February 26, 2010

Paying Kids to Study

There is a recent article in Newsweek magazine titled "Why Paying Kids to Study Works in Texas" written by Tony Dokoupil. In this article Dokoupil suggests that paying kids to study is an effective way to boost their academic performance. He sites studies that suggest this incentive has helped Texas high-school students who earned money for scoring well on Advanced Placement exams. According to the author these studies showed students achieving a higher GPA and bumps in the likelihood for earning their degree with this paid incentive. The author of this study is Cornell Professor Kirabo Jackson. Jackson is quoted as saying "If you have a million dollars, this is a pretty good way to spend it. It gives cool-minded kids an alibi for success, he adds: I don't like math:I'm saving for an Xbox.'" The funds currently being used to pay out these incentives are from private donors. The main point of this article is not to encourage more private people to donate. The writer of this article makes his point at the end. This cash incentive to do well in school should be adopted into public policy. The government should pay us for doing what is in our best interest.
It is easy to see how this is a terrible idea in many ways. Adopting this into public policy is just another case of unnecessary goverment intervention. I believe that most people would agree that children doing well in school is something that everyone wants, however this is not the way to go about doing it. The government should not pay kids to do well in school for the same reason that it should not pay us to stay away from Taco Bell. We as private citizens can make our own choices and do not need government to tax us in order to provide incentive for others to make the "right" choice. There is already an incentive for kids to do well in school because higher education pays off in many ways. Doing well in school and gaining more education increases their human capital. It is the job of parents and people raising the childern to help them to realize that education is important, not the job of government. This cash incentive will only send kids the message that "Something is only worth doing if I get an immediate reward from it."Also, if these high-school students in Texas are truly only doing well in school for a small immediate monetary gain rather than for gain in the long run, then they are not going to do well after high-school. Is the government then going to pay them to attend college and pay them to find a career after? If government payment was thier only reason for learning then it is only logical that government should look at other aspects of our lives and pay us for what it deems to be the right choice. Most people would agree that excercise is a good thing. Maybe government should pay us $5 for every mile we jog per year. Clearly this idea is ridiculas.

1 comment:

Kirabo said...

You should probably know the article before you talk about it. The study discussed IS an analysis of student outcomes after high school! They are more likely to graduate from college so you comments about them not working after high school are completely off-base.