"The whole people must take upon themselves the education of the whole people and be willing to bear the expenses of it. There should not be a district of one mile square, without a school in it, not founded by a charitable individual, but maintained at the public expense of the people themselves." -- John Adams

"No money shall be drawn from the treasury, for the benefit of any religious or theological institution." -- Indiana Constitution Article 1, Section 6.

"If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilisation, it expects what never was and never will be...nor can they be safe with them without information. Where the press is free and every man able to read, all is safe." – Thomas Jefferson

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Pay for performance...

There are numerous programs around the country which pay students for their performance on standardized tests. The theory is that students will be motivated to learn and study more if they are paid cash.

A $2 million program aimed at higher scores on advanced placement tests is in place in New York City and the results are in.

There are more 5's (top score) on the test than there were before the program began, however, there are fewer 3's (minimum passing score) and 4's. It seems that some of those students who might have gotten 3's or 4's have pushed themselves high enough to get 5's. However, there is still no significant increase in the number of students passing.

In Wednesday's (8/20/08) New York Times, Sol Stern, a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute said, "I’m just dumbfounded that they can regard this as an achievement or as a great improvement or as something worth spending the money on. I’m surprised that that kind of money, that kind of incentives, doesn’t produce better results. It sort of undercuts the argument that the problem is the question of motivation.”

Mr. Stern had expressed cautious support for the Advanced Placement program when it was announced last fall.

Contrary to the opinion of so-called conservatives like Mr. Stern and the Manhattan Institute, schools are not in trouble because the teachers are not trying hard enough. They're not even in trouble because the students aren't trying hard enough. Schools are failing because our society is failing.

Schools cannot substitute for absent, inept, or abusive parents. Schools are not equipped to be the only source of food and shelter for some students. Schools cannot be the only source of medical care, emotional support, and safety for students.

"...It sort of undercuts the argument that the problem is the question of motivation.” Exactly!

The problem is in our legislatures and in the minds of our representatives and government executives. They are perfectly happy to blame schools for all the problems of the country...in order to get elected.
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