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I wasn’t bribed… August 6, 2009

Posted by roxieroo8125 in Uncategorized.
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I would like to preface this entire entry with the fact that I am not a educational professional of any kind, with my degrees both being in American Studies.  This makes me qualified, in my mind anyhow, to comment on anything that happens in America.

I read a New York Times article today, and I had some comments, and by putting them out on “the blog-o-sphere,” I’m also hoping to get some constructive feedback.

I am incredibly interested in the educational system in America, both in its successes and its flaws.  To keep abreast of the newest innovations, I find the Education section of NYTimes.com to be very helpful.  To those who don’t know, one can find this section under the “U.S.” section, then find the tab that says “Education.”  I don’t mean to sound patronizing, but at least this way you know what you are looking for.  Generally the conversation leans toward the educational scene in New York City, which is fascinating on its own.  However, it also covers a number of national topics.  Regardless, I’m intrigued on a daily basis.

So, I read this article today.  I’ll give you a minute to read it.  Fear not; it’s short.  I’ll go make a sandwich.

To start, I LOVE the overall goal of the program.  I think AP Exams are a way better gauge of a person’s knowledge in a certain subject and college preparedness then say, the SAT’s.  SAT’s prove that you can read and do math (and only recently) write a decent essay.  However, the AP Exams prove that you can think analytically and you actually know facts.  Furthermore, it encourages students to begin specializing early in the subjects that they either naturally excel in, or that they find themselves interested in.  By taking AP classes and the exams, one finds themselves ahead of the game once they register for college courses.  For instance, I went to college with 9 credits: 3 in English writing; 3 in English literature; and 3 in U.S. history.  Even if I had only taken the U.S. history exam, I would have been able to skip the introductory U.S. History courses and was able to get through more upper-level classes, as well as pursue electives that would not have been available to me otherwise.  I paid $78 – 82 for each exam, and when compared with the cost of colleges and universities right now, that is quite a bargain.

My primary hope for these students is that they and their parents have the foresight to put the money aside for college or technical school, although I think it is safe to state that the majority of AP test-takers are off to a college or a university.  These dire economic times have proved that Americans are not the best money managers, and with unemployment being what it is, the money the students earn might be more urgently needed somewhere else in the household right now.  One cannot tell others what to do with their money, but with college costs being what they are, I hope it is being put somewhere to earn interest (and low-risk).

However, my main issue with these programs that pay students to pass these tests is that it might be teaching another, less desirable lesson.  Students are rewarded for both good scores and the extra effort they put in (judged through their attendance at weekend sessions), but shouldn’t people be encouraged to do well and do the best thing without receiving monetary “bribes”?  One should want to work hard and do well in all that they do, not because there is $1000 on the line, but because it is the right thing to do.  I have these same argument for parents who pay their kids for good grades.  Rewards are good, but are monetary rewards the most ideal?  As kids, my friends and I were usually rewarded for good grades with constant encouragement, and at the end of the year, perhaps dinner at Friendly’s.

It’s like Spike Lee said: “Do the right thing.”

Onward.

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