it takes a while for teachers to reach that level.

    I live in CT, the state with the highest paid teachers in the country. A teacher straight out of college makes between $30K-$35K depending on where they teach. Yes, earning a degree earns you more money, but that’s not an immediate jolt to your income, plus there’s the expenses that go along with attempting to get that degree.

    $30-$35K is not a lot when you have student loans, rent, and other expenses that go along with life.

    Yes. teachers can earn upwards of $50K, but it would take them 10-15 years to get there. Looking at the average and saying, “That’s more than enough” is an incorrect assumption, because it takes a while for a teacher to reach that level.

  62. Dacker says:

    I think this will setup the kids for a lifelong expectation that they should be rewarded for simply doing what is expected of them. I’m fine with rewards for going “above-and-beyond”, but not for the ordinary.

    Just this week, my 6th-grade son and almost all sixth-graders, went to the local ice rink during school hours as a reward. What did they have to do to ‘earn’ this privilege? Just have a C-average and $10. Great, mediocrity is rewarded. Oh, don’t forget that the “C” is most likely part of the increasingly-prevalent grade-inflation to boot.

    This week is also finals week at my daughter’s high school. (They are on a trimester system.) She got to skip one of her finals for having perfect attendance. Jeez! It’s also routine for getting extra credit for getting some silly form returned.

  63. lightaugust says:

    I don’t think the argument is that this won’t work at all… many of us in education know that kids will do lots of things for monetary reward in the short term. However, without the intrinsic motivations, it won’t last much past Junior High. Every high school educator I know has seen a kid drop out of school because the immediate rewards elsewhere were too great, whether it was selling drugs on a corner or because someone convinced them that some minimum wage job was the way to go because you’d get a paycheck, no matter how piddling. All this does is back up the notion that the immediate an external reward is the only thing worth doing something for, not investing for the long term. It will most definitely work in the short term. But like everything else we talk about on Consumerist, the interest is a bitch.

  64. lightaugust says:

    @Tracy Ham and Eggs: Having been a teacher, you’re right, it’s not a bad life… but I think it’s only fair to point out in an apples with apples kind of way, that most teachers have to get their Masters’ Degree. And when you compare the earnings levels across both those with collegiate degrees and especially, those with Masters’ Degree, the income levels become VASTLY disproportionate.

  65. ElasticSyntax says:

    Incentives for students work if done correctly. The “Quantum Opportunities Program” is a great example.

    As for teachers, as was pointed out in Freakonomics, incentives make teachers cheat.

  66. Steve Trachsel, Ace says:

    @KenSPT: As it does in a lot of industries. Im not saying teaching salaries arent on the low side, but the cries of poverty ring false. Plus you have benefits (and pretty good ones) from day one, summers off (which is a benefit, if teaching was year round a 15-20% pay bump would follow) and unmatched job security.

  67. Leiterfluid says:

    “Hard work is its own reward.”

    Not everything your little snowflakes will do in life will result in an outcome that directly benefits them. They need to learn this early in life; instead of after college, when they’ve gotten their master’s degree in philosophy by staying in the 5-year program, and can only find work as the guy who scoops the fries into the cardboard containers at MickeyD’s.

    The American Public Education system is bad enough as it is, thanks to the teachers’ unions and disinterested parents, this is just going to exacerbate the problem.

  68. sarahandthecity says:

    I’m not sure why this is a bad idea. I got paid for grades and I turned out fine, why not give the same option to kids whose parents can’t afford it? As much as people talk about personal responsibility, there are so many neighborhoods where studying to someday maybe be able to go to college and get a good job seems like a pipe dream. we live in a culture of immediate gratification-get over it. As for cheaters, i say get caught cheating and you are ineligible for money for a certain amount of time. And if it sounds expensive to buy kids off for getting good grades and staying in school, how much do you think welfare costs?

  69. tokenblackgirl says:

    I agree, as someone who was educated in the american education but spent my first 13 years in school in London and Nigerian, Americans are fucked.

    This is one womans opinion, but this society doesnt place much value on education. School is taken for granted, its not a previlege, its a right, something they are entitled to and therefore they never take it seriously cause they aren’t footing the bill.

    Try telling that to a kid who goes to “free” public school in nigeria, when your family has to pay for basic things for “free” school like uniforms, books, transportation, you bet your ass you will work hard. Also, to all you people who complain about standardized test, are you fucking kidding me? the standards in this country are a joke.

    i moved here for 9th grade, except for history class ( cause i knew nothing about american history) i didn’t do any studying till i was in 11th grade and started doing calculus. Everything else I had already learned.

    I remember in my first class in 9th grade, i asked the teacher if the math test was a joke cause i learned that in this country’s equivalent of 6th grade.

    Wish i could be more extensive but sadly i’m at work bitches.

  70. mgy says:

    @SpiderJerusalem:Plus, teachers educate your kids instead of just letting them play house.

  71. KenSPT says:

    @Tracy Ham and Eggs: That’s the normal reaction from someone on the outside of the education field. I understand where it comes from, but it’s uninformed.

    Until you see what teachers go through first hand, especially this day in age, you truly cannot understand how difficult the position truly is.

    What teachers put up with on a daily basis from students, parents, administration, and other staff members as well makes the position extremely undesirable … even with all the “perks” that you’ve mentioned.

    Don’t start talking to me about the benefits of teaching as a profession until you’ve actually done it. Most of the critics of teachers, and this plan, wouldn’t last a week in a classroom.

