An education best reward for good grades

Freedom New Mexico

Remember a few years back — and for some of us it’s a little further than we’d care to admit — when perhaps dad produced a crisp five-dollar bill when that report card came home with an unexpected but much appreciated A in math? Maybe mom cooked up a favorite for dinner when such a thing happened. Every now and then an uncle possibly kicked something into the kitty.

That was all good stuff. Sometimes little rewards can go a long way toward creating a more conscientious student out of one that might be lagging just a tad.

But the state of North Carolina isn’t a mom or dad. It’s not an uncle or an aunt. It’s not even a fifth cousin. Why, we’d hazard a guess that the state isn’t even a close friend.

No, the state is the government and it has no business paying students for high marks earned in public schools or perfect attendance — or good conduct for that matter.

Let’s repeat that: The state has no business paying students for high marks earned in

public schools.

At least two North Carolina lawmakers disagree and think such a thing is worth considering. Sen. Fletcher Hartsell, a Cabarrus County Republican, believes cash rewards for students or their parents is a relatively cheap and effective way to improve test scores or lower dropout rates.

There will still be a slew of studies about the merits of offering cash to the 1.4 million students now enrolled in North Carolina’s public schools before it actually happens.

So at this point, it’s a long shot.

Still, it’s not too early to raise questions about whether such a cash incentive program is worth pursuing at all. And many areas don’t seem to think it’s a crackpot idea. According to the Associated Press, Baltimore, New York City, Chicago, Houston, and Fulton County, Ga., have been testing pay programs. In some areas, private interests have offered cash rewards to students.

Private companies paying incentives and the state doing so are two different things, however.

Then there’s the matter of whether money for grades actually produces the desired results. Will students become smarter and more competitive with thoughts of gaining $1,000 annually from grades one to 12 in their heads?

Maybe, maybe not. Studies about the success of cash payments in return for student

performance are inconclusive at best, according to the Associated Press. In some cases it worked, in others not so much. One study indicates that best results are achieved not by measuring and rewarding grades or test scores but daily attendance or good reading habits. There doesn’t seem to be the kind of one-size-fits-all solution in which the state so often gravitates.

We find ourselves in agreement with Duke University professor William Darity who told the AP that changing students isn’t the answer, improving the curriculum is.

And besides, the state has no business paying students for high marks earned in public schools.

It’s that simple.