Cashing in

Exxon Mobil is concerned about U.S. math and science education, so it has decided to pay kids to study. The company is pouring $125 million (a bit more than one day's profits) into the National Math and Science Initiative, which will reward students by paying them cash for each English, science, or math AP test on which they receive a score of 3 or higher. As usual, such pay-for-performance tactics have folks huffing. Robert Schaeffer of FairTest says the program is "basing education reform on a series of bribes to kids and bounties to teachers." Leading us to wonder: does FairTest "bribe" Schaeffer to come to work each day by offering him a salary? The program on which the Texas initiative is based has shown solid results in Dallas, so why not give it a chance to work on a broader scale? If the job of kids is to study and learn, why not attach a salary to that hard work?

"Initiative Will Pay Students to Pass AP Tests," by John Hechinger and Susan Warren, Wall Street Journal, March 9, 2007 (subscription required)

"Education initiative expands state programs nationwide," by Sudeep Reddy, Dallas Morning News, March 10, 2007