Should cash be used to spur children to do better on reading and math tests?
Suzanne Windland, a homeowner raising three children in a placid enclave of eastern Queens, doesn’t think so. Her seventh grader, Alexandra, she said, had perfect scores last year. But she doesn’t want New York City’s Department of Education to hand her $500 in spending cash for that achievement. That’s what Alexandra would earn if her school was part of a pilot program that will reward fourth and seventh graders with $100 to $500, depending on how well they perform on 10 tests in the next year.
Mrs. Windland wants Alexandra to do well for all the timeless reasons — to cultivate a love of learning, advance to more competitive schools and the like. She has on occasion bought her children toys or taken them out for dinner when they brought home pleasurable report cards, but she does not believe in dangling rewards beforehand.
“It’s like giving kids an allowance because they wake up every morning and brush their teeth and go off to school,” she said. “That’s their job. That’s what they’re supposed to be doing.”