I stayed up until 3am watching CNN’s special entitled, Black in America. My mother called to tell me about the special…she said it would be featured in two-parts and that I should check it out. Well, I did…and I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it since! The education portion of the Wednesday night’s special really hit home…hell, it even reminded me WHY I flocked towards that inner-city school the way in which I did. The statistics were mind boggling…the special report mentioned that Black children are, academically, the lowest achieving group in the world…in the WORLD…WOW! The report also noted that Black females make-up the majority of the African-American populace of post-secondary enrollment…Black males are more likely to drop out of school, become involved in a life of drugs, gangs, and crime…and end up in prison. WOW! Then the special featured how the plight of the black male (you know…not being educated or gainfully employed) affects the family structure and trims down the dating pool for Black females (if she’s only dating within her race)…and the stats for that…only 45% of Black females will ever get married. WOW! (I know that had nothing to do with education…more on a personal note)
Dr. Roland Fryer is a big-wig professor of economy over at THE Harvard University, and he is also the associate director of something called the American Inequality Lab (and yes, I so totally have a nerd crush on him). Fryer was featured on last night’s special due to his idea of “paying students to learn.” He feels that it will work. Fryer revealed that he grew up in an inner-city environment and claims that today’s students are not like the students of the past. He says that phrases such as, “Do your work so that you can make good grades and go to college,” mean anything anymore…he also says that today’s student (especially the inner-city student) needs a tangible incentive to get through school because they (lower-class, inner-city students) do not have the same role models that middle-class students have at home (which I guess would be their version of the tangible incentive).
The next thing I see is a group of Fourth Graders who are being rewarded/paid for making A’s on test. They receive a sheet of paper that tells them their balance…and the kids are excited. When the students are questioned about how they feel making money for studying affects them, one young man responded by saying that he felt it made his expectations for himself that much higher (I’m paraphrasing here). Reaching Out to Students When They Talk and Text discuss the idea more in depth, and while I understand the idea behind the action…I’m not so sure that what students will learn in the long-run will truly pay-off. I understand that students need to be motivated to learn, but is paying them THE answer? …Or giving them a cell phone? And I found the following quote from the article to be extremely interesting:
Mr. Klein and Dr. Fryer said they hoped that celebrities like the rapper Jay-Z, the comedian Chris Rock and the basketball star LeBron James of the Cleveland Cavaliers would participate by sending text messages or calling students who succeed. Grades, attendance and completion of assignments will all be considered signs of success.
I find that quote interesting because a simple “Good job!” from your parent is no longer enough…a male from the ENTERTAINMENT INDUSTRY is now being expected to tow the line as the last hope for academic encouragement. I’m just wondering what will happen to these kids when they get out into the real world and realize that there are no rewards in college for acing an exam…there are no rewards at home for taking care of your children…there are no rewards or incentives for paying your bills on time (I don’t get discounts for that)…so, I will be extremely curious to see the end result of Dr. Fryer’s two year experiment. Also, I wonder how well this would work with drug-dealing high school students who would scoff at $25 per test…and I also wonder WHERE is this money coming from? Hey…and maybe I have no room to comment on anything like this since I had a middle-class upbringing with college educated family members, but my INCENTIVE to learn was a spanking…I didn’t want one…so I did the work, and then as I became older the spankings stopped and I understood the value of completing something via the fruits of my labor. HA! Go figure! Ideas like that are foreign and antiquated now! Now my students talk of abuse or neglect…never the middle ground where nurturing occurs…Has this also killed education?