Amanda Ripley

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Thinking Rationally about Schools in Colorado

3rd May 2010 posted in Education

I suppose it’s premature to get excited about this, but I was happy to see this small victory for evidence-based research come out of Colorado:

In a “ripped from the headlines” manner, two lawmakers, one a Democrat and the other a Republican, unveiled a measure Friday that would pay children to read, replicating a program profiled recently in Time magazine that has met with controversy but also success.
Dubbed “Earn to Learn,” the measure would give low-income kids a financial incentive to improve their reading skills by reading more outside the classroom….Sponsored by Democrat Sen. Chris Romer, of Denver, and Senate Minority leader Josh Penry, of Grand Junction, Senate Bill 210 is patterned after research that uses economic principles to incentivize kids to learn.

OK, so I have a vested interest in this, it’s true. That was my story, and I want it to lead to something. But I am just as excited to see politicians thinking in such a rational way about education spending, period. Despite the fact that we spend more per pupil on education than the vast majority of rich countries (most of which also get far better returns on their investment), we almost never direct this money towards policies that have been rigorously tested. We direct the money towards practices that feel good or are politically safe. I will be curious to hear what comes of this.