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Rachel Cooper

Cash for Good Grades in DC Schools?

By August 22, 2008

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DC Schools Chancellor Michelle A. Rhee announced yesterday a plan to pay students up to $100 per month for displaying good behavior. According to the Washington Post, beginning in October, 3,000 students at 14 middle schools will be eligible to earn cash for attending class regularly and on time, turning in homework, displaying good manners and earning high grades. A maximum of $2.7 million has been set aside for this program.

This seems like a really drastic idea. I understand the DC School System has had a terrible time trying to motivate students and they think that money is a good incentive especially for underprivileged children with little support from home. However, philosophically I disagree with giving money to children for doing well in school. I don't give my own children money for good grades. They have a strong desire to learn and do well in life because I've taught them to be interested in what is going on in the world and that it takes hard work to have a good life. I think the $2.7 million could be better spent on programs to train teachers and to build students' self esteem.

What do you think?


August 22, 2008 at 9:41 am
(1) Nancy says:

This is dismaying. Until now, I had thought Chancellor Rhee was on the right track, but I can’t agree with this cash incentive program.

I realize that DC has a very high dropout rate, and that keeping kids in school is a good thing. But, really, is this the message we want to send to our kids? That they don’t have to behave and do their homework unless there’s a reward?

What happens to these students ten years from now, when they are in college or in the workforce and no one pays them extra to do what’s expected of them?

I think this money would be better spent on providing underprivileged students with things that could really help them – computer access and training, tutoring, and school supplies would be at the top of my list.

Perhaps this is a national trend, but it doesn’t teach our children how to function in the adult world.

August 22, 2008 at 2:12 pm
(2) Delaine says:

As a resident of the District of Columbia, I know that the city has tried everything to motivate these children. If that motivation is not coming from the parent(s)or that child is not self-motivated, then I cannot find any harm in paying them for good grades and good behavior. For some this is motivation. And when you think about it, it’s just like the adult world. Don’t you get paid for doing a good job. This maybe just what these children need.

August 22, 2008 at 2:35 pm
(3) Lyn says:

I am really amazed on who came up with this great idea. I hope they do this nationwide where underprivileged children receive some incentives on their hard work. Let’s put it this way and think like a kid for once or when you were a kid. A kid thinks that having your own room and curfew are privileges and going to school is an obligation. They don’t understand that going to school is also a privilege because education opens up many doors. So why not give them money not just allowances from parents but from schools too. Some kids don’t even have allowances from their parents. This money is for the children anywway not for the adults.

August 22, 2008 at 2:49 pm
(4) plouis says:

There is something more to this situation.Need more demographics.

August 22, 2008 at 2:54 pm
(5) Marie says:

I think it is awesome. For those of you who think paying someone to work is a bad idea, then I’d like to hire you. Your salary will be nil and the only benefit will be you learning how to work hard for your own satisfaction.

August 22, 2008 at 3:10 pm
(6) dc says:

P Louis –

Here are some demographics. As of 2006, only 19 of 135 public schools scored at the “proficient” or “advanced” level.


That is pretty pathetic. I guess one thing that really bothers me about schools paying students for grades is that the money is coming out of local taxes. Are we going to pay all students? Will families change schools just so they can get paid? Where is all of this money going to come from in the long run?

August 22, 2008 at 3:48 pm
(7) Margaret Cousins says:

hi Rachel,I agree wholeheartedly that kids need motivation not moneyvation.

I also have a question.Where would I find Info on the sculpture at hains point,I think it was called birth of man or dawn of man?Please help thankyou Margaret.

August 22, 2008 at 4:01 pm
(8) dc says:

It is called the Awakening and was moved to National Harbor last spring. Here are the details:


August 25, 2008 at 2:08 pm
(9) Valorie says:

I think it is a wonderful idea. My daughter belongs to a credit union and they give students money for “A”s. I was often rewarded for a good report card. So I don’t see the problem. As for who is paying…wouldn’t it be better to pay for good students in school rather than poor achieving students who might end up on the wrong side of the law.

