The inestimable Rum Smuggler contacted me via private channels to point out Paying for Performance from the Marginal Revolution.

Every three weeks students are tested and if they improve they are paid on the order of $20.  Control groups are also tested.  Early results are very encouraging.  No other reform has anywhere near the bang for the buck as paying the students.

But that's ... that's so **easy**! Instead of paying the monopolist government school bureaucrats more, pay the kids.

Whiny nosy Mrs Grundy sniffs, "Outrageous; they should they learn for the joy of learning." In a perfect world, that's true -- but they must be taught the long-term joy with short-term rewards. If we must coax the thirsty to water with gold, then we will quench their thirst just as surely as if we had browbeaten them toward it with "it's for your own good, you'll thank me later" ... and maybe with more success.