  72. yetiwisdom says:

    @KenSPT: As pointed out by other posters such as Tracy Ham and Eggs, teachers are paid in line with the professional sector. I am close friends with a teacher who loves to regale me with tales of how easy it has been to get her Masters+66 to max out her pay. Apparently a lot of these classes are 1-day or 3-day deals held by marginally reputable providers but that satisfy the requirements of the state.

    So before we go on about how altruistic our teachers are, how about a reality check:
    1: In the private sector who gets paid based on completing classes? Very few.
    2. In the private sector who gets 3 months a year off to pursue other income if desired?
    3. In the private sector who gets “guaranteed” jobs?

    If I want to get my masters it’s at least partially on my dime and there’s no guarantee that a pay increase will follow. Similarly, I don’t get 3 months a year to work somewhere else or take classes. Last, if I f@#k up at work, or don’t perform, I get fired.

    IMHO, teachers get a pretty good deal and the pervasive sense of entitlement that your post embodies is a large part of the problem with education – “woe is me, I who chose to teach”. If you love it, fine, that’s your choice, but can the sob story. If it’s so bad get into another line of work for goodness sakes.

    That said – I think pay-for-performance is a great model that should be applied to education. Your kids have declining scores and attendance and engagement is poor – you get put on a “performance plan” to shape up or ship out. Conversely, your kids show an increase in scores and other metrics, you get a bonus.

  73. MeOhMy says:

    @KenSPT: $30-$35k PLUS your summer job. My wife was a teacher in a past life. She wasn’t getting rich, but it’s pretty solid even at entry level.

  74. XopherMV says:

    Giving money for grades is the SAME as giving gold stars to children who do well on their homework. People seem more upset with the money because that reward is actually -GASP- meaningful. To them, a worthless star is perfectly acceptable, but a reward that is actually significant is just too much.

    Giving money for grades is the SAME as giving trophies to student athletes. If you perform well, then you get a reward. The better you perform, the bigger the reward. Incidentally, that is exactly how the real world works. The better you do in school, the more likely you are to become a doctor, lawyer, MBA, etc. However, many students don’t realize that fact until they become adults, far past the time when they could use the information. Hence, the continuous questions of “why should I learn this?”, whether the “this” is algebra, chemistry, physics, biology, history, etc.

    Why should we treat our student scholars any less than our student athletes? THAT is a thought that is bullshit.

  75. EmperorOfCanada says:


    As a guy who has struggled with my weight my entire life, and have only just recently started to get it under control, I just want to comment that with kids you should try to never equate food with a reward. I shouldnt say never, but you get my point?

    Everything else in your post sounded quite reasonable to me.

    @the artice itself
    I suppose we wont really know unless we try? I think trying this is definitely better than doing nothing!

  76. A.W.E.S.O.M.-O says:

    @tokenblackgirl: Sure learned a lot about proper capitalization too.

  77. Steve Trachsel, Ace says:

    @KenSPT: Im not complaining about the pay-for-performance. I love the idea. But dont say I dont know about teaching. My mother taught in Baltimore City. I went to a teaching college. My best friend, and a majority of my other friends are teachers. I know what Im talking about, so dont go around yelling “uninformed” at people who disagree with you.

    Teachers arent the only people who deal with abusive “customers” and bosses. The biggest problem is that the best teachers arent paid like it.

  78. Trai_Dep says:

    How about charging parents if their kids get below C’s, and gifting them if their kids get A’s?

    Well, unfair for various reasons, but if a kid isn’t in class learning for its own sake, it’s because parents have done a crappy job of explaining the value of not being an imbecile. Teachers can only mold the clay they’re stuck with – seems unfair to blame them for teaching learning-hostile kids.

  79. ThinkerToys says:

    There will be a significant number of students and teachers who will cheat to ‘earn’ these rewards. We see plenty of cheating already with the various standardized testing requirements for state and federal funding. How much worse will it be when there are individuals directly benefiting? How much more administrative oversight will be required to ensure aboveboard results?

    Public education in this country is dead. What we are witnessing with programs like these are the vultures feeding from its corpse.

  80. yetiwisdom says:

    @KenSPT: I love your post, which boils down to effectively “my job is harder than your job! nyah!”

    How bout we just say “Don’t start talking to me about the benefits of “X” as a profession until you’ve actually done it. Most of the critics of “X” wouldn’t last a week in “X locale”.

    Where we can replace X with stockbroker, hairdresser, consultant, freelancer, trash truck driver, CEO, pizza delivery guy, road crew…

    Oh and just to save time, my mother was a teacher for 15 years and I was a teacher’s aide. Mom got fed up and became a stockbroker and is retiring a wealthy woman…

  81. Anitra says:

    It’s a bad idea to do this across the spectrum. Money may work as a motivator for some, but for others, it will teach them that nothing is worth doing unless they can get paid for it.

    @tokenblackgirl: I think most of the complaining about standardized tests is not because they’re too hard, but because the system depends on them as the only measure of how a student/teacher/school is doing. The increasing number of standardized tests is decreasing the quality of teaching.

    Also, I’m guessing they don’t have truancy laws in Nigeria. I think there are a lot of U.S. kids who would be better off NOT continuing in school, but our system requires everyone to attend through their late teens (16 in most states, I believe). This is why too many teachers have turned into glorified baby-sitters. The kids don’t want to be there, but they can’t go anywhere else, either.

  82. KenSPT says:

    @yetiwisdom: First off, many, many jobs give incentives to young kids to go back to school.

