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What happens when parents get paid to do homework?

LA School Report | August 27, 2015

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By Megan McArdle

Poor kids don’t do nearly as well in school as the children of the affluent. There’s a vicious cycle when you talk about this, where education reformers blame the teachers, teachers blame the parents and the economic conditions of the children, and everyone sort of gives each other the side eye while glumly agreeing that something really needs to be done.

Adoption studies seem to indicate that parenting does matter. Unfortunately, it’s not clear what that actually tells policy makers. Reforming schools is harder than it sounds, but persuading principals and teachers to change what they do looks like a trivial exercise compared with getting millions of people to radically alter the hours they spend each day with their children in the privacy of their own homes.

For one thing, we’re paying the teachers and can threaten to cut off the checks if they don’t change. A team of economists decided to see what effect it could have by paying the parents.

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