SOUND-OFF presents a current controversy in the news, and invites you to speak your mind.
DC is one of three cities that participates in Harvard University’s experimental system called Capital Gains– the others are New York and Chicago. The controversial program allows about 3,000 DC middle school students collect up to $200 per month for good behavior, attendance, completing homework, and achieving good grades. Harvard and the DC taxpayers split the bill- $1.35 million each.
The goal of the program is to reverse the current trend in DC education- 8% of students pass math and only 12% are proficient in English. We’ll see what the results are. The first round of checks, totaling $137,813 and averaging about $43 per student, went out this week.
- Is it right to bribe kids to do the right thing? DC Schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee views it as “positive incentive.” She adds that there are “incentives to do all the wrong things out on the street, and we believe that having positive incentives for doing the right thing is a good counter balance to that.” Is that a valid point?
- Is it right to isolate cities like DC for programs like this? Roland Fryer of Harvard compares the incentive based program to the idea of rich families giving their children “shiny red cars at graduation.” DC is an impoverished city in many areas, but it is one of hundreds if not thousands of towns and cities that are suffering academically. Is it okay for DC to use federal funding paid by these other towns and cities on a program like this?
- Should the spending of the money be monitored? It is wonderful that accounts are being created at SunTrust Bank for the students in the program, and it is even better that the bank is providing free money-management training, but at the end of the day, these middle school students have cash to spend. Isn’t there a risk of some students using the money to “do all the wrong things out on the street?” Would a VISA system with statement oversight work better?
YOUR TURN. WEIGH IN ON THE ISSUE. MAKE YOUR VOICE HEARD.