Bribery or Needed Motivation?
November 11, 2010 8:57 PM   Subscribe

Baltimore area schools are using this Johns Hopkins program In an effort to combat rampant absenteeism and improve graduation rates, several Baltimore area middle schools are adopting the Stocks in the Future program developed by Johns Hopkins University program. Students are paid up to $80 a year based on their attendance and grades, which they are then allowed to invest in the stock market. Upon graduation, students keep their own portfolios (surprisingly, not all of them do). The program allows students to develop some financial literacy and has improved attendance rates.
posted by foxinsocks (16 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
I think Bunny tried using this program in Season 4 of The Wire.
posted by bengalsfan1 at 9:16 PM on November 11, 2010

If there's one thing The Wire taught me, poor kids in urban Baltimore know way too much about capitalism already.
posted by geoff. at 9:18 PM on November 11, 2010 [4 favorites]

"Up to" $80 a year? Is that really big enough of an incentive? Does this program actually work?

It sounds, at least on paper, a bit too much like the bit in Brass Eye where Paul McCartney gives the struggling town a hundred top hats.
posted by Sticherbeast at 9:38 PM on November 11, 2010 [1 favorite]

All right, I tend to favor Karl over Adam, but this is capitalist country (me: USAist), and this is chump change we're talking about, used wisely to help students understand several important concepts, and, to give them another reason to come to school. A pretty sound idea.
posted by kozad at 9:41 PM on November 11, 2010 [1 favorite]

Remember what happened when Prezbo taught them probability?
posted by vidur at 9:42 PM on November 11, 2010 [3 favorites]

It's a little bit like coming to school to gamble on the stock market.
posted by esprit de l'escalier at 9:53 PM on November 11, 2010

It's good to see that the Baltimore County school board have determined that expulsion is not the answer when a truancy problem is way out of hand.
posted by Rarebit Fiend at 10:03 PM on November 11, 2010 [3 favorites]

The kids get, at max, $80/year, over the course of three years. Presumably less if they miss some days of school or don't get straight As. Maybe the average kid gets $50/year. If his stocks don't do anything special, then at the end of three years, he's got a $150 portfolio, but he can't access it for four *more* years, until he graduates from high school.

The fact that many kids lose an asset worth probably between $100 and $300 after four years of have no access to it and probably no mention of it doesn't surprise me. I probably had that much in savings bonds that my grandparents sent me as a child that I'd lost or forgotten about by age 18.
posted by tylerkaraszewski at 10:10 PM on November 11, 2010

Psh, $80 per class, per semester, then let's talk.
posted by BuddhaInABucket at 10:13 PM on November 11, 2010

We should be able to figure out how much better off society is monetarily by having a student graduate versus having them drop out, eh? I bet it's a fairly significant sum. So grant the student some decent fraction of that sum upon graduation, with small incentive payments along the way to keep them interested.

When the student graduates, they get the lump sum, no strings attached; accredited colleges and trade schools will by law charge no more for tuition and board than 1/4 the amount per year. Thus the student has a choice of taking the money or accepting a free college or trade education.

Do NOT tie the monetary incentive to grades; tie it to graduating. Not everyone is going to be an "A" student, but many can do quite well in life despite that if they have a basic skill set and then further training in a trade. Graduation, then, should require that the student demonstrate they've mastered basic reading, writing and practical math skills. (I prefer that they passed a few simple life-skills tests, too, as well as having a practical knowledge of civics and their civil rights.)

This predicates a school system that has the resources to help those most in need, a pretty unlikely thing when we have $15 billion aircraft carriers to stock up on and tax refunds to grant the wealthy so they can trickle them down on us (not even washing their hands afterward, I bet).
posted by maxwelton at 10:40 PM on November 11, 2010 [2 favorites]

In 6th grade advanced math class, our teacher did something like this. We all got fake dollars for grades, I think, and got to invest it in the stock market, and at the end of the year, we got to bid in an auction on various items. I got to bid up on a BMX poster that my friend wanted, but he had more money, so i folded. Turned out there was another poster just like it later, so I ended up getting it cheaper! LOL.

That said, I sucked at math, so didn't have nearly the same amount of money as the other kids, even accounting for potential stock earnings.

This was also 1987/1988, so... I think we did it AFTER the crash, and it was his way to get us into it, saying "here's a relevant thing, let's incorporate it into our curriculum".
posted by symbioid at 10:41 PM on November 11, 2010

Again we find that capitalism is the solution to all of life's problems, especially those attending public services.
posted by 7segment at 12:17 AM on November 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


So the kids get $80 for perfect attendance...for a whole school year.

Then thy HAVE to invest it in the stock market.

So they end up losing all the money, and wonder why they worked so hard to earn he money.

Holy shit. The baltimore school system takes kids at 5 years of age, and teaches them everything i have learned about working in the real world by 2nd grade.

posted by hal_c_on at 2:17 AM on November 12, 2010 [3 favorites]

This is disappointing. I assumed it meant that they would stick the worst absentee students in some medieval stocks in the middle of campus and hand out rotten vegetables. But nooo, they want to teach them fiscal responsibility instead.
posted by elizardbits at 3:43 AM on November 12, 2010

In which grade do they begin teaching the Rules of Acquisition?
posted by Thorzdad at 4:37 AM on November 12, 2010

so basically the school is teaching them to gamble other people's money so they can say they "have money" but only on paper and only insofar as their investments are actually successful.

goes to show how capitalism has become a religion in this country because the school people arent learning the lesson the kids are teaching them: that the portfolio is a fraud and not money the kids can actually use to improve their lives.
posted by liza at 6:39 AM on November 12, 2010 [1 favorite]

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