    Also, if you want to get technical about it, don’t you demand more money in the private sector if you have a higher level of education? Sure, it’s not as clear cut as “This Degree = This Much More Money”, but the more educated you are the more money you’re worth in a field of your choosing.

    I can vouch for that first hand.

    As for your “summers off” point, don’t even get me started as to how uninformed that is. I could write a book, but sadly I don’t have that type of time.

    As for your third point, a teachers job is far from guaranteed.

    Sure, when you’re tenured it’s much more difficult for them to get rid of you, but there are many systems out there who weed out young teachers a few years in for that very reason. They come up with a reason to toss them prior to being tenured, most of the time they blame it in budget cutbacks. I’ve seen it happen to friends on more than one occasion. It’s another one of those situations where you have to see it first hand to understand and appreciate it.

    Also, in the private sector, if you get a degree in say Marketing, are you required to pass a test prior to getting most jobs?


    In teaching however, young individuals coming straight out of college who want to teach at public schools have to not only pass a Praxis test their first year of teaching but they also have to pass a portfolio detailing their methods and techniques their second or third year.

    Standardized testing, and an entire presentation which basically says your qualified to do the job you earned a degree to do.

    Fail either of those, and you’re out of a job, and it’s much more difficult for you to find another one because of the stigma attached to that within the industry.

    Yes, you can get around that by teaching at a private school, but the pay is significantly lower than public.

    Teachers are held to a higher standard by the outside world, and are made to jump through hoops by the state in order to do what they love to do. As such, the desire to teach that so many young teachers have is sucked out of them before they even have a chance to swim in the deep end.

    It’s not “woe is me, I who chose to teach”, it’s simply a disrespect for the profession from uneducated , ignorant, individuals who believe teachers have it “pretty good”.

    You look at the positives and ignore the negatives.

    Like I said, most critics wouldn’t last a week in the classroom.

  83. Jaysyn was banned for: says:

    @mgy: That works for me. Some of my teachers in highschool were worth even more than that!

  84. Coelacanth says:

    Having been exposed to several different types of school systems, there’s much to be said by creating an incentive program for students to achieve more. However, I think the reward is actually too large for the students.

    For the naysayers, money can be used in interesting ways to brainwash people into thinking they enjoyed working really hard for non-financial reasons. If you inspire students to put their effort into achieve something for a relatively insignificant financial reward, in hindsight, they’ll realise the effort wasn’t worth the token reward. Subconsciously, the most powerful response is to convince oneself that they really must have enjoyed the activity they were doing.

    @brent_w: I tutor several of low-income students, and you’d be amazed how many of them are curious about learning and come with lots of questions about math and science that have nothing to do with their homework. When I tell them they’ll learn more about it in a few years, they practically beg me to answer their question anyway. If that’s not “learning for knowledge’s sake,” I don’t know what is.

    @keith4298: That’s an excellent idea. If you reward the entire class, or not at all, you’re creating a cooperative learning environment that has strong social incentives that’re probably more powerful than the financial one. Also, perhaps the students would also end up teaching each other, bringing up everyone’s scores.

  85. cerbie says:

    This is one womans opinion, but this society doesnt place much value on education.

    @tokenblackgirl: you can say that again. As usual, these multitudes screw over the minority that does care, but lacks time and funds to provide better.

    Also, to all you people who complain about standardized test, are you fucking kidding me? the standards in this country are a joke.

    @tokenblackgirl: that’s the point. Worrying over tests makes things worse, when they weren’t good to begin with. While not ahead as far as curriculum, I only went a few miles—not across oceans—but was far ahead of my new classmates in anything that did not involve pure regurgitation; while I performed poorly when it was requested, since it was fairly alien to me (like algebra, by memorization: WTF).

  86. bizzz says:

    Teachers want more pay? Great! Too bad their unions (and by default, them) are the ones holding back their opportunities for higher salaries.

    Extra pay/bonuses for good teachers and the ability to weed out (fire) bad teachers are reforms consistently blocked by every teacher’s union in the country.

    Until the teachers can overcome that hurdle, they have to resign themselves to a pay rate based on the worst teacher in their district.

    However, back to the original topic, if you really want to improve education, stop experimenting on our kids. Fuzzy math, whatever weird spelling they are teaching these days (omg, texting 101?), etc. etc. etc. Every five years or so cirriculums drastically change meaning the student is starting over from ground zero. There are proven systems out there that other countries use. What’s the fascination with constantly reinventing the wheel? Your lack of consistency is wrecking generations of students.

  87. timsgm1418 says:

    I can’t even imagine getting paid for grades. I tried to get A’s because I wanted to do well. I’m not really sure how I feel about this, but I’m thinking it’s teaching people to only do well if you get a reward from it. I would think the reward for doing well in school would be a better job after school is over. I went to school with kids that got paid for their grades and kids that didn’t and I never saw any difference in performance, I did notice the ones that got paid were more willing to cheat to get good grades. I just don’t think there always needs to be a financial gain for doing well, sometimes being told “good job” should be enough or just knowing you did a good job. I guess I do know how I feel about it, I think it’s making a bunch of greedy little kids. Maybe a better choice would be the money goes into a fund for college instead of being given directly to the kids. Maybe I’m just living in my own little dream world.

