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Should Low-Income Students Be Paid to Study?

Students from low-income families are being offered $8 an hour to do their homework. A Georgia based nonprofit group, Learn to Earn, wants to get kids into study sessions by offering them some cash, with the hope that they'll enjoy learning once in the classroom.

Despite positive student feedback, the program— developed by the daughter of former House Speaker Newt Gingrich — bothers some educators. Some argue that it treats low-income students like servants of the better off, and reinforces the idea that they are destined to be wage earners.

I don't think money motivation is necessarily bad, as it can reduce financial pressure felt by some students. It kills two birds with one check — students can earn money as if they had an after-school job, without taking time away from school.

Do you think something like this should be available to all students, regardless of their families' economic situations? Are you happy to see low-income students focusing on school, regardless of the motivation?


Join The Conversation
pinklady8287 pinklady8287 8 years
I am totally against this. I believe that students should be taught to do their homework for the sake of learning. Good grades should be the reward! This is absolutely ridiculous!
Big-Ben Big-Ben 9 years
I can appreciate the intentions behind this, but I feel that it is short-sighted and misguided. I think this ultimately sends the wrong message to the students; young people need to understand that the benefits gained from getting a good education far outweigh financial rewards, and in the end it is only in their best interest to do well. I agree with some of the points already made: perhaps a better use of that money would be to put it back into the school systems. It seems almost insulting to pay some kid $8 an hour to do something he or she is supposed to be doing anyways, while teachers are still grossly underpaid and educational programs like art, music and phys ed are being cut all over the country. Perhaps they could start some other kind of rewards program for students' academic achievements, like maybe giving out gift cards to food or clothing stores or local restaurants to help offset their families' cost of living expenses (not to stereotype, but trusting a teenager to do the right thing and be sensible with a pocket full of cash is akin to trusting a lion not to attack you while wearing a suit made of raw meat.) Perhaps they could use this money to establish more scholarship and financial aid programs so that kids who want to go on to college or private schools can do so without their families falling even deeper into debt. If we want to improve the state of our nation, we need to create an environment where any kid from any type of background can have access to quality education. So while I agree with one poster here who observed that at least doing something is better than continuing to do nothing, I can't help but feel that a program like this will ultimately backfire.
hartsfull hartsfull 9 years
Am I the only one who doesn't mind this idea??? As Liberty said it doesn't come from tax payers so, to me if someone wants to put money to education then, yeay. I don't like the fact that it only bennies low income students. I just think it should be for all kids. We give our daughter rewards for good grades, good dental checkups etc. I don't think there's anything wrong with incentives coming from different directions. Yeah, more things for public schools would be nice. But, that doesn't really BRING a kids attention to better themselves. Maybe it does encourage the idea that "money makes the world go around" but just because something isn't perfect, I dont' think it necessarily means to scrap it. I just think if someone wants to do something good with their own money, more power to them.
tlsgirl tlsgirl 9 years
I really think it should be equal. Put the money into schools to help them improve, or help all children pay for books and other costs of schooling. The whole idea as is is just ridiculous.
ennabeatriz ennabeatriz 9 years
I understand what everyone is saying but I think it makes sense. There has to be a reward system that works to encourage people to want to learn. What would be great would be if the kids were set up with bank accounts as scholarships or trusts.
Jude-C Jude-C 9 years
Laine: For bold, you put a "b" between <> at the beginning of the word/phrase you want bolded, and "/b" between <> at the end. (Without quotation marks.) For italics, it's "i" between <> at the start, and "/i" between <> at the end.
Cassandra57 Cassandra57 9 years
Oh, and all you smart people: What kind of code do you use for bold and italic fonts?
Cassandra57 Cassandra57 9 years
Education has value in itself; it is a gift. Should you be paid to accept a gift? Also, if anything, they should be rewarded for *results* (i.e., grades), not just time. Also, I'm sick to death of being screwed at both ends. We're not poor enough to qualify for all these special programs, or wealthy enough to pay for enrichment programs. My kids are both bright, but we are not able to provide them with all the opportunities I feel they deserve and need to reach their potential. hypnotic: Education (at least in California) may have been underfunded for years, now, but the money they *do* have is not well spent. I look at this stuff *every day*, so I see how it works. :rant:
jennifer76 jennifer76 9 years
I'm a little torn. The idea here kind of offends me. And it definitely isn't sending a great message. At the same time, sitting back and saying that regardless of whatever is happening, parents and educators should be reinforcing the value of education feels a little like saying my kids are lucky to have parents who care about their education and fuck all them other kids.
UnDave35 UnDave35 9 years
I think it sends the wrong message on several levels. And what happens when my kids get to school, and I am dollars above the poverty level. Do they get paid to study?
annebreal annebreal 9 years
Ummmm...who cares if a man is footing the bill? I don't care if it was a man or a woman who developed the program, either, although it was a woman.
LibertySugar LibertySugar 9 years
