Reading, Writing and Rewarding

The Kansas City School District is the first large district in the country to PAY students to attend summer school. Why do they pay? Because the fuller their summer schools are, the more funding they get from the state.

And now, as the term winds down, the Kansas City School District will hand out gift cards — VISA cash cards — as bonuses for good grades. Bonuses range from $20 up to $150 — that's for a student with good grades and perfect attendance.

Is this the right way to get kids learning?

This story prompted a furious discussion among the “DaySide staff.” One person said, "You shouldn't pay kids for grades — good grades are a reward in themselves." But there are other points of view, like, "Hey, if the prospect of a cash bonus gets a kid to attend summer school and up his or her grades, what's so bad about that?" Someone else asked, "Do you really want to hand a SEVEN-year-old a Visa cash card? Is that a value you want to teach little kids in the second grade?"

Something else to consider: In 2001, before the cash bonus idea, the summer school attendance rate in that district was 79 percent. This year it's 91 percent.

Please e-mail your comments about this story to:

I'm planning to do a segment on it during Thursday's show.



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