  88. MissPeacock says:

    @yetiwisdom: THANK YOU. Most jobs don’t give you tenure, making it nearly impossible to be fired, no matter what your job performance, not to mention state mandated raises and super-cheap government-funded health insurance. As for salary, everyone starts out low. My first job out of college paid me $23k/year. I hear more teachers bitch about their jobs than anyone else. If you don’t like it, quit. No one else wants to hear about it. Tons of other people put in huge amounts of unpaid over time and have to deal with difficult people all year long, without the numerous breaks of paid time off.

  89. tokenblackgirl says:

    @A.W.E.S.O.M.-O: yes because when typing hurriedly at work, i need to worry about punctuation.

    By jove you have hit the nail on the head, without proper punctuation, you can’t read what i’m typing at all.

    @Anitra: um….what? Nigeria has WAEC and England has the A levels, which are high standardized tests. We do take standardized tests. Also, your high school equivalent is done at 16 and 17 respectively, more so 16.

    I was put back one grade when i moved here, placed in ESL ( even though i spoke with a clear British accent) just because i had a foreign passport, and still graduated high school at 17.

  90. Steve Trachsel, Ace says:

    @KenSPT: Since you responded to most of my points in the previous post Im going to rebut your argument again.

    First, saying “you wouldnt last a week in the classroom” is bad form. Im guessing most teachers couldnt switch to another industry easily either.

    There isnt a stigma for failing the Praxis. I know a number of teachers who failed it the first go round. The Portfolio test you refer to is a local thing, but most school systems provide time for teachers to prepare for it.

    Teachers do get summers off. After a few years of teaching the lesson plans are done already. Most teachers could, if they chose to, work a summer job for an additional income source.

    I think saying its a guaranteed is going to far, but you cant say teachers dont have much better job security then most private sector employees.

    You dont have to worry about downsizing, corporate mergers, companies going out of business, paychecks bouncing, outsourcing or jobs being moved out of state. You have a multi-level appeal process before you can be removed. If you dont get along with your boss there isnt much they can do other then bother you.

    In exchange for those benefits you get reduced pay. Thats how it works. If we had a pay for performance system there would be higher overall pay for teachers, but the standards would be higher.

  91. rewinditback says:

    not sure if its been said – but montessori schools are adamantly against rewards for doing right.

    I am always seeing young people today with a selfish ” whats in it for me ” attitude. What about, whats not in it for you – like a future? just working hard and getting the A should be the reward… these reward systems build expectations mechanisms in children. Good luck saying ” can you pick your toys up “, without the expectation of ” wheres my reward” to follow.

  92. tz says:

    But if they shouldn’t be paid for learning, shouldn’t they paid anyway if they emerge from school illiterate?

    Beyond that , school these days is so bad that they have to drug the kids to make thm not fidget or sleep.

    Most kids like learning. The problem is that it is very difficult to do during school hours.

    Should we pay doctors and nurses to cure people?

  93. ErinYay says:

    Learning for learning’s sake would be great if that’s what the American educational system was about. A kid can learn everything without ever doing his or her homework or taking a test, and love the learning process, and still fail out of school.

    We are forcing children to learn how to work, not to learn facts and figures.

    For this, they should absolutely be paid.

  94. Elcheecho says:

    privatize Education woot!

  95. cerbie says:

    @tokenblackgirl: it’s not a matter of taking standardized tests, but concentrating on them (at the cost of other ways to use a limited amount of time). When actual material is being taught, a standardized test can give a pretty good indicator of performance. However, they are becoming a tool that gets schools funding, and the schools are teaching kids mostly information on the tests, and how to take the tests. The result is worse in every way, except for the NCLB funds that the school can get.

  96. KenSPT says:

    @Tracy Ham and Eggs: You’re right, my “wouldn’t last” comment was bad form, and I apologize.

    I’m not a teacher, but like I previously stated I have two parents and a girlfriend who are.

    I see what they go through, I see how stressed ignorant parents, students, and administration makes them. Without going into huge detail, I’ve seen all the bad things that people do/say/think about teachers and seen first hand how it affects them. Due to that, I defend the profession … sometimes blindly.

    Regardless, I’m done with this topic, as I feel any further discussion would simply be running in circles.

  97. EmperorOfCanada says:


    The reward is no spanking

  98. @Falconfire: “I could list for days the scientifically proven reasons why you CANT standardize a childs ability to learn, but its pointless because people like to see numerical results and a good portion of kids just cant show that for various reasons.”

    I know, God forbid we not Six-Sigma our children. I agree with you and a couple of others who’ve pointed to more fundamental problems like curriculum and standardized testing period.

    MY immediate reaction, and this is because I live in Illinois, is that you’ve just handed the teachers an EXCELLENT incentive to cheat. Which I know 99% of teachers would never do, but Illinois has had a big problem with it.

  99. @KenSPT: “Yet people like you seem to not care about those sacrifices, since you simply say, “Don’t complain about your salary”.”

    Actually, I think his comment that they’re “soccer moms” was telling — he doesn’t see teaching as a JOB, he sees it as a second job for the primary at-home parent, and he thinks it should be compensated as such, not as a career or profession.

    In a lot of the most successful European systems, teachers simply teach far fewer classes than they do here, giving them far more prep time and a better work-life balance. But that’s the kind of investment in education and professional development that costs real money.

  100. jimmy37 says:

    The same a**hole who did this to New York is doing it to Baltimore. The school system is yet another welfare program with do-nothing administrators and worthless “teachers.” So instead of getting rid of the s***, they simply make sure the kids will never learn.

  101. mcjake says:

    Giving teachers performance based bonuses is a GREAT idea.