Hey fuzzles, I was just relaying information about the specific program, i.e. that a man offered the financing. From NPR:
Cushman launched Learn and Earn this year after an Atlanta businessman offered to sponsor it, and Creekside High School in Fairburn, Ga., and neighboring Bear Creek Middle School fit the right profile for it.
Kimpossible Kimpossible 9 years
even as an individually funded private charity I still think it's a bad idea.
Twinkle1 Twinkle1 9 years
If it will keep more kids in school, I'm all for it.
fuzzles fuzzles 9 years
No disrespect Liberty, but for me a "businessWOMAN" would have a bit more credibility. Particularly when most teachers have breasticles.
LibertySugar LibertySugar 9 years
FYI, this is not a tax-payer program. A businessman is backing the non-profit. It's a private charity.
leeluvfashion leeluvfashion 9 years
Hate this idea. We shouldn't have to pay kids to study. Take up an after-school job and a weekend job and you can earn money that way. Learning is a gift and we shouldn't have to pay kids to appreicate it.
Kimpossible Kimpossible 9 years
I agree with the last 4 posters; Bettyesque, piper23, Hannah426, and Michelin. I really can't say much else - I think the idea is ridiculous, a waste of money, completely sends the wrong message to the students.
Michelann Michelann 9 years
The program "reinforces the idea that they are destined to be wage earners." I laughed out loud at that. God forbid anybody be expected to work for a living. I think the idea is silly. If people can't connect current hard work with future success, they're probably not smart enough to be that successful anyway. If it's a privately funded program I've got no real reason to complain.
Hannah426 Hannah426 9 years
Our country is trillions of dollars in debt, and we are deciding to PAY kids to do their homework? That is absolutely ridiculous for two reasons: 1) the whole point of homework is to get students to learn on their own; if i was getting paid to do my homework, i would either just write down crap to make it look like I was doing it or I would get someone else to do it for me. therefore, are you really helping the students? 2) you cannot give money to only low-income students; if the school system is going to give money to fifty students, then they need to give it to all the students. some kids cannot help it if their family is not considered "low-income," just as some kids cannot help it if their family is considered "low-income." just another prime example of how stupid and unfair school systems an be.
piper23 piper23 9 years
I really hate to sound as irritated with this as I am but why on earth should we pay kids to get an education? The non-profit group should take the kids who are squandering their education to the local factory, steel mill, chicken plant, whatever their pleasure and let them work for a month doing hard labor. All the while telling them that if they don't get off their butts and get an education then they may as well stay there because more than likely that's where they will make their living.
Bettyesque Bettyesque 9 years
Absolutely not. Putting funds towards future loans, grants scholarships etc would be more logical. If we reward students before they have actually done anything we run the risk of wasted cash. Again this is something that takes away some of the burden of educators and families. Another easy out. "Hard Work" should be instilled by the families; and the educators should make the curricula more stimulating .. this is what will motivate children.
annebreal annebreal 9 years
From the article - "Cushman launched Learn and Earn this year after an Atlanta businessman offered to sponsor it, and Creekside High School in Fairburn, Ga., and neighboring Bear Creek Middle School fit the right profile for it. More than 60 percent of the students are considered low-income; more than 90 percent are minorities; and the schools trail district-wide achievement rates by eye-popping margins." To me, I can understand thinking that this sends a bad message, is unfair to other students, yadda yadda. But a school where the majority of the students are in poverty and their test scores are in the toilet, it's time to try whatever works. And it seems to me that this a private entity, not tax dollars, is footing the bill. Honestly, I work with this population and the situation is grim, and money does really talk. What I hope is that the eight dollars is in a gift card and not strictly cash incentive - a lot of incentive-giving programs don't do cash directly, that's a misnomer, at least the ones around here more often give grocery store or Walmart cards - so the money is spent a little more wisely, on food or bus passes and Medicaid cab fares. I say if it's funded through a private grant, let's see what the results are in a couple of years. It might be a flop or it could turn things around. In my mind, it's not worth bashing the idea because at least I want kids to succeed at almost any cost, and I don't really see the point in overthinking in this kind of situation; it sounds like this is a school in dire straits.
mguy414 mguy414 9 years
I don't think this is fair!!! Why not just take this money that you're going to be spending on paying these kids to learn and put it into a scholarship fund that EVERYONE can have access to? You can't make someone enjoy learning, even by paying them. Even though I pay for all my eduction, because I live with my parents and they make enough money to supposedly support my tuition, I can't get grants or anything because of that. If you're going to go through with this idea, then let everyone have a shot at it, not just low income students. Because it is HARD to hold down a full-time job and go to school full-time, its hard to hold down a part-time job and go to school full-time!!
fuzzles fuzzles 9 years
I disagree with the message it sends as well. The message, regardless of income, should be for kids to work hard to get good grades. This, inturn, leads to better job opportunities and scholarships should they opt to continue on with their education. Plain and simple. But I do agree that we need to invest much more than we do in public schools. Just not in this particular manner.
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