March 07, 2008

I agree with Heather Mac Donald

"I think it could end up being the most destructive welfare program ever devised," says Mac Donald.

What is she talking about? This:

A pilot program called Opportunity NYC pays low-income families cash incentives to do what many say they should be doing anyway.
  • $25 dollars for attending parent teacher conferences;
  • $600 for kids passing a standardized test;
  • $200 for getting a yearly physical;
  • All told, up to $6,000 a year in cash rewards per family.

"... what many say they should be doing anyway." Gee, 'ya think? I can't begin to describe the "Oh. My. God." feeling I got when I first heard of this.

But those in favor of the payment programs say it's hard to argue with success. In Dallas, students have been rewarded $100 for passing college prep exams for the past 12 years - with striking results.

"Over 30 percent are scoring over 1100 on the SAT or ACT college equivalent," said Gregg Fleisher of the National Math and Science Initiative.

Um, isn't the top score on the SAT now a 2400 and not a 1600? So a 1100 ain't exactly, um, very good ...? Even if it's based on the old 1600 score, a one-time $100 payout for passing a college prep exam is just a bit different from up to $6,000(!!) in payments for ... doing what the hell you're supposed to do. And if it's hard to "argue with success," why stop here? Why not open it up to all families, not just low-income ones? Don't we want all kids to succeed? Don't more well-to-do kids respond to such ... incentives too?

But let's take a gander at what these "payments for doing what normal people expect you to do" could mean down the road, eh?

  • New entry worker Bill asks his boss why he "didn't get a 'special bonus' for getting to work on time" for five consecutive days.
  • Barbara can't believe that the bank she works at doesn't offer "free" lunch. "I work here! Why do I have to pay for it?"
  • Since Thomas has to drive to work, he is aghast that his office won't offer to pay for his weekly gas fill-up.
  • Barney's job requires him to keep his hair cut short. When he realizes that his company won't pay for his haircuts, he throws a tantrum.
  • Gertrude's new job requires her to wear skirts, not pants. "What do you mean the company won't pay for my new skirts? It's you guys that require them! That's not fair!"

And so on.

And what will it mean down the road for teachers? Kids saying "Pay me a dollar if you want me to stay seated"? "Give me a dollar to take out my pencil"? "I'll shut up if you gimme $5.00"??

Thankfully, the public at large seems to get it (as is usually the case; so-called educational "elites" are usually the ones who dream up these inane "ideas") as exemplified by the comment section under the story. Here's just a sampling:

Cost to get a parent to care how their child is doing in school: $25 Cost to remind a parent of the importance of physicals for their children: $200 Cost to convince a kid to do well on a test because the parent won''t: $600

Taking the standard responsibility of any parent and putting it on the government and our schools...Priceless.

What ever happened to holding people responsible for their actions and in this case their lack of. This is a perfect example of a society where band-aids are the daily cure for broken arms.

Why are we so afraid of telling parents they''re doing a really bad job of parenting? And that they must do a better job, or else.

I am extremely upset at this story. To even consider paying people as incentive to parent their children is unacceptable. Library cards are free and to think tht it took a mom to be offered money in order to take her children to the library makes me ill. This type of program does not promote pride in learning and education, but rather selfishness and the feeling of entitlement in order to succeed. This is not the answer to our education problems in this country.
We are from a middle income family and we pretty much live paycheck to paycheck, but my bills are always paid. I would like someone to pay me for my son to have a physical or for passing a test. No wonder this country is so messed up. I guess it would be better for me to quite my job and become part of the economy that is lower class and have everything paid for me.
Are they going to pay my child for doing well in school although I work with her every night at home? How fair it is to the families who work hard at home and their kids are doing well. Should they too not be rewarding for performing well in the classroom? What should the teachers get for working with the disadvantaged children who come to school one to two years behind and have to pull them up to grade level in a semester. What about me? I have been a single-mother for almost three years now. I get up, cook breakfast, comb hair, get myself dressed, drop off my child and then go to work for 8 hrs. Pick her up try to get in some gym time on lunch. Go home and try to prepare somewhat of a decent meal and work on phonics, math, reading or something. What’s the difference, shouldn’t we get a little something for our hard work? Society would say no because: I have two degrees and work in the school system and "make too much money." I say it’s no different from the single mother who sits at home all day! Okay she lives in a low socio-economic situation, but she is choosing to become her situation and not change it. Her kids didn''t ask to be on this earth. I personally don’t want to be paid for something that I signed up to be: a parent! I am not leaving my child''s education up to the school. What happened to working hard for everything that you have? Paying parents and kids…please.
Posted by Hube at March 7, 2008 07:20 PM | TrackBack

Comments  (We reserve the right to edit and/or delete any comments. If your comment is blocked or won't post, e-mail us and we'll post it for you.)

Yeah, I find myself agreeing with Ms. MacDonald as well...
Though this really DOES remind me of my post from the summer about how TEACHERS should be paid.
http://learnmegood2.blogspot.com/2007/05/modest-proposal.html

Posted by: Mister Teacher at March 10, 2008 07:40 PM

YIKES.

Stumbled you.

Here via COE - my post on Flat Stanley is included this week.

Posted by: Pass the Torch at March 12, 2008 09:15 AM

I agree with you for sure. I have too many problems with these incentive programs. I can't even begin to list them, but you've done a good job of doing that for us nonetheless. Peace ...

Posted by: jose at March 12, 2008 06:11 PM

Glad I could oblige, José! :-)

Posted by: Hube at March 12, 2008 06:13 PM

This is absurd! If NYC has so much money maybe they need to share some of that with states who can't afford books or computers. Maybe they should spend it on hiring more teachers with smaller classrooms.

Posted by: Pat at March 19, 2008 10:22 AM