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So I was listening to an interview last night on NPR with a prominent education thinker who died recently and he said something that I thought was great. He said, "children work for the same reason adults work" to get some kind of reward. In his own life he had worked very hard as a child because he wanted to go to college and at that point only about 6% of Americans were getting in.
He was bemoaning the fact that getting into college no longer motivates children because no matter how bad a student you are you can almost always find some college that will take you.
So the thought occurred to me this morning - why not pay kids to go to school? Every week they could get a paycheck for between zero and $50 depending on how well they perform as students in terms of attending class, behaving well, doing homework etc.
So I checked to see how much that would cost. Let's say you start paying kids seventh grade. In my state of New Hampshire we have 36 weeks of school and around 100,000 kids in 7-12. So if the system is set up so the average kid makes $30 per week the total cost per year of the program would be $108 million dollars - which is roughly 6% of what New Hampshire spends on education ever year. It seems affordable enough.
Basically I think this would motivate kids and maybe even change the dynamic that sometimes occurs where kids who get good grades are picked on. Parents would most likely insist that some portion of the money go into savings for college, so it would help with the ridiculous cost of that.