Friday, January 25, 2008

Shoud Black Students Be Paid Study?

Two Georgia schools have decided to pay students struggling in math and science to attend study halls in order to have extra preparation on those subjects. The Harlem Children's Zone in New York City has already been paying students for perfect attendance and straight A's on report cards.

I have mixed feelings about paying students to study, but the educational system is failing so miserably that I can't blame school systems for taking desperate measures. What do you think? Should black students be paid to attend school or study halls? Should they be paid for achieving good grades?

What message does this trend of pay for study set? What will be the impact on students that are used to being paid to study when colleges do not embrace this practice?


SheCodes January 25, 2008 at 9:07 AM  

No, I think this is ridiculous. Although I understand the desperation that would cause some people to want to try it.

The first and most dangerous lesson that would be taught is that extreme capitalism (meaning the love of money) can solve all things. Children will be taught to love money instead of loving to learn.

The real lesson that would be taught to the world (and to the black kids), that they are uncivilized beasts who will have no interest in basic self-preserving behaviors without a 'carrot stick' reward.

There are other ways to re-ignite the natural curiosity that ALL babies are born with. All children are curious about their world -- and a change of curriculum, genuine encouragement and praise, taking a personal interest in the child, fining parents if homework is consistently not done, are just a few ways in the past that have ACTUALLY WORKED in the past.

What's next? Being paid to brush your teeth and take a shower?

Mes Deux Cents January 25, 2008 at 9:10 AM  

Professor Tracey,

We have to do something, I say pay them. It's a possible solution instead of just more talk so I'm all for it.

heebie-geebie January 25, 2008 at 11:46 AM  

In my opinion, for kids from privilidged backgrounds, grades are already a transaction. You accumulate sufficiently many As and Bs over the years, and you are set on a clearly defined path to college and a well-paying job.

For those kids from non-privilidged backgrounds, there is no clear path, and the road to success requires a much more unusual degree of self-awareness and motivation. (Yeah, I know that this is not a ground-breaking idea.)

But anyway, therefore, it seems to me that paying kids to study levels the playing field, in the sense that it levels the incentive structure. Ideally, all kids would be encouraged to learn for learning's sake. I would love it if my students just frankly loved the hell out of math. But given that the system is already economized for those of privilidge, and is going to stay that way, I'm in favor of this system.

Miss Issues January 25, 2008 at 12:39 PM  

So, what happens when they stop getting paid. Are they going to keep learning? Like the old folks say, you can't make somebody do what they do want to do. I lived in both parts of Atlanta. At first I lived in the majority black part(where there are trying this out). Now, I live in the majority white part, North Fulton county.

I hate to say it, but I had to move. The kids and their parents don't have the same sense of value of education. Case in point, both my daughters attend free after school and saturday tutoring. Both are A&B students. Both read at least one book a month from the public library and ask me to buy books when we go to bookstores. And I don't have to pay them one red cent.

The reason is me. I am a single mother who works full-time and goes to grad school. My life is an example of what education can do for you. We live in a nice neighborhood with a great cultural activities. The point is kids only put as much value in something as they are taught. If you teach children value material things and they never see you read, that's what you get.

Randi523 January 25, 2008 at 1:43 PM  

While this is a possible solution, like Shecodes said, a lot of people (not just children, adults too) have lost a love for learning. For example, I get chided by people of all races and genders for watching Animal Planet, The History Channel, or PBS. I was mostly on a Science track in college, so now post-college I'm always trying to learn about new things, different subjects. FOR FREE.

I remember when I was in school, I constantly brought home A's, an occasional B, and my first C (in Statistics my senior year-I was absolutely devastated, thinking I wasn't going to get into college LOL). My mother would see it, I would mail a copy to my dad, and they just said "Good". No payment of any type. Sometimes, if I got an A and it was like a 91, my dad would ask, "Why couldn't you get a 100?" I shudder to think what would have happened if I brought home anything less than that C my senior year.

Now, kids accept C's like they're A's, including my own two younger sisters. So I can see why this particular public school is trying this incentive, but like everything else, we have to change mindsets and get kids EXCITED about learning, not just making money.

tasha212 January 25, 2008 at 6:06 PM  

I don't think that this is a good idea because studying and going to school is what kids are supposed to do. Instead of paying kids to come to school and study, how about trying to revamp the curriculum so that it fosters a love of learning instead of stifling creativity. How about taking the primary focus off of high-stakes standardized tests that everyone knows are not a real measure of intelligence. How about instiuting a curriculum that reinsforces self-esteem and creativity and curiosity. I think this will work better than paying kids because it will change the system. The system is the problem. The system needs to be changed. Anything else will act as a band-aid and therefore, will not get to the root of the problem.

Also, parents ought to be held accountable for their children's academic success. Teachers should be expected to care about their students and go the extra mile to make sure that they learn. It's been my experience` in working with black children that u have to develop a rapport with them. If they like and respect you, and believe that u genuinely like and respect them, it's easier to teach them because they are more receptive to hearing what u have to say.

Tam Tam January 25, 2008 at 7:45 PM  

I teach kids in grades 7-12 who have extreme truancy issues, who have been expelled and/or are involved in the juvenile justice system. I don't work in a comprehensive high school. Never have, probably never will.
Some kids need external motivation, period, at least for some subjects.

Think about it...we as adults also have external motivators for certain things. I don't always exercise because I want a healthy heart, which I do. I also do it because I want to look good in that new dress! I don't enjoy vacuuming my living room, but I don't want people talking about me like a dog because of my dirty floor. Those are not bad reasons to do the things that need to be done.

Kids do have a natural curiosity that should be nurtured and expressed. Lessons that are taught should be engaging and informative. And there are teachers who need to "liven up" their lesson presentations. However,I am an educator, not an entertainer. Kids have gotten used to the "tv syndrome" of passively acquiring information. Real classroom learning doesn't happen like that.

I'm sorry, but some kids have the worst behavior. Nothing can go on in class until behavior is put in check!

iman January 26, 2008 at 3:35 PM  

It's important to note that it's not black children who are being paid to got to school, it's poor children. In NYC this incentive program is being piloted in some of the poorest neighborhoods with a small group of families. I'm not sure about atlanta, but the way it works here is that students get a financial reward for doing well on specific types of test (i.e. state test) and for specific end of year grades. They're reward is not much, but for a kid who proboly doesn't get an allowance and who's parents have little money to spare for non essential items, it's means a great deal.

People don't realize that kids who are well off get financial incentives from their parents all the time for good grades. Sometimes it out right payment, but a lot of times its something simple like a trip to the movies or a night out at a restaurant for a great report card. It is not the single motivating factor for a child to learn, but it does give them a reward, as modest as it may be, for doing a great job.

Also, in a culture where children who do well are often made fun of for their success, the kids who are doing well are actually the cool ones, because they are the ones walking off w/ $50 or $100 at the end of the school year.

Lastly, at lot of poor high school students work as soon as their old enough so that they can have some money of their own, while a lot of wealtheir kids don't have to worry about that. I think if you can find a way to get money into the hands of young people while keeping the focused exclusively on school it's a great idea.

Professor Tracey January 27, 2008 at 5:46 PM  

Excellent points everyone, I will be addressing this issue and other related to education in the near future.

I am really torn on this issue. I want kids to learn and I believe most kids can love learning, but as TAM TAM makes clear, teaching is not easy.

Education and the economy are my number one concerns in this election, so I am hoping that something gets developed by who ever becomes the next president, because that Leave No Child Behind crap is a pure mess.

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