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DOE's failed cell phone incentive plan inspires from beyond the grave

Increasing students’ “motivation to learn” by offering incentives for school performance is essential to their success, argues Kent Pekel, executive director of the University of Minnesota’s College Readiness Consortium, which supports statewide education initiatives. In a column, he writes:

Across the nation, a number of interesting efforts are under way [to take] a more intentional and systemic approach to motivation. One example is the Million Motivation Campaign in New York City, through which middle-school students are being given a free cell phone and the chance to earn minutes, music downloads and other rewards if they meet performance goals set by their schools.

It looks like Pekel didn’t get the news that the advertising-award-winning “Million” Motivation Campaign was killed over the summer because, the DOE says, too few private donors pitched in for it to continue. Pekel’s oversight — not surprising, as Million’s demise wasn’t broadcast widely — suggests that on incentives, the subway has clearly left the station, and the results of New York’s experiments aren’t likely to change this particular thrust of contemporary school reform.

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