The Chicago Public Schools are now bribing children to get higher grades:
Up to 5,000 freshmen at 20 Chicago public high schools will get cash for good—and even average—grades as part of a new, Harvard-designed test program that city education leaders are rolling out Thursday.
Students will be measured every five weeks in math, English, social sciences, science and physical education. An A nets $50, a B equals $35 and a C still brings in $20. Students will get half the money upfront, with the remainder paid upon graduation. A straight-A student could earn up to $4,000 by the end of his or her sophomore year.
"It's a terrible idea, because you're getting people to do things for the wrong reasons," said Barry Schwartz, a Swarthmore College psychology professor who has written on the issue. "They'll do well in school, maybe, but they won't take any of it out with them. Instead of trying to cultivate an interest in learning, curiosity . . . you are just turning this into another job."
It may not be obvious, but bribery is force—coersion—robbing the behavior of any intrinsic value. Not to mention, any metric can be gamed, and with money on the line, the opportunities for corruption increase by orders of magnitude. Arguing points on a test will now have a financial stake, which changes the stakes of arguing points on a test dramatically. Once coersion exists in the system, it will be applied in both directions. Teachers and students have a naturally adversarial relationship already; this will make it much, much worse.
This is, in short, the stupidest idea I've ever encountered in public education. Our city will get exactly what it pays for with this program. It's just a pity the CPS doesn't get what that means.