    Giving kids money probably works. But I’m not sure that is the point of school. But then, if learning (for whatever reason) isn’t the point of school, then what is?

    Do we behave any differently in the real world?

  102. Elvisisdead says:

    @KenSPT: Dude, my sister and my mom are both teachers, and they are some whiny bitches. The work is no different from being a generic analyst in any company. There’s always some jerk manager or c-level that’s a roadblock to progress for all parties involved. There are plenty of special needs folks. It’s no bloody different.

    A teacher’s $/hr figure is plenty acceptable. Everyone else on the face of the earth works 1060 hours a year. Many for the same hourly rate or less than a teacher’s, but with no spring break, winter break, summer off, christmas vacation, etc. when you calc the hourly rate, it’s above many others.

  103. KenSPT says:

    @Elvisisdead: … and they earn every penny, and then some.

  104. WraithSama says:

    Somehow, I see this becoming a point of interest among other countries who wish to get a few laughs at America’s expense.

  105. j3nr1c0 says:

    Actually, the psychological research on this is pretty clear – it’s a VERY bad idea. Some, small, short-term benefits and bigger, worse, long-term consequences.

    Science works, if only we’d listen to the answers when forming policy…

  106. ravensfire says:

    I think its wrong to teach kids that there is always going to be a reward, other than personsal satisfaction, for doing well, especially an immediate reward. In their life they are bound to see people that work a lot less hard then they do surpass them. They will probably find themselves in at least one job where they do 2x the work of a higher paid person and make only half the higher paid person’s salary. There is no 1:1 relation between work done and salary earned. The personal satisfaction of doing well must be instilled in a child starting at home with the child’s parents. But many parents would rather bribe their children into performing desired behaviors rather thank taking the time to figure out how to motivate the child without bribery or at least bribery that involves “I’ll buy you this if you do what I want..” Unfortunately, figuring that out seems too difficult for many parents as it involves spending time with the child instead of watching TV.

    In addition to the above mentioned bad conditioning of children to always expect an immediate reward for doing well, just imagine the effect that paying kids for As would have on the children that try really hard but just can’t get A’s? I was one of those kids that sailed through school without much effort, much to the dismay of my hard working peers. Just imagine how much worse they would have felt if I’d been getting paid a lot more than they were for a lot less work. If that won’t kill the desire to learn, I don’t know what will.

    I do think there is wisdom in making teaching seeem like a more glamorous occupation. I’ve been blessed by some brilliant teachers so I know they exist. However, I worry that a lot of people are teachers because they couldn’t do anything else. I’d like to see more people who could do something else and want to teach come to the teaching field without having to worry about making ends meet.

  107. Optimistic Prime says:

    Worst idea ever. Children nowadays are already spoiled rotten and have a sense of entitlement. The first question we should be asking is where do these rewards come from? In major cities such as Cleveland, OH, we can’t afford current text books. This is bad money management, and sends a bad message.

    If there must be some sort of incentive, put the money into an education plan for the kids. It could grow like a 401k, and be used for vocational or post-secondary education. If you don’t use the monies, then it gets put into a pool for the next generation.

  108. jonworld says:

    It seems our country’s school systems aren’t quite getting the point…we need better teaching methods.

    I read a very interesting article the other day about how Finland’s schools are the best in the world and they get much less homework and there are no honors classes:


  109. LunarLoki says:

    This is ridiculous. Its the classes and kids that need to be changed. Make the classes more about the education rather than endless homework and assignments or what I’d like to call an “all about the grade” approach the American system has taken on.

  110. Falconfire says:

    I do think there is wisdom in making teaching seeem like a more glamorous occupation. I’ve been blessed by some brilliant teachers so I know they exist. However, I worry that a lot of people are teachers because they couldn’t do anything else. I’d like to see more people who could do something else and want to teach come to the teaching field without having to worry about making ends meet.

    Trust me you do NOT become a teacher through normal means because you couldn’t do anything else. At least in NJ being a teacher through normal education means 12-16 MORE credits than any other field out there by law.

    Alternate route teachers though are a different story. They only require a bachelors degree and a couple years in their respective fields + 2-3 courses in the summer.

    Unfortunately the way colleges are pushing things the former are being completely over-run by the later. The reason? People dont feel like going through 136 credits of work to be treated like dirt. Most people I know who went to school to become a teacher, ended up going into another field because they cant stand administrators,students, and most importantly parents who dont care, and parents who feel they are entitled.

  111. ellis-wyatt says:

    Well, I’m going to show my age here. Back in “the day”, teachers saw to it that their students learned what they needed to learn – the three “r’s”. They weren’t worried about promoting their own agendas or making school a social experiment. Many had classrooms that had twice as many students in them as teachers have today, yet they somehow managed to see to it that the kids learned what they needed to know. They didn’t have a bunch of aides or assistants running around; they corrected all of their students’ papers every day. They often paid for things out of their own pockets because the school district didn’t have the money – things like bulletin board materials, paper, pencils, crayons, etc. for kids whose parents couldn’t afford any. They didn’t have “in service” days, rarely used “sick” days and they held parent-teacher conferences after school, in the evenings or on Saturday for those parents who couldn’t make it any other time. Sometimes those conferences took place over the phone during the evening when the parent would call the teacher at home. These same teachers had playground duty for recess and lunch breaks and they had supervision duty for after hours events such as sports, band concerts, drama presentations, etc. Yet, somehow, they were able to see to it the kids learned what they needed to learn and we kids did so without be awarded prizes for simply doing what we were there to do – learn. As I’ve learned over the years, my K-12 education was excellent in spite of having no where near the educational excesses that are present today. Just teach the kids and stop the nonsense – kids want to learn, just teach them. Yes, I know so much about all of this because my mother was grade school teacher for over 30 years, so I lived it every day as a kid. She often mentions that she is so glad she taught when she did and that she’s retired now because of what has become of the public education system in the past 20 years.

