A recent story by NPR’s David Kestenbaum, about a Far Rockaway principal who gave out raffle tickets each morning to anyone who came to school on time, generated a lot of feedback.
Some listeners thought what M.S. 53 principal Shawn Rux had done was “brilliant.” But another wrote, “An effort that results in a negative, such as displacing these kids’ motivation from learning to expecting a bribe, isn’t worth making.”
The students can win toys and school supplies with the raffle tickets. And the principal created his own currency, called Rux Bux.
Teachers hand them out when kids are well behaved. They can be traded in for school supplies, or special lunches. A sixth-grader named Wander Rodriguez is trying to save up 5,000 Rux Bux — enough for a personal shopping spree with Rux.
Rux also stood by the door each morning greeting students.
The story is sure to gain currency with those who support incentives. But it’s worth noting that they don’t always work. Harvard economist Roland Fryer found a $75 million pay incentive for New York City teachers and another incentive program paying kids for mastering skills didn’t add up.
What do you think? Do students respond to incentives like the one Principal Shawn Rux designed to boost attendance? Or do they just need a friendly face greeting them at the door?