03/18/2010 05:12 am ET Updated Nov 17, 2011

Dollars for Grades: A Feasible Solution to Our Broken Public School System?

Last year I read an article about inner-city schools paying students to get good grades. My first thoughts were of relief: finally a creative solution to level the playing field amongst our public schools. But I wasn't completely sold. I began to think about how this solution would deteriorate any genuine appeal to learning. If we train kids to expect rewards, what happens when the rewards are revoked? Or, do monetary incentives simply level the playing field between the underserved and the privileged?

After chewing on this debate for a while, I now see how essential these programs can be in closing the gap of our regrettably inequitable public school system. If we can move entire bodies of students in learning and give kids a chance to graduate high school, how can we not? A high school diploma achieved through monetary incentives is better than no diploma at all. Especially when their counterparts at middle-upper class schools down the street are being incentivized too, just by different benefactors -- their parents.

I look forward to seeing the results of these initial studies and what other clever solutions derive from the conversation. Old, failed solutions need to end. If we don't embrace creative and progressive thought in improving our school systems, we're going to fail all of our children.