  112. evelyn says:


    The work is no different from being a generic analyst in any company. There’s always some jerk manager or c-level that’s a roadblock to progress for all parties involved. There are plenty of special needs folks. It’s no bloody different.

    how many times have those jerks physically threatened you? how many times have they stolen your car keys? your ipod? your cash? your phone? how many times have you told them to do something, only to see them roll their eyes at you and smack their lips? unless your answer is “all the damn time!” then i’m sorry, it’s not the same thing.

    look, teachers are undervalued. not necessarily monitarily (although i like the fuzzy math mgy did!), but at least socially (asif5th is a perfect example). how are we supposed to get good schools without good teachers? how are we supposed to get good teachers without attracting the best and the brightest people? how are we supposed to attract the best and the brightest people without seriously upping the respect teachers get for the unbelievably difficult job they do? the jobs that get the most respect are the ones that get the most money or get you famous. teaching does neither, so why should anyone who SHOULD be a teacher get into the profession? or, for those of us who entered the profession to do good, what the hell is the incentive to stay here? give us more money for doing a better job. that would be an incentive.

    i’m all for incentive pay for teachers if anyone could devise a reasonable way to distribute it. test scores or student grades would not work. administrative and peer review would work better.

  113. Lordstrom says:

    “I can’t even begin to describe what’s wrong with this.”

    @lightaugust: The only thing “wrong” with it is it destroys your failed public school status quo mindset.

    I completely support this.

  114. elvish says:

    The main reason why students in Asia excel in their studying is because of standardized test. However for it to work, it would require a lot of resouces. The standardized test in this nation is not exactly a real standardized test. The federal government has to mandate a fix test date for all schools in this nation, the department of education has to set the questions and to ensure that all students in this nation sit for the same set of exam papers. Then the papers had to be sent to different states for grading as to advert foul play. This is what standardized test should be and this will be the most effective way for students to learn as they will be competing not only with their peers but with other schools across the nation. Monetary reward will certainly boost the determination to study and to teach. Till we refuse to acknowledge how bad our school systems are and how ignorant many students and teachers are, we can never improve the education system.

  115. Lordstrom says:

    “I can also easily see this teaching children that greed is the only reason to get an education.”

    @AstroPig7: Success IS the only reason.

  116. pfeng says:

    Geez… this is something I don’t really like the idea of, but I’m not sure why.

    Logically, the concept of “knowledge as its own reward” is extremely difficult to express to children. This is probably because not many adults understand it themselves. How many parents got to work without getting paid? Or even, learn about a hobby without actually using their knowledge to play? A more plausible answer for “why should I do well in school” is “so you’re not a ignorant adult who can’t get a job and buy stuff for yourself.”

    I like negative reinforcement better, personally. You don’t do your homework, you can’t watch TV — or you fail a class, you get in biiiiig trouble. But even that should be tempered by giving positive reinforcements when good results are achieved.

    Maybe it’s the cash aspect that bothers me. I wouldn’t blink if they got gift certificates or something. But then I guess we’re back to free McDonald’s Happy Meals for good grades…

  117. Lordstrom says:

    “Attitudes like that will be why Public Education will NEVER be seen as succeeding in this country, no matter what they do, what data and evidence they give, and what they do to develop their profession.”

    @lightaugust: Good. Maybe it would finally be dismantled and privatized then.

  118. Lordstrom says:

    “I feel that if I had kids and their school gave them money for A’s, it should go into a savings account rather than allowing them to spend it. I’d probably make that account for college savings as well.”

    @theblackdog: Then where’s the motivation? You and some others are missing the point of the entire thing. It’s not YOU getting the As, it’s the kids. You are asking them to work hard so they can give it to you to stash away and use at your leisure.

  119. sporks says:

    I think that if they’re going to do this kind of stuff, either let it be in the form of a scholarship or not available to them until they graduate.

    Either way, that would prevent parents from trying to pressure Timmy to get straight As and high test scores so they can take the money the kid earns and use it themselves. Alternatively, it might encourage some to stay in school if the $$ is contingent on them graduating in however many years if it’s a substantial amount.

    As for teachers’ unions and the like, I’m not even gonna go there. I’ve seen way too many bad teachers allowed to stay and teach because they threatened with NEA action.

  120. chatterboxwriting says:

    @keith4298: Good idea. My workplace is like this. We have the “Circle of Excellence” with individual and team goals in place. This year’s reward is an all-expense paid trip to St. Thomas to snorkel, swim, and go to some conferences. However, I can exceed my individual lead generation goal by hundreds per month and I will still not get the trip if the high school team does not meet the enrollment goals set by corporate. We all work to motivate each other and my performance has improved because I don’t want my teammates to miss out because of something I could have done better.

  121. perfectoon_0901 says:

    Correct me if i’m wrong, but isn’t the whole point of getting an education for financial success and security? i mean, ya, we SHOULD be learning to learn, but really most of us go school so that we can get a good job and get rich and become successful. …right?

