Paying kids for going to school?


A piece in the USA Today looks at an emerging, and I would say disturbing new trend: Kids being paid to go to school, get good grades, or attend after-school programs.

And not just parents slipping their kids a few bucks: We're talking about the government cutting kids checks for going to latchkey.

In suburban Atlanta, eighth and eleventh-graders $8 an hour for attending an after-school study program.

Baltimore is set to pay kids as much as $110 for improving their test scores, and even New York fourth graders can win $500 for improving their scores on standardized tests.

There are a few things that come to mind. First, shouldn't kids be grateful for their educational opportunities? Second, doesn't incentivizing fourth graders with large sums of money make these tests even more stressful, and is there any good reason to put little kids under that much pressure?

But a key issue to me -- as someone who was bored out of mind during school -- is that the fact that we have to bribe kids to go to school is indicative of how boring and insipid the work is. Standardized tests and textbooks have taken all the fun out of what should be a time for learning and discovery. Now it's all about drilling.

Why don't we take the money we're going to pay kids for study and use it to develop a curriculum that kid might actually want to study.