"Up to 5,000 freshmen at 20 Chicago public high schools will get cash for good--and even average--grades as part of a new, Harvard-designed test program that city education leaders are rolling out Thursday," the Tribune reports.
Students will be measured every five weeks in math, English, social sciences, science and physical education. An A nets $50, a B equals $35 and a C still brings in $20. Students will get half the money upfront, with the remainder paid upon graduation. A straight-A student could earn up to $4,000 by the end of his or her sophomore year.
The program, which will be privately funded, is modeled after existing ones in New York and Washington. Chicago Schools CEO Arne Duncan insisted that it is not a form of official bribery so much as a program of institutionalized incentives.
"It's incenting, recognizing and rewarding hard work and a commitment to education,'' Duncan said in the Sun-Times. "The majority of our students don't come from families with a lot of economic wealth. I'm always trying to level the playing field," he said in the Tribune. "This is the kind of incentive that middle-class families have had for decades."
Barry Schwartz, an education expert and Swarthmore College psychology professor, ripped the idea in the Tribune:
It's a terrible idea, because you're getting people to do things for the wrong reasons ... They'll do well in school, maybe, but they won't take any of it out with them. Instead of trying to cultivate an interest in learning, curiosity . . . you are just turning this into another job.
The good grades for cash program is CPS' second "Green for Grade$" program. The first one, begun last year, offered 350 students money for college if they met certain attendance benchmarks.
The Sun-Times lists the patricipating schools: UPLIFT, Best Practice, Bowen Environmental Studies, Bowen Global Visions, Chicago Discovery Academy, Chicago Military, School of Entrepreneurship, Douglass , School of Leadership, Hirsch, Hope, Hubbard, Kennedy, Kelvyn Park, Manley, Phoenix Military, Richards, Senn and Simeon.