Should Kids Be Bribed to Do Well in School?

What motivates kids to work hard in school? The exclusive story of a national experiment in paying for performance that delighted children, offended adults and provoked death threats against the scientist

Samantha Contis for TIME

From left: Rodney Thomas, Tyreke Johnson and Malik Harris, at Burroughs Education Center in Washington, look at their payment vouchers

In junior high school, one of my classmates had a TV addiction — back before it was normal. This boy — we'll call him Ethan — was an encyclopedia of vacuous content, from The A-Team to Who's the Boss?

Then one day Ethan's mother made him a bold offer. If he could go a full month without watching any TV, she would give him $200. None of us thought he could do it. But Ethan quit TV, just like that. His friends offered to let him cheat at their houses on Friday nights ( Miami Vice nights!). Ethan said...

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