August 26, 2008 at 3:09 am
(10) kssomeswara says:

In India in order to encourage children of economically weaker section to come to mainstream various schemes and the latest being providing them with mid-day meals. From the report above even our big brother is in the same boat

August 27, 2008 at 4:07 pm
(11) Jim says:

Complete waste of Tax payer’s money. No one wants to leave a child behind but these kids are making a conscious decision to waste their own time in school. Now the DC government wants to waste tax payers money on a program that has high hopes but will ultimately fail.

Give these kids real incentives:
==> Report to school or report to a dc work program, or report to jail.

Make their parents responsible for their child’s actions: increase yearly taxeson … their homes, their wages, take away the privilege to drive – boot their car . Start taking away the parents privileges and might just see an improvement in their kids.

Make parents responsible for their Kids !!!

August 28, 2008 at 9:42 am
(12) JB says:

I think it is a disgrace to pay DC students to attend school. What will this process teach the children? (1) That they should get paid to do something that legally they are SUPPOSE to do at least until they turn 16? (2) That their parents are no longer responsible for ensuring that they attend school daily and on time? (Which is their job as parents). (3) That the only way they will pursue anything in life is to be paid? I attended DC public schools from K-12. My PARENTS motivated me and gave me incentives to do well in school and in life. I DO NOT want my tax dollars to fund this farce. I heard a political say that “the parents need the money”. Taxpayers are already paying for free meals and funding the welfare system. When is the DC government going to make parents be responsible parents and raise RESPONSIBLE children? I assure you that youth crime would go down and test scores would increase.

October 18, 2008 at 2:52 pm
(13) Bob says:

If money becomes the motivation and not good grades and the understanding of what getting good grades means to ones future, It seems to me this might become an incentive to cheat. Even kids that don’t do well in school are clever enough to find ways to cheat the system. You may even get groups of kids to attend and behave in class and then cheat together to increase their cashflow. It seems to me they are training them to become politicians like the ones that thought up this idea.

October 19, 2008 at 3:40 am
(14) CareWolf says:

I think this is a good idea gone bad. Reward can be much more effective than punishment. But giving children this age that much money is crazy. They could earn points which worked up to rewards-but cash??? and where are the drugs being sold? what happens when the rewards run out?

October 22, 2008 at 12:13 pm
(15) monel says:

kids sould not get payed for good grades they sould eran the when they do so thing good.

December 9, 2008 at 2:52 pm
(16) Teacher in VA says:

I think that this is just going to contribute to the problem. Paying students for what they are supposed to be doing in the first place will lead to students not working when the money runs out. I do not have the answers to this problem and I know it is a HUGE problem. But when the monetary reward stops the behavior will also stop. The idea to do what is expected does not come naturally to all people or some students were not taught these behaviors in their out-of-school environment. Maybe there is more to this story than what was posted. If the solution is just -pay them- then I would quit my job as a teacher and move far away from that area. There is a school called Achievable Dream, in Newport News that has many students from economically challenged homes and they do not have to pay the students to behave, they show them that they have a purpose, and build their confidence and prepare them for the real world. I do not work there so I cannot tell you exactly what they do or how they do it, but they have proven that it can be done without paying students.

February 4, 2009 at 11:03 pm
(17) Ryan says:

I think they should do this all over the u.s.a. They first need to start in west and work torwards east because they always start on the east coast.Washington first then the rest. Everyone thiks this is a good idea and i think so to.

April 9, 2010 at 5:12 pm
(18) X. Yang says:

I agree with Chancellor Rhee on this issue. Paying money to students who earn good grades and display good school behavior, such as doing and turning in homework should get paid money for their hard work. To all the parents who say that this is a bad idea, I say that this will MAKE students more RESPONSIBLE rather than the other way around because the motivation or “moneyvation” that this program creates for students will FORCE them to earn excellent grades. Chancellor Rhee has always had excellent policies, but I think this is one of her best. Just watch: test scores, graduation rates and citizenship will go up dramatically once this has been enforced. Good luck to DC schools.

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