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Eat Your Carrots and You Get a Dollar

Oh, how the times have changed! When I was in high school (which was not all that long ago), it was just expected that kids who were smart (and many who weren't) would take Advanced Placement (AP) classes and then go on to take the corresponding test at the end of the course in hopes of receiving a 3 or above to achieve college credit. But it seems that kids these days just aren't all that motivated anymore to do this — even if it means saving thousands of dollars and countless (usually very dull) hours on a college class that they could test out of in a couple of hours.

What could possibly be the remedy to this mass apathy by America's youth?! Well, it would be the National Math and Science Initiative or in simpler terms — paying kids to take tests and get good grades. According to an article today in the Wall Street Journal, Exxon Mobil contributed a whopping $125 million to launch the program that will create incentives for kids to take AP test in an effort to increase the interest in math and science courses.

The nonprofit initiative hopes to have the program up and running in 150 school districts in 20 states within five years, and seeks to add an additional 50,000 students to the 400,000 in math and science, and 300,000 in English already passing the AP tests.

While it would have been great to be paid to take those tests that I loathed so much during high school (what kid wouldn't want the cash?), this doesn't seem to me to be the solution to America falling behind in these subjects. Personally, I love science. Math, not so much. But creating programs that would challenge kids and create interest in these subjects seems like a much better idea to me than just paying them off. I just don't think our current business leaders should be teaching tomorrow's leaders that they could buy their way out of any problem. Companies like Exxon could be putting that money toward paying teachers more or getting better books or improving the science lab in schools around the country. Schools could use SecondLife as a way of bringing students closer to scientists that are actually in the field or engage kids in math by letting them manipulate the real-time numbers on Google Finance.

What programs would you create (that don't involve bribery) as a means of getting kids more involved in science and math?