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Third grade students Tyler Smalls (L) and Sekou Cisse raise their hands in reading comprehension class at Harlem Success Academy, a free, public elementary charter school March 30, 2009 in the Harlem neighborhood of New York City.
In recent years, schools have been testing the power of money to motivate student performance. They’ve been handing out cash to get students to show up, get better grades and read more. And according to economist Roland Fryer, in some cases, it works. The idea makes adults extremely uncomfortable. Teachers say kids should learn for the love of learning and psychologists warn financial-incentives can backfire altogether. On the other hand, kids love the idea - who wouldn’t prefer 50 bucks to a gold star? But is it right to bribe children? And can cash really make a difference in the classroom? If so, are more schools going to do it?
Amanda Ripley, longtime contributor to TIME magazine, and author of TIME’s April 9 cover story, “Should Kids Be Bribed to Do Well in School?”