  122. chatterboxwriting says:

    @Falconfire: Agreed. I had several friends major in education in college, but they are not teachers now because they could not successfully pass the reading and writing sections of the Praxis exams (from what I understand, these are the two most basic parts and later versions are harder, so I am NOT knocking anyone who had a hard time with the more advanced Praxis exams). It sucked because they were my friends and I wanted them to do well, but I am glad there is a system in place for weeding out people who would “teach because they can’t do anything else” and don’t have the basic skills needed to teach successfully.

  123. WV.Hillbilly says:

    You can’t whip the little bastards anymore, you might as well pay them.

  124. Falconfire says:

    @lorddave: Because all this country needs is a system where parents who have to PAY to get the best education possible, forever dooming smart students in lower class families while complete dipshits who couldnt learn their way out of a bag are able to go to school because mommy and daddy make 100k.

    You do realize the only reason private education succeeds is because they legally have the ability to reject any and all students who not only are problem children, but students who have emotional and mental disabilities? Also you do know unlike public education, private schools have no legal requirement to show ANYTHING in relation to standards?

    Private education only looks like it succeeds, because they can legally hide the fact they dont unless they take money from the government.

  125. Lordstrom says:

    “You do realize the only reason private education succeeds is because they legally have the ability to reject any and all students who not only are problem children, but students who have emotional and mental disabilities?”

    @Falconfire: Yeah? And? I’d love to see public education do the same.

  126. Lin-Z [linguist on duty] says:

    too bad standardized tests are boring pieces of junk and don’t reflect much actual learning or knowledge at all.

    On the other hand, I would have loved to get $50 for doing well on these junky tests.

  127. Falconfire says:

    @lorddave: Good go to China and Iran where they kill them. I’m sure they would love you!

  128. Falconfire says:

    @lorddave: Also I enjoy how you cut out the parts of my post relating to the fact that private schools have no legal requirement to show they are teaching ANYTHING.

  129. Lordstrom says:

    @Falconfire: Because it’s irrelevant. The government has no business being involved at all.

  130. Falconfire says:

    @lorddave: Your right they have no point in manipulating it for votes, which is what they do right now, and very well might I add which goes back to my pointing out the need of “certain people” to have numerical scores for a statistic thats very hard to qualify. But your post proves there is a fundamental NEED for protection of peoples education rights by the government through funding. The sheer fact people like you feel learning disabled student have no right to a education warrants it.

    So in essence your argument against proves our argument for. Though I truthfully think your just a trolling asshole looking to stir up shits and giggles.

  131. Lordstrom says:

    @Falconfire: There is no right to education. The law forces everyone to have one, whether they want it or not, and whether it works or not. Public education is fundamentally flawed and should be dissolved.

  132. synergy says:

    I’m a believer in the old “there are no exceptions to working hard in school” concept where you do it because you’re expected to, not because you get instant gratification out of it.

  133. Lordstrom says:

    There’s a word to describe working hard because you’re expected to without gratification.


  134. arilvdc says:

    @Asif5th: Teachers don’t do enough? Are you kidding me?!? I DARE you to try and become a teacher. It’s the hardest and worst (monetary) paying job I’ve ever had. For the amount of work teachers do, they are vastly underpaid.

  135. Lordstrom says:

    @arilvdc: Yeah, assigning homework is SO difficult. By God how do they do it?!

  136. rmuser says:


    I think this will setup the kids for a lifelong expectation that they should be rewarded for simply doing what is expected of them. I’m fine with rewards for going “above-and-beyond”, but not for the ordinary.

    Why are children – not just any people, but children – expected to work for 13 years without compensation, and forced by law to do this? When orange pickers are forced to do that, it’s called slavery. When children in third-world countries work for mere pennies a day, it’s considered sweatshop labor. And yet everyone seems to think it’s okay to make children work for free. Is this something you think should be considered “ordinary”? When you get a job and do the work that’s expected of you, at least you get a paycheck out of it.

    Explain yourself.

  137. CharlieSeattle says:

    @lightaugust: What’s wrong with it? I think it’s brilliant. Businesses do this all the time for employee’s that go above and beyond the call of duty. I’ve gotten bonuses like this. So why not if they are a good teacher. And if the student does great, money is a great incentive. Hopefully they are also teaching them the value of a dollar too.

  138. Chols says:

    If kids do better on tests, then a teacher prepared them better for it – read: did their job.

    Also, the learn to make money incentive is real, it’s called COLLEGE.

  139. SilverStar95 says:

    Funny thing. One year, my father said that for every A or A+ I managed to get on my report card, he’d give me 5-10 dollars. There were a total of 25 places on the report card that were marked.

    Now, this was back in grade 3. I managed to get 22 of those marks up to A or A+, with only the 3 places left for phys ed being the lower marks. He went back on his word. After that, I didn’t bother to try so hard, despite being able to do better than anyone else, at any time.

  140. SaraAB87 says:

    I think the main reason I worked for good grades was to please my parents. Maybe if parents praised for good grades and punished for bad (but only when appropriate, if your child studied for 3 hours for a math test and you watched them and they still failed then please don’t punish) we wouldn’t have this problem. A monetary reward was part of the praise for me, but it was not the catch all, the catch all was I knew that if I got good grades, I pleased my parents. If parents took the TIME to praise their kids for good grades and to not praise for bad, then maybe they would get the hint and start to do better automatically.

    But honestly kids are so saturated in technology no wonder they don’t want to study, when you have 20 Webkinz to take care of, an Ipod, a Nintendo DS, and a Nintendo Wii, and of course the obligatory TV and Computer no wonder kids don’t want to study from a blackboard or read from a textbook as they are overwhelmed with things that are much more technological than doing homework or studying from boring old books(and yes I know many families where kids have all of the things listed). If schools started to use fascinating technology to teach kids then maybe they would want to learn, in Japan the school system integrates the Nintendo DS and PSP handhelds into the system instead of banning them, and instead uses them as an opportunity to teach kids through the various educational games made for the system (of course Japan has a lot more educational games for the DS than the US does.)

    If the US was able to get the educational system down to the technology level of today’s kids, we might actually grab the attention of kids and kids might actually want to learn something!

  141. AlphaUltima says:

    If we make money such a priority the children will eventually look for the easiest source: crime.

  142. vladthepaler says:

    Kids should be taught to love learning, not money.

  143. Elvisisdead says:

    @KenSPT: Well, as everyone does. Nobody’s disputing that the work isn’t hard or challenging. However, all work is for some people.

    That being said, I’ve been a teacher. A freaking sub in junior high, no less. It was hard, but not as hard as the job I chose for my career. As a result, I make significantly more than what teachers make (although my mother refuses to believe so).

    Teachers have a fair and adequate compensation package for the work that they do and it obviously keeps attracting individuals who want to do the work. Sure, there’s a shortage, but all teachers don’t deserve to be paid more. If they want more, they can get advanced degrees and teach at higher levels. I’ve taught a few classes there, too. Pay is just as miserable for part time non-published professors.

    Anyway, almost everyone believes that they are undervalued in the workplace. It’s just that teachers (and other unionized workers) have the uncanny knack to not be able to calculate their compensation package as a whole…. and my mom taught math. When you take the whole package, it surpasses most entry-level positions. The problem is that teachers aren’t rewarded for proficiency or longevity – both which make better teachers.

  144. Elvisisdead says:

    @evelyn: You’ve never worked in a warehouse or construction, have you? For that matter, I worked in Federal law enforcement, so “all the damn time”.

    Listen – everyone thinks their job is more difficult and more stressful than everyone else. Teachers have the gall to whine about more money at every step, when their compensation is equivalent or better than a majority of people.

    Nobody is keeping you in your position. If money is the only important thing to you, then you should leave and get another job. With your attitude, it’s probably better for all people involved.

  145. CitizenOutKast says:

    As an educator myself, and basically a conservative, I am against basing teacher pay on kids’ scores. What people don’t see is how many kids, especially in low income districts, have basically nothing at home. Whoever they are living with, be it mom (no dad) or grandmom because mom’s a drug addict, the majority have no incentive to learn. The parents, such as they are, don’t give a crap, and that attitude trickles down to the kids. So, if the kids aren’t going to do anything to learn, you’re punishing teachers for the actions of others.

    I’ve seen dedicated teachers try and try and try to reach certain kids, and it constantly fails. The kids have to grow up dealing with gangs, drugs, and a bleak future, so education is hardly a concern. Talk to the parent(s) or “breeders” about it, and they get no support and sometimes get hostility and “not my kid” attitudes. So, teachers should suffer financial penalties because some unwed mother on drugs doesn’t care what her kids do as long as they don’t disturb her Oprah watchin’? I don’t think so.

    Base pay on test scores and all you’ll get is teaching to the test. Teachers have families to feed, and you can bet if it comes down to teaching to the test in order to put food on the table, they will. You would, too. That’s survival. If the kids don’t care to learn, why keep your own kids from enjoying their lives just because of that attitude on the other kids/parent’s part? Teach to the test, get the scores up, and get to eat.

    Schools are fouled up beyond recognition due to all the liberal bleeding heart nonsense that infests them. The teachers shouldn’t end up being punished because of the decisions of touchy feely administrators or education bureaucrats that demand obedience to their idiotic ideas.

    If a carpenter is given bad wood and can’t do anything with it, do we punish him? No, we can see that the original material he’s given is warped and beyond fixing. If you’re sold a car and a year later there’s a recall do you blame the dealer or the factory? I would hope you woudn’t the dealer, as he isn’t the one who built the car but only dealt with it for maybe a year. Same with teaching…if the original material is bad and can’t be fixed, blame the “builders” (the parents), not the “dealers” (teachers).

  146. teexcue says:

    I do agree that children should get some sort of tangible reward for their hard work, not just a simple letter on a piece of paper. However, having the teachers pay them is wrong. There should be other means of motivation, from the parents at least. At my high school, if we kept up a 3.5 average GPA and weren’t late to class more than once a week, we were given the privilege of going off campus for lunch and free periods. I think this also gives kids the feeling of responsibility, which is definitely more beneficial than a monetary reward.

    I also think that giving teachers a bonus for doing a good job teaching is a plus. There are many teachers at my school who barely do their jobs, and they get paid just as much as the few teachers who spend their lunches in classrooms helping students, and staying after school to give extra lectures.

  147. greencrow says:

    The time has come to look our entire educational model. The problem is that there are no immediate consequences for doing poorly. Teachers do not want to flunk children and schools do not want to keep children back a grade because it will affect the kid’s self esteem. Improve the system by flunking and/or holding back every child that doesn’t earn the grades needed. Also at some point seperate the children with some going on to higher academics and others going on to learn trades. This is extremely un pc, I know, but rather than take opinions and feelings into account let’s use some common sense for once.