Educational Editorial: Paying students to succeed

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - Apparently I have been watching too much coverage of the arrests of Russian spies. My impulse is to say that there has been an uptick in the chatter about paying students to succeed.

This week the Richmond Times-Dispatch carried an OpEd piece by Paul Goldman who wrote, "the time has come to use sizable direct financial rewards to motivate high school seniors to improve their academic performance and physical fitness."

The inspiration for this piece was "Mission: Readiness," an organization led by former military leaders, that suggests that 75 percent of young adults 17-24 could not pass the academic and fitness requirements to entire the military.

While I fully agree with the assumption that young people need both sound minds and bodies, I am concerned about the jump from a lack of readiness to paying young people to succeed.

A fundamental question persists, "Is money the right incentive?"

Industrial studies have taught us that you never have enough money…perhaps young people who begin to study and exercise for money will learn to negotiate as well…or seek protection under the Fair Labor Standards Act.

And, do we pay people to get ready for a volunteer army?

"Mission: Readiness" actually says that young people are not prepared to serve due to three reasons:  a failure to finish high school, criminal records, and poor physical and mental fitness.

Truly schools, especially in urban areas, need to improve graduation rates…but I cannot imagine that schools are responsible for curbing criminal records or mental illness. What about another institution…the family!

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