Tuesday, July 10, 2007

And All This Time We Should Have Just Been Paying Students

New York City is planning on a pilot program to pay students for doing well. Actually, not only will they get paid for doing well on standardized tests, they'll get paid just for taking the tests and for going to class. 4th graders will get up to $25 per test, 7th graders will get up to $50 per test. That's up to $500 per year for the 7th graders. What a novel, new approach to pedagogy.

That is the problem with education in America after all. Students aren't getting paid. Basically what we have established is forced slave labor of our children. (We'll ignore the fact that their work isn't actually used for anything.) Its unconstitutional and immoral. We thought we ended slavery back in the 1800s, but its still going on folks. We've had the civil rights movement, women rights movement, is the student rights movement coming now? Children are just little adults after all. They do have to make ends meet too. (They are after all getting cell phones younger and younger.)

We've been wasting so much money paying teachers to be task masters over their enslaved students. When in actuality, students have not been doing well because they're not being rewarded financially. If you didn't get paid at your job would you try very hard? So we could save so much money and improve education so much in this country if we just paid students directly. We just need to take a handful of the best teachers in America for every grade and subject, have them put their lectures on video podcast for a school year, with nice slides and video clips and other multimedia content, and then fire all the teachers in America. (We'll have to be sure to record the lectures and lesson plans before we tell the top teachers what we're planning.) Put all this along with the students' textbooks and assignments on a laptop, hand it to them at the beginning of the school year, tell them to go through it all by the end of the school year when they will show up for standardized tests in person. Remind them that they'll get paid for doing well, and of course they'll be disciplined and self-motivated enough to learn all they need to learn so they can get paid. What could possibly not work with this? There's been a lot more flex time at people's work these past years, as long as you get your work done, work whenever. Why not let the students have flex time since school is just work.
Of course, the students might have questions. So we'll hook each on up with tutors in India to answer any questions. (Using their laptops with built in web cams) And they'll have to turn in assignments via e-mail, the grading of which will be outsourced as well, as the teachers will be too pissed to work part time. Some really good software will give teachers a run for their money, which of course will be going to the students (and back to taxpayers) and more than make up for the difference.

Think of all the money being saved. We exchange the salaries of teachers, principals, janitors, lunch ladies, bus drivers, superintendents, and the costs of building and maintaining schools, lunch, power, water, gas, diesel for school buses, for $500 cash plus the cost of new laptops every couple of years. (The cost of the laptop we could offset with advertisments in the podcasts, as the children will need ideas on how to spend their money.) And most importantly, our students will learn better when motivated by greed. What an antiquated idea, learning for the joy of learning, learning being fun and exciting, satisfying curiosity, exploring, and discovering. Learning just for the sake of learning must date back to at least Socrates, so its clearly an outdated idea in our HD, surround sound, WiFi world in which we live. Instant gratification as an impetus, that's more like it.

You have to love some of the objections raised. Ernst Logan, the president of the principals' union says that “We are troubled by additional pressure being placed on children to achieve perfection. What really matters in education is continued student progress, not perfect test scores.” I don't remember anyone saying anything about having to get perfect test scores to get paid. Actually, I seem to remember something about getting paid just to show up. Which, as Woody Allen said, "Seventy percent of success in life is showing up." We seem to be doing a pretty good job of teaching children that. I thought education was about learning. If you're learning what you're suppose to then yes, you are progressing, but just because you're progressing doesn't mean you're learning sufficiently all that you need to learn. But now I, once blind, can see clearly that education is only valuable for the sake of making money. When I grew up though that money was far off, how I envy tomorrow's youth who will get a taste of that satisfaction while they're learning.

America is built on capitalism. Why shouldn't we introduce children to this at an early age? What could be wrong with sending the message that it doesn't matter if you enjoy what you're doing, as long as you're getting paid for it. Never mind that when you enter the real world you have to pay for college or some other form of training so you can get a decent job. And paying them to just show up to class, that's even better. Not only are they getting paid to take the tests, they get paid to go to class which I assume they need to do in order to pass these tests. If they don't need to go to class in order to pass them, why fool with class at all? How about we try dragging their asses to jail if they don't show up to school? "This is where you're going to end up in a few years if you don't try in school." Some have said this could work if the money is put into a scholarship fund. That seems to defeat the whole point of motivating them with immediate payoffs versus being able to get a well paying job when they graduate. If we're going to pay them to motivate them, we need to give them cold, hard cash. Forget all the pizza parties, scholarships, and other gimmicks that we try using. Money is the American way. And we have to cut out this self-esteem crap and this just showing up BS. If we're going to bring our children into capitalism, then lets do it. Last I checked, corporate America doesn't pay just for showing up, at least not for long. There's not smiley face sticker on your pay check saying, "Good Effort." Corporate America is a cold, competitive, and cut-throat place. So too then should our schools be. Let's increase the competition to get more out of our kids at a young age by posting all their scores and giving a bonus to the top students. Nothing like a little gloating and flashy new iPhone to shame the poor (now quite literally), failing students into studying.


Anonymous Jason said...

My only comment on this is: Reparations! I will expect a modest $10,000 for my 13 years of pre-education (education being college/ university). And I don't want it in rice krispy treats like Peter Griffin attempted once on Family Guy (when he found out he was the ancestor to an African descendant slave). And actually, I had perfect attendance a number of years, so since I had few calling in sick days, I will graciously accept as a bonus a brand new BMW of my choosing. And don't get mad when my choice is an imported diesel, and I stick you (the system) with the bill for any maintenance and repairs.

Cheers Greg!

Mon Nov 26, 01:46:00 